Anderson Cooper consistently excels at the age-old journalists' credo to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Now he is determined to give the afflicted a voice.
Besides CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" and his contributions to CBS' "60 Minutes," there will be more of him on TV with a syndicated daytime talk show, "Anderson," premiering Monday, Sept. 12.
"I've been reporting for 20 years," Cooper says. "I am 44. I really wanted to get more out of life. I want to laugh more every day and live more every day. It's not enough to just survive. I have to thrive. I spend a lot of time just trying to make a living. I wanted to figure out how to get more out of every day. What I like the most about work is meeting people in a disaster or conflict and to give them a voice."
Seven weeks before the show's launch, Cooper talked for a long time, without publicists and producers, with Zap2it. The show could feature celebrities, and Cooper isn't above reality show fascinations; he loves the "Real Housewives."
Yet hosting a talk show doesn't mean he's abandoning serious reporting. His most recent trip to Somalia, shedding light on children starving to death, proves he remains a committed journalist.
At the heart of "Anderson" is "giving voice to people who have faced difficulties," he says. "I started traveling in the wake of my brother's suicide."
To juggle his different gigs, Anderson plans to shoot two episodes of the talk show three days a week. This would still allow him to cover breaking news, such as his trips to Egypt, Japan and Joplin, Mo.
The guileless manner Anderson has one on one is what comes across on TV.
When he dissolved into a fit of giggles mid-August while reading an item containing 21 puns about French actor Gerard Depardieu urinating on a plane, Cooper immediately put himself on that segment of his show, "RidicuList."
"It is a little embarrassing because I giggle like a 13-year-old girl meeting Justin Bieber," he says.
It's precisely that attitude that will continue to win viewers. He seems constitutionally incapable of putting on airs, though his mother was designer and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt and his dad was writer Wyatt Cooper.
Cooper is fully aware of the many daytime talk show cancellations.
"If it works, great, if it doesn't ...," his voice trails off. "I have a staff of people who want it to work."
As he talks he bats around potential topics for the show. "We can do an entire audience of kids who have been affected (by bullying)," he says. "There are just a lot of unfair things that happen."
Cooper doesn't try to hype himself.
"There is a high failure rate," with daytime talk shows, he says. "It may very well fail. I am a big believer in playing into the things that you fear the most. As an adult, I try not to worry. From when I was 10, I had a furrowed brow. And my dad used to say, 'Enjoy, enjoy.' Obviously, I want this to work, and it can be a great life-enhancing thing for viewers. And if it fails, I'll still have my job at CNN, unless I really fail and they get rid of me, too."
He considers that he could wait tables again, though he admits to being awful at it when he was a teen. He worked at an Upper East Side restaurant and served some of his mom's friends. They didn't recognize him when he was a waiter.
And that taught him about having no voice.
Anderson Cooper tries new gig: daytime talk show host
Anderson Cooper hosts the syndicated weekday show "Anderson," premiering Monday.
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