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Anderson Cooper: The Next Oprah?

Ever since Oprah Winfrey announced she's shuttering her daytime syndicated talk show at the end of this season, Hollywood's TV studios have been scrambling to find The Next Oprah.

Time Warner thinks it might be -- Anderson Cooper.

The studio's TV syndication operation, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, announced Thursday it has signed Cooper to star in his own one-hour daily talk show, while continuing to anchor his primetime show on Time Warner's CNN for, as Cooper put it in a statement issued by CNN, "years to come," because the ratings-fumbling cable news network has just extended his deal.

Launching Cooper into the daytime talk arena makes a lot of sense because the target audience for daytime TV syndication is women 25-54. And, in the third quarter of 2010, primetime's Cooper's CNN show "AC 360" averaged 82,000 women 25-54, according to Nielsen, compared to the third quarter of '09 when the show averaged 192,000 women 25-54. Oh wait.....

But, of course, Cooper is a celebrity in his own right - member of the famous Vanderbilt family, son of fashion icon Gloria Vanderbilt, Channel One trailblazer, ABC News staffer, "The Mole" host, "60 Minutes" contributor" - and the daytime TV audience these days does love watching celebrities interview celebrities. Like when Rosie O'Donnell had her own talk show and, more recently, Ellen DeGeneres. Not coincidentally, both those shows hail from Warner Bros. and Telepictures Prods., which are partnered on the new Cooper show.

Cooper joins a lineup of national news talent who've made the transition to daytime that also includes Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira, Jane Pauley and, if recent news reports pan out, maybe Bryant Gumbel.

Also not coincidentally, Warner Bros. and Telepictures wanted to stress the celebritude of Cooper in Thursday's announcement in which they said they had signed the Emmy Award winning "personality" Cooper. And Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures, noted the hallmark of her company's success has been "attracting iconic talent and building franchises based on their personalities."

In his daytime strip, Cooper will address "water cooler topics," interview "real people," "populist newsmakers" and "celebrities" behind the stories of the day, and will use "undercover investigations" and "hidden camera experiments" to explore "relevant issues and social trends affecting women's lives," the producers said.

Cooper is no stranger to daytime talk TV; among other gigs he's filled in often for Regis Philbin on "Live with Regis and Kelly."

So far, the race to replace Oprah, who's leaving the world of daytime syndication to launch cable's Oprah Winfrey Network, also reportedly includes Dr. Oz, Jenny McCarthy and Nancy Grace, with more names to come we're sure.

And here's Anderson Cooper filling in on "Live with Regis and Kelly" in 2008:

By Lisa de Moraes  | September 30, 2010; 12:53 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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