What Does The Future Hold For CNN’s Anderson Cooper?

By Alex Weprin 

CNN’s Anderson Cooper has long been called “the face of CNN” inside the halls of the CNN Center in Atlanta, and Time Warner Center in New York. His show “AC360” is on twice in primetime (though probably not for too much longer), and he has become the face of CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcasts alongside comedienne Kathy Griffin.

Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva, well-sourced in the TV world, reports that Cooper was recently approached by NBC about potentially replacing Matt Lauer on “Today” when the anchor’s contract expires. He also taped a pilot for CNN–just yesterday–with Griffin, effectively taking the New Year’s Eve concept and making it a more regular thing.

Regular readers may also recall that Cooper’s name came up as a potential replacement for Alex Trebek on Jeopardy!, although that is still a few year’s off.

One thing is clear: the next few months will likely decide Cooper’s fate at CNN. With the cancellation of his daytime talk show, Cooper is believed to have more flexibility in his contract, potentially allowing him to look into other opportunities. That said, and as the pilot indicates, CNN executives do not want to lose the anchor, whose name has become synonymous with terrific field reportage. “CNN does not want to lose Anderson, he is the best thing they have going right now,” one staffer told TVNewser.

Cooper’s show routinely battles with “Piers Morgan Live” over which draws the most viewers for the network, though because Cooper’s show airs in two timeslots (8pmET and 10pmET), it is not a perfect comparison.

Cooper also appears with some regularity on CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes.” CBS is said to be fond of the anchor, and is considered to be a potential suitor as well. For now, Cooper is ensconced at CNN, and if his pilot with Griffin went well (and if Griffin can get out of her contract with Bravo), he may stay there for years to come, but there is clearly interest in the anchor from other networks, and potentially some wiggle room for him to depart, if he so desires.