Talkshow playing to host Cooper's strengths

Syndicated Warner Bros. talker “Anderson,” starring CNN anchor and household name Anderson Cooper, is showing some ratings traction after getting off to a slow start in September.

In the week ending Jan. 22, “Anderson” hit a series high 1.6 national household rating, up 7% from the prior week, and up 33% from two weeks earlier.

“Anderson” already has been renewed for a second season, with Fox picking up the show in New York, Minneapolis and Tampa next year and renewing it in Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. By acquiring the show, Fox gave “Anderson” a second chance, because Tribune wasn’t planning on renewing it in New York.

Though “Anderson” is on the rise in the national ratings, it’s still struggling on Tribune’s WPIX New York, where it averaged a 0.6 at 4 p.m. in the November 2011 sweeps, and was the lowest-rated show on the station for the entire day. Meanwhile, Fox’s WNYW New York, where “Anderson” is headed in September, is on a sharp ratings upswing this season.

The team behind “Anderson” has been working on growing the show, switching out its original executive producers — Lisa Morin and Jim Murphy — in favor of Terence Noonan, who came aboard in November.

The team also is making sure to play to Cooper’s strengths, staying up to the minute with its choices of guests and segments, says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures, the division of Warner Bros. Television that produces “Anderson.”

“We really tried to focus on staying topical and on what Anderson’s point of view is on current stories, which is clearly what people admire and respect about him,” says McLoughlin. “He has a great handle and point of view on a broad range of material.”

“Anderson” also has been able to grab some strong celebrity bookings in recent weeks, including Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Katherine Heigl, Dolly Parton and Madonna.

“Celebrities like him,” says McLoughlin. “He asks good and challenging questions but doesn’t make them uncomfortable. He provides a different take on the celebrity interview.”

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