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.