What’s happened to Anderson Cooper? I mean, recently he let down his carefully-clipped white/blonde hair during a guest appearance on “Joy Behar” (you know, the Turncoat who professed to women fans she’d never get married and, in sneak fashion, went ahead and did it.)
He appears to be undergoing his own metamorphosis.
Now, I have to tell the truth. Pretty much every time I saw Anderson Cooper on TV programs in past years, I listened briefly to lead-in and quickly changed the channel. Why? Watching him, I knew I’d witness a disaster of tsunami, hurricane, or tornado proportions; I’d join imbedded journalists in war-ravaged regions (Iraq, Afghanistan); or I’d know man‘s inhumanity to man (Bosnia, Serbia.)
In other words, if I saw Anderson, I knew the story was going to be tough, and I didn‘t want to “Go there.”
I wasn’t alone in my impression. That association of Cooper with ’all things dire’ prompted The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart (you know, ‘most trusted newsperson in America,’) to lampoon him by saying: “If you look out your window and see Anderson on your lawn, you know it’s bad.”
But recently, I see a different Anderson Cooper. He basically ‘lost it‘ recently by giggling non-stop, on his “Ridiculist” segment of AC 360, where he referenced actor Gerard Depardieu’s unseemly behavior on a recent airplane flight, urinating in a bottle pre-takeoff.
On “Joy Behar,” Anderson admitted a guilty pleasure of tuning in to the “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” and offered, too, that he recently went spray-tanning with Snooki (he used that footage on his new show). Apparently, he and Snooki have had ongoing Twitter dialogue for the past many months and he finds her self-deprecation charming. He adds “Not many celebrities poke fun at themselves. She doesn’t take herself too seriously.”
The most interesting aspect of his guest appearance on Behar? His background. Oh, I knew he was son to famous artist, designer, writer and heiress, Gloria Vanderbilt. I mistakenly presumed his privileged upbringing got him where he is.
After all–Just look at his chiseled nose and chin that scream “aristocratic.” Put him on a steed in Ralph Lauren (he actually was a Ralph Lauren model at a very young age) and he’s one of the gentrified set off to the hunt.
I thought he dabbled in real work as means of atonement for all that privilege.
Then I heard his story. Anderson was raised by a mother who suffered significant loss: Her father died when she was young, and her mother lost custody of her to an aunt. Her sad story was chronicled in the movie, “Little Gloria…Happy At Last.”
As a woman, she suffered more losses: Anderson’s father died when Anderson was 11. There were multiple marriages. And then there’s the heartache of his older brother, Carter, who, at 23, committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window of the family’s 14 th .-floor penthouse apartment. She witnessed the awful event.
If Anderson sought international crises to cover, it would appear understandable: He’s grown up against a backdrop of high drama.
In the end, what most of us in the viewing public are not used to, is a more relaxed Anderson Cooper. Oh, sure, he’s had his moments (with Kathy Griffin at the New Year’s Eve parade) or standing in for Regis Philbin, on the Regis and Kelly Show, but a consistently-upbeat Anderson? That never happened.
As viewer, I’m happy to see it. My message to Anderson (I feel we can be on first-name basis now): You’ve spent inordinate time earning serious stripes in the world of serious journalism. But ferrying folks across the River Styx to the Land of the Dead should never be your main focus.
Find the stories that tickle your funny bone and share them with us. That’s what we in the audience really want to hear. Yes, Anderson, giggle more, and we’ll giggle with you.
It’s well-nigh time you enjoy your place in the sun. There’s no one in journalism who deserves it more.