Cooper’s announcement came on TV’s Take Out the Trash Day, when industry suits who have not developed a hit series in the past 18 months generally begin to tremble at 5 p.m. — the witching hour when those “esteemed executive is leaving to pursue other interests” news releases are e-mailed with the expectation that a) many reporters already have left to get a head start on their holiday revelry; or b) the news will be reported in poorly read holiday editions.
Way back in 2005, for instance, ABC announced the evening before Thanksgiving that it had canceled J.J. Abrams’s “Alias,” which was then the longest-running unsuccessful prime-time series on television.
More recently, Fox announced the Friday before the Labor Day weekend that “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi had “decided” to leave the country’s most popular television show to return to obscurity.
And, also probably not a coincidence, Cooper was not scheduled to appear live on either of his two TV shows Monday.
His daytime syndicated show is in repeats until Sept. 10. Meanwhile, CNN said Monday afternoon that Cooper was out of the country on assignment for CBS’s “60 Minutes” and that Ashleigh Banfield would anchor “AC360” that night.
Coming out of the closet has historically been considered a dicey move for on-air talent — even news talent. But Cooper’s got little to lose.
In syndication, “Anderson” concluded its season with ratings that put Cooper ahead of Wendy Williams and Nate Berkus but behind Kelly Ripa, Maury Povich, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Springer and Rachael Ray. Back in February, when “Anderson” celebrated its 100th episode, the Associated Press noted there was some question whether “Anderson” would have survived to another season were it not for the distribution might of its syndicator, Telepictures Productions.
Meanwhile, Cooper’s CNN show had a disastrous first quarter, averaging a mere 472,000 viewers, in keeping with CNN’s worst quarter, ratings-wise, in more than two decades.
‘Newsroom’ picked up
True to form, HBO announced a season pickup the morning after premiering a series’s second episode. On Monday, the network said it had ordered a second season of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom.”
The freshman drama stars Jeff Daniels as a news anchor who radically changes his cable news show after his public rant about the state of the country goes viral. Emily Mortimer co-stars as his ex-girlfriend/new exec producer.
HBO describes it as a series about a cable news anchor and his new executive producer and staff as “they set out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal relationships.”
TV critics described the show as having characters who “never stop speechifying to one another, replacing believable dialogue with that unmistakably Sorkinesque logorrhea of righteous self-importance” (The Washington Post), and a series that “chokes on its own sanctimony” with characters who “aren’t just quixotic, they cite Cervantes to one another” (the New York Times).
Which, apparently, appeals to HBO subscribers.
The series premiere snagged an average of 2.1 million viewers, making it one of the channel’s most-watched launches in recent years. HBO issued those numbers the Monday after that unveiling.
Yet despite Monday’s second-season pickup announcement, HBO reps said they did not have second-episode stats available. They told us to check back Tuesday.
HBO also announced that it had renewed vampire drama “True Blood” for a sixth season. That show scored 5.4 million viewers in its Season 5 opener in June.