Will Anderson Cooper be able to balance his duties as CNN’s primetime star -- and frequent foreign correspondent -- with his new gig as a daytime talk show host?
Aside from queries about his upbringing, that was the question du jour during Tuesday’s session with Cooper at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Tour.
Cooper’s answer? Yes -- without equivocation or reservation.
“We can do full daytime wherever I am or insert a live top,” he said. “We have complete flexibility to respond to events as we see warranted.”
More to the point, he already balances his contributions to “60 Minutes” and feels comfortable adding a far larger commitment, which “Anderson” will be.
I manage my time very well,” he said. “It’s all very doable. It’s a lot of work, but I like work hard…plus it’s TV, so it’s not like it’s real work.”
When one reporter pointed out Cooper would be missing tonight’s show and suggested that his new job is already affecting his primetime show, Cooper said it would be just his seventh day of vacation all year -- and that he is sick.
“I get 30 days off a year...and I end the year without taking 10 days of vacation,” he said. “I’ve left just about every vacation I’ve ever had to cover stories.”
Sick or not, Cooper seemed to charm everyone in the room.
He joked about his New York studio seating 20,000 when in reality it holds 400. He said that Mariah Carey deserves a nightly TV program. Most popular of all, he put on a performance.
When asked about using social media, he said the show already had a Twitter page, Facebook page, YouTube channel and Tumblr. He then adopted the persona of an older woman and asked, “What else are the kids doing today? The Tumblr, exactly…we’re doing all the stuff on the internetz.” Applause followed.
Cooper assured the audience he has fully embraced social media -- Twitter in particular. He said it is now the first thing he checks in the morning for news, and the last thing he checks at night.
Yet if Cooper was definite about the show’s social media engagement, he was less willing to commit when it came to format or style.
The focus will shift daily, and it could be one subject or several.
As more and more people asked whom he would be emulating, he said he would be stealing different bits from different hosts -- Phil Donahue, Ellen DeGeneres, Regis Philbin and even Oprah Winfrey.
He wants Donahue’s audience engagement, Ellen and Regis’ spontaneity and Oprah’s range of topics.
In short, he wants the best of everything. (And who doesn’t?)
The one subject on which he was particularly forthcoming was that of his childhood, something he has already written a book about. He discussed the loss of his father and brother, as well all of the worldly people his mother introduced him to. Charlie Chaplin looked old and tired while photographer Gordon Parks inspired him to be a journalist.
Well now he is, and as someone who has lived most of his life in the spotlight, one more show can’t hurt.