Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
A relaxed and affable Anderson Cooper effortlessly worked the room this afternoon on the first day of the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour confab at the Beverly Hilton, promoting his forthcoming Telepictures-produced syndie strip Anderson. He addressed the often raised concerns over how production on the talk show would be impacted by his CNN job where, if a big news story breaks anywhere in the world he packs up and goes to cover it sometimes for weeks at a time. Cooper is not concerned that he would leave the producers of Anderson in the lurch. “I covered, over the past year, Egypt, the tsunami in Japan and the tornado in Joplin,” he said. “If I were away someplace, we could have shows (in the can) that we would run or we could actually do live shows from an event I was at. I’m not worried about it. It’s all very doable because I manage my time really well.” He stressed that his new gig won’t keep him not only from his nightly CNN 360 news duties but also from continuing to do six pieces a year for CBS’ 60 Minutes.
Cooper acknowledges he’ll be far more Oprah and less CNN anchor dude on Anderson, which launches on Sept. 12 with clearances in more than 90% of the country. “We won’t be doing politicians and pundits on this one,” Cooper said, “because we’re reaching a different audience.” In exchanging his journalist hat for a Phil Donahue-like chat format complete with audience, he’ll be sharing camera time with “real people talking about real situations” as well as with celebrities like Lady Gaga and Eminem.” He’ll be fronting a talk show whose station clearances are about evenly split between mornings and afternoons, concentrating on social issues at least as much as newsmakers. Cooper hopes to reveal a side of himself viewers have never seen, starting today by sharing tidbits from his oddball childhood as the son of Gloria Vanderbilt. “I once was scheduled to appear in a munchkin outfit on The Mike Douglas Show,” he said. “I also once appeared on To Tell the Truth when I was nine as an imposter pretending to be the world’s youngest bear trainer.”
Despite the fact he’ll be on national TV twice daily five days a week, Cooper did not appear concerned about overexposure. “People just don’t watch TV every day,” he believes. “Except me of course.” And while Cooper clearly wouldn’t mind stepping into the gaping hole left by Oprah’s departure from the daytime air, he won’t be starting any book clubs anytime soon. “We’ll be trying to create our own path,” he said.