Oct 122011
 
Authors: David Hiltbrand McClatchy-Tribune

NEW YORK — 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 “60 Minutes” contributor Anderson Cooper.

Yet to many people’s vast surprise, he’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 generation’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.

“I started filling in for Regis (on “Live! with Regis and Kelly”), and I did some things for Oprah,” says Cooper, 44. “And 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.”

“So many people know him as this champion of people who have no voice,” says Kelly Ripa. “When he started hosting with me, we brought out the irreverent side of him.”

Cooper’s executive producer, Cathy Chermol Schrijver, says, “When we started talking about this show and developing it, anyone who hadn’t seen him on ‘Regis and Kelly’ would say, ‘Really? For daytime?’ He just didn’t seem like the natural choice.

“But he’s so well-versed on everything, including pop culture. He knows more about ‘The Real Housewives’ than I think they do.”

The other question demanding attention: How in the world does he find time to attend to all his jobs? There’s “Anderson” weekdays in syndication, “Anderson Cooper 360º” weeknights on CNN, and a recently increased workload on “60 Minutes” for CBS.

It’s a good thing TV doesn’t have too many openings on the graveyard shift.

“He has a full plate, obviously,” says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions, which syndicates “Anderson,” giving new meaning to the word understatement. “He’s been managing it really well. He’s got one of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen.”

“It takes incredible discipline,” says Chermol Schrijver. “And he has that. If he didn’t, this could never work. Ever. He has an unbelievable ability to do this and his news show and packages for ‘60 Minutes.’

“I asked him, ‘When are you going to get that done?’ He said, ‘I do a lot of the ‘60 Minutes’ on weekends because it involves traveling to other parts of the world.’ I was like, ‘Oh well, of course. It’s only an 18-hour plane ride.’”

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