By Caryn James | James on Screens September 12, 2011 at 10:21AM
There were a couple of things on Anderson Cooper’s new talk show that you wouldn’t have seen on CNN:
- The extremely young studio audience, an aberration because the producers had brought in Amy Winehouse fans for the interview with her parents.
- Cooper’s awkward hug with an audience member who was choked up about Winehouse’s influence on her. Anderson is sympathetic, but doesn’t quite have the hug-or-not-hug thing down yet.
Otherwise, much of the first Anderson could easily have been on CNN in a shorter version – that’s partly a sign of how the distance between cable news and entertainment is shrinking, but also a clue to the Anderson persona here. He’s still a reporter, nudging Winehouse’s family for details about how they got the news of her death, what was in the toxicology report.
There wasn’t real news there (but then there’s often not much news on the news). The final toxicology report arrives next month, but Winehouse’s father believes that the effects of binge drinking, then stopping, then drinking again caused a seizure and her death.
We did see that Amy Winehouse looked a lot like her mother, and got at least some of her on-screen presence from her father, who was a lively and often touching guest.
In the produced pieces about Winehouse's career and death, there was some mawkish narration and one moment of bracing realism when Cooper said of the many musicians who have died far too young, “Small consolation to say that their music lives on.” But the premiere show was mostly about consolation, and Cooper was a solid host.
I happen to like the fact that he was sympathetic and kind but not all gooshy, warm-and-fuzzy. We’ll see how long that lasts in a world where Oprah, the Great Sympathizer, has left a talk-show sized vacuum.
Here's more from the show.
Winehouse's father recalls the black butterfly that arrived at her funeral:
Cooper asks the family how important the consolation of Winehouse fans has been:
Check out my earlier post for more video and details about the show and this week's guests. The audience may not stay so young, but Cooper is really working social media, with tweets from himself (@andersoncooper) and behind-the-scenes from the show (@anderson) and a web site, Andersoncooper.com.