Anderson Cooper’s CNN Studio Audience Talk Show Debuts Tonight

Last night Anderson Cooper 360 producer Jack Gray tweeted: “tomorrow night 10pmET, 360 Friday, a different format for #AC360. We hope you’ll tune in. Should be fun. #CNN.”

We hear this “different format” is the much-discussed studio audience special, debuting tonight.

In early April, several outlets reported on “specials” CNN was taping with a studio audience, hosted by Anderson Cooper. “CNN is calling the trial episodes ’specials’ to keep expectations low in case the project doesn’t make it to the series stage,” reported The Hollywood Reporter at the time.

Regardless of what happened with those initial trial episodes, we hear this talk show special, that airs tonight, was taped this week and features Cooper, a studio audience and a panel of guests. While CNN described the tone of the specials as “conversational” at the time, we hear the tone is mixed – with some harder news segments and other lighter segments.

In fact, it sounds like it could be similar to the traditional AC: 360 episode – except with pauses for applause.

It seems highly unlikely the show becomes studio audience-only – very few shows on cable news are. Mike Huckabee’s weekly show has a studio audience, but the only regular weekday show with an audience in recent memory was FNC’s Dayside, hosted by Linda Vester than Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy and canceled years ago.

And Cooper isn’t unfamiliar with studio audiences. He has frequently filled in for Regis Philbin on Live with Regis and Kelly. But this program sounds more Oprah than The View.

This premiere will apparently air in the usual AC: 360 timeslot at 10pmET, but it could easily slide back to the 11pmET repeat on an occasional basis. Depending on how the show goes tonight, we could see it return in the future. It wouldn’t hurt CNN to shake things up a bit.

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Bill Maher Visits CNN To Talk ‘Bullies’, ‘Question Marks’ And ‘Lazy Moneygrubbers’

Bill Maher is a comedian who considers himself a relevant political commentator. To his credit, he likes to test his substantive mettle outside of his home turf on HBO sometimes, and yesterday he visited Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Situation Room for a rapidfire round of commentary on all the day’s top stories, from Afghanistan to Arizona, Elena Kagan and Levi Johnston. Across the topics, a uniform disappointment was noticeable with the Obama administration, despite pointing out that he is still a fan.

Blitzer starts off with a serious question on the future of America’s relationship with Afghanistan, and before you can think it, Maher responds “Well, first of all, I’m just very flattered that I’m your go-to guy on Afghanistan and Karzai because, you know, who better?”

He expresses disappointment with the continued war in Afghanistan, citing that the terrorists “are already here,” so fighting them over there doesn’t make sense to him. The way the Obama administration has handled the Gulf oil spill and, on a greater scale, the oil industry in general is also “not one of the places where I’m a big fan,” though he notes that he is more upset with “how this country has handled oil” than the White House specifically.

He wasn’t too happy with Elena Kagan, either, though he praised her for being prepared to be a Supreme Court Justice despite being young enough to be judicial “jailbait.” Citing how little is known about her beliefs, Maher argued that Obama should have picked someone openly liberal, just as George W. Bush picked openly conservative justices. “We could do a lot better than a question mark,” he concluded.

Maher saved the best for Sarah Palin, however, who he called a “lazy moneygrubber” and added, “you know who had it right? That Levi.”

The Situation Room segment below:


Supporters And Opponents Of AZ Ethnic Studies Agree: The Other Side Is Racist

Arizona has doubled down on its racially-charged controversies this week with a new law opposing ethnic studies in public schools. Last night, CNN’s Anderson Cooper invited Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction (and Attorney General candidate) and sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson to debate the issue, and rather than come to a concensus on what’s best for students, both sides came to the conclusion that the other is racist.

Opponents of this new law in general call it another discriminatory policy from the people that institutionalized racial profiling, though Dyson kept to discussing the actual law at hand. Dyson argued that, because of a history of oppression directly related to certain ethnicities, a focus on that past in America is necessary so as to understand certain racial and ethnic attitudes that, without historical context, seem to have no foundation. In other words, banning ethnic studies perpetuates the kind of ignorance that leads to discrimination.

And in this corner, Horne argued that, while the ideal of every possible ethnic history being taught in schools is positive, the practical implications of ethnic studies programs are that minority children end up being segregated by race into classes where only the history of that race is taught. Rather than classify history by ethnicity, Horne argued, schools should abandon a “race-obsessed philosophy” and teach the same curriculum to students of all backgrounds. In other words, allowing ethnic studies perpetuates the kind of ignorance that leads to discrimination.

The most exemplary exchange in the debate for the general attitude of both sides comes late in the segment, when Dyson argues that “Martin Luther King [he comes up often in this clip] cannot by used to justify xenophobic and racist passions that are dressed up as desires to reform the curriculum.” Horne replies, “I think the xenophobia and racism is on your side.”

Video below:


Developing: FBI Raids Homes In Mass. And New York In Times Sq. Bomb Probe (VIDEO)

Can we officially consider the Times Sq. bomber ‘lone wolf’ theory completely dead? The FBI conducted raids this morning near Boston and out on Long Island in connection with the attempted car bombing of Times Sq. earlier this month. The FBI reportedly took two people into custody. According to CNN the raids are a direct result of information obtained from Faisal Shahzad, who has still not appeared in court to be arraigned on charges — he has waived that right and “is still talking.” CNN also says these raids are “definitely involved in the financing of operations.” Video of the CNN segment below. And this from the New York Times:

Federal authorities on Thursday raided several locations in the Northeast and took two people into custody as part of an investigation into the failed Times Square car bombing, which Obama administration officials have said was aided and directed by the Pakistani Taliban, according to F.B.I. officials in Boston and a Justice Department spokesman in Washington.

The statement said the actions “do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States” and were undertaken based on evidence that was gathered in the investigation that followed the car bomb attempt on May 1.

“We can confirm that search warrants have been executed in several locations in the Northeast in connection with the investigation into the attempted Times Square bombing,” said the statement, released by the office of Warren Bamford, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Boston office.

No word yet on the nationality of the people who were taken into custody or how they might be specifically connected to Faisal Shahzad. Video below.


Sean Hannity Finishing 2nd In Demo Tuesday As Ratings Grow

Cable news ratings, May 11, 2010: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

• While Bill O’Reilly remained host of the top cable news show on Tuesday in both categories, Sean Hannity finished 2nd in the A25-54 demographic. Hannity had his best demo rating since May 3. Glenn Beck was #2 in total viewers.

• The top non-FNC show in the demo was Rachel Maddow’s 9pmET MSNBC program, while the top non-FNC show in total viewers was her competitor, Larry King on CNN.

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

556

Blitzer

177

Matthews

184

Showbiz

94

6 pm

Baier

418

Blitzer

191

Ed Show

191

Prime

77

7 pm

Shep

418

King, USA

161

Matthews

171

Issues

159

8 pm

O’Reilly

694

Brown

96

Olbermann

238

Grace

154

9 pm

Hannity

567

King

210

Maddow

243

Behar

115

10 pm

Greta

422

Cooper

146

Olbermann

227

Grace

188

11 pm

O’Reilly

445

Cooper

147

Maddow

163

Showbiz

105

TOTAL DAY 315 131 118 111
PRIME TIME 561 151 236 149
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

2165

Blitzer

621

Matthews

623

Showbiz

182

6 pm

Baier

2129

Blitzer

544

Ed Show

708

Prime

202

7 pm

Shep

1792

King, USA

505

Matthews

631

Issues

408

8 pm

O’Reilly

2819

Brown

374

Olbermann

959

Grace

437

9 pm

Hannity

2034

King

1136

Maddow

867

Behar

502

10 pm

Greta

1548

Cooper

650

Olbermann

572

Grace

589

11 pm

O’Reilly

1360

Cooper

410

Maddow

376

Showbiz

338

TOTAL DAY 1170 444 392 285
PRIME TIME 2134 740 799 501
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.


Ted Turner Discuss CNN’s Hits (And Misses)… On CNN

Just as Wolf Blitzer reached his 20th anniversary with CNN recently, he conducted a lengthy chat with the guy who started the network 30 years ago: Ted Turner.

The wide-ranging interview touched on some of Turner’s favorite topics – energy, the environment, his success at CNN – and some topics that very clearly were those Blitzer’s former CNN boss didn’t want to discuss.

The first topic was about energy, and Turner was excited by some of the recent developments coming from the Democrats. He gave the Obama administration a “B” so far for their efforts, although he said, “I would have liked to the see the energy issue come up first before health care.”

But when the interview shifted to the economy, Turner clammed up (“I’m not in the financial advice business,” he said). It would be a theme of the discussion – Turner can talk for hours about topics he wants to bring to light, but clearly the finances of the country, or him personally, was not one of them

Then it was the time in The Situation Room to talk about the “the CNN situation.”

Blitzer: You’re no longer involved in CNN.
Turner: Unfortunately.
Blitzer: But you created CNN 30 years ago.
Turner: Yeah, I watch it every day.
Blitzer: What do you think?
Turner: You know, I’d like to see a little more international news.

He also lamented the loss of CNN’s Science, Space, and Environmental Unit in December 2008 and said he wouldn’t be surprised if the cabler merged with a broadcast network (CBS is the most recent possibility).

At every turn, Turner balked at talks of money. He wouldn’t say more than one-word when Blitzer inquired about the winning bet he made when he started CNN, gaining enormous financial success from the gamble. When Blitzer discussed his billion-dollar philanthropic efforts, Turner appeared disinterested. The awkwardness was saved by a clear point of pride for Turner – CNN’s coverage of the Gulf War. Turner and Blitzer recall the on-the-ground war coverage put CNN on the map for good. But it really opened the door for cable news as a whole.

Here’s the full interview:

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Let’s Try This Again: How Much Web Video Is Really iPad-Ready?

Steve Jobs says there’s no reason to cling to Flash video on the Web, because most Web video also works on the H.264/HTML5 standard he’s supporting.

But Adobe (ADBE) says the majority of the Web’s video uses its Flash standard. And if you surf the Web via Apple’s (AAPL) iPad, you’ll quickly find clips that don’t work on the Flash-free device. Instead of video, you’ll confront the dreaded blue box.

So who’s right? Depends, of course, on whom you ask. But the answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

Earlier this month, Encoding.com said that 66 percent of the videos it processes are in iPad-friendly H.264, adding that this number reflects the wider Web. But MeFeedia, a video search engine, which says it catalogs millions of videos from 30,000 sources, pegs the H.264 universe at a much lower number, 26 percent of all clips.

The two data sets aren’t necessarily at odds. Encoding.com is looking at clips it has been paid to…encode. while MeFeedia is looking at a wider range of clips, including lots of old ones that publishers either don’t want to re-encode or haven’t gotten around to re-encoding yet.

And it’s a perfectly rational decision for some publishers with big video archives–say, the New York Times (NYT)–to encode only their newer clips in H.264 for now. Because the new clips are probably responsible for the majority of their views.

It’s also worth noting that MeFeedia says it is tracking videos around the world. So its numbers are skewed by giant video sites like China’s Youku.com and Tudou.com, which are all-Flash.

Still, the H.264 cohort is growing. MeFeedia says that when it did the same tally in January, it found just 10 percent of clips in H.264. Easy enough to explain the jump as an “iPad effect.” And MeFeedia CEO Frank Sinton says that he has seen many publishers move aggressively to make their stuff iPad-ready: He cites Break, Vimeo, CNN and DailyMotion, among others.

No Flash Lego speed design from Tony Gil on Vimeo.

[Image credit: Tony Gil]