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Anderson Cooper’s new daytime format may require some juggling

By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Already one of the busiest correspondents working in television, production changes to his daily talk show could have CNN’s Anderson Cooper doing even more juggling in the months ahead.

Besides having his own CNN show and serving as a correspondent for CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Cooper is also entering his second season as host of “Anderson Live,” a daytime talk show that is distributed by Warner Bros.

During the first season, Cooper taped his shows a couple of days a week, which gave him some flexibility and didn’t interfere with his CNN duties.

But ratings for the show were disappointing and now Cooper will do it live every day with a rotation of guest co-hosts. The hope is that by doing the show live and with a partner, the show will feel fresher and ratings will improve. It is set to debut on Sept. 10.

At the same time, though, Cooper will continue to chase stories for CNN, which could cause complications in terms of logistics and content.

For example, if Hurricane Isaac had taken place a few weeks from now, when “Anderson Live” was in production,” Cooper would broadcast from there with the co-host handling duties in New York.

That would require scrambling to find a studio for Cooper or having do remotes from the storm. While that is what he does on CNN all the time, daytime TV is a different beast. The audience there is looking for an escape, not more reasons to be depressed.

The new approach to Cooper’s show will definitely be something of a balancing act. When Cooper jets off to cover the latest tragedy or big storm, his daytime show will have to cover that while at the same time offering up the usual soft interviews with celebrities. It may create some awkward segues.

“Anderson Live” executive producer Terence Noonan is not worried.

“If you look at what works in daytime, people are looking for relevant topical information,” he said. “We wanted the show to be live so we could react to what people are talking about it.”

That is true, but the audience is not necessarily looking for that in a hard news form. Oprah Winfrey didn’t shy away from sensitive stories or tragedy, but it was rarely done in the heat of the moment.

Trying to play to Cooper’s strengths and giving the sometimes stiff host a co-host to loosen him up is not a bad idea. It’s just not a sure bet that if the show bounces back and forth between soft and hard content that it will work for daytime television

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