Anderson Cooper 2.0
The CNN mainstay spent his summer vacation publicly coming out and privately overhauling his eponymous talk show for its second season.
After one season, Anderson is no more. Beginning Sept. 10, the daily syndicated talk show fronted by news anchor Anderson Cooper will be called Anderson Live, reflecting a shift from airing two weeks after taping to broadcasting live at least four days a week. "We want the show to have its own life," says executive producer Terence Noonan. "When you think about a water cooler, what people are talking about -- whether it's the biggest celebrity, the biggest newsmaker, the best reality shows, to what Anderson did over the weekend -- will be part of our topically driven talk show." (As to whether Cooper will incorporate his recent coming out, Noonan offers, "If it is organic to the conversation. ... You'll have to tune in to see.")
The key was moving the production from a beautiful space in Lincoln Center, where they had to tear down the set after the show each day (and, as such, were restricted as to when they could shoot), to a dedicated studio space at CBS. Seating about 200, the new set will put Cooper closer to the audience for increased interaction. There also will be a co-host -- a celebrity, newsmaker or other notable; they'll rotate on a daily or weekly basis -- to help stimulate the conversation. And the show is making significant innovations in the use of social media, beginning with tweeting or posting on Facebook each morning a newsy topic, question or quiz -- all in an effort to goose the ratings from the first season's 1.4 average. "People can talk back to us live through daily polls," says Noonan. "Anderson can read tweets and post them onscreen. Any way people can send us a direct message can now be included in the program." He adds, "It's about creating a community of people."
The relaunch is in tune with Cooper and Noonan's belief that things need to move quickly in the digital age, a belief that was hamstrung by their inability to broadcast live and react to news as it was happening. "You have to be realistic and recognize there are only so many stories and so many celebrities, and there are a lot of shows," says Noonan. "So we're positioning ourselves as a place people want to come to, that viewers want to watch, especially newsmakers and people with a great story to tell. This is the place they'll want to come, and you know what? Nobody else has Anderson Cooper. We do."