NEW YORK â€” Conjure, if you will, a hosting model that is the very antithesis of Oprah.
It would be a man, obviously. Kabuki-complected. Albino white hair. Slender as a matador. Raised in privileged circumstances in Manhattan in a family with old-money ties. Ivy League educated.
We have your man: globe-sprinting CNN reporter and â€œ60 Minutesâ€ contributor Anderson Cooper.
Yet to many peopleâ€™s vast surprise, heâ€™s doing a bang-up job of filling the void left by Miss O with his new daytime talk show, Anderson. While continuing all his hard-news duties.
Several questions immediately fling up their hands, clamoring to be answered.
How does this generationâ€™s Dan Rather handle the fizzy, showbizzy fare that is part and parcel of the chat format?
Freakishly well. It may surprise you to learn that Cooper is a pop-culture omnivore.
That side of his temperament has emerged only in the last few years.
â€œI started filling in for Regis (on â€œLive! with Regis and Kellyâ€), and I did some things for Oprah,â€ says Cooper, 44. â€œAnd I found that I enjoyed the variety of topics, the enthusiasm of the audience, and the fun you could have on a daily basis. I began to show my personality in a less formal setting.â€
â€œSo many people know him as this champion of people who have no voice,â€ says Kelly Ripa. â€œWhen he started hosting with me, we brought out the irreverent side of him.â€
Cooperâ€™s executive producer, Cathy Chermol Schrijver, says, â€œWhen we started talking about this show and developing it, anyone who hadnâ€™t seen him on â€˜Regis and Kellyâ€™ would say, â€˜Really? For daytime?â€™ He just didnâ€™t seem like the natural choice.
â€œBut heâ€™s so well-versed on everything, including pop culture. He knows more about â€˜The Real Housewivesâ€™ than I think they do.â€
The other question demanding attention: How in the world does he find time to attend to all his jobs? Thereâ€™s â€œAndersonâ€ weekdays in syndication, â€œAnderson Cooper 360Âºâ€ weeknights on CNN, and a recently increased workload on â€œ60 Minutesâ€ for CBS.
Itâ€™s a good thing TV doesnâ€™t have too many openings on the graveyard shift.
â€œHe has a full plate, obviously,â€ says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions, which syndicates â€œAnderson,â€ giving new meaning to the word understatement. â€œHeâ€™s been managing it really well. Heâ€™s got one of the best work ethics Iâ€™ve ever seen.â€
â€œIt takes incredible discipline,â€ says Chermol Schrijver. â€œAnd he has that. If he didnâ€™t, this could never work. Ever. He has an unbelievable ability to do this and his news show and packages for â€˜60 Minutes.â€™
â€œI asked him, â€˜When are you going to get that done?â€™ He said, â€˜I do a lot of the â€˜60 Minutesâ€™ on weekends because it involves traveling to other parts of the world.â€™ I was like, â€˜Oh well, of course. Itâ€™s only an 18-hour plane ride.â€™â€