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Anderson Cooper Coming to Daytime

Anderson Cooper has finalized a deal to host a syndicated daytime talk show set to launch in fall 2011.

The show is from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and its Telepictures production unit.

In making the announcement on Thursday, Warner Bros. Domestic Television president Ken Werner noted the "great opportunity in the marketplace" next year when the dominant daytime personality Oprah Winfrey exits for cable and OWN.

"Fall '11 begins a transition period when long established franchises are leaving the air and making way for a new generation of shows," said Werner in a statement. "Anderson Cooper is one of the most distinctive voices of the next generation of television. His popularity and skills uniquely position him to be the next big syndication franchise."

Cooper will also executive produce the program, which will aim to present daytime subjects grounded in journalism.

Copper is no stranger to daytime: he's made more than 30 appearances on Disney-ABC's Live with Regis and Kelly, substituting for Regis Philbin, and multiple appearances on CBS Television Distribution's Oprah.

"The format is unique and you can really go in-depth on a wide range of fascinating and compelling stories," said Cooper in a statement. "With this new program I hope to relay important information and relate to people and the audience in a completely different way."

At the same time, Cooper has extended his contract with CNN.

Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide announced Cooper's contract extension Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Walton noted in a statement that Cooper will be "with us for years to come." 

The news comes as former HLN chief Ken Jautz moves into the top executive spot at CNN and while the network is re-inventing the majority of its primetime line-up, an overhaul necessitated by foundering ratings. Indeed, Cooper's 10 p.m. program finished the just completed third quarter down more than 40% year-to-year among total viewers and adults 25-54.

While silver-haired Cooper has made his name as a newsman, he built his fame on outwardly emotional response to many of the news stories he's covered, particularly when Hurricane Katrina caused wide destruction in the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Although Warner Bros. is known for taking a slow and steady approach when it comes to selling shows, the company will ask for cash license fees in a TV station market that has somewhat recovered since the downturn of 2008, and that will have more money to spend due to an influx of retransmission consent fees, political advertising and the coming end of CBS Television Distribution's very expensive Oprah.

Most TV stations have already made programming decisions with regard to how to fill the time slots that will be vacated by Oprah after this season, the show's 25th, comes to a close. But syndicators also expect other time slots to become available, although stations aren't expected to make any decisions about what shows will stay and what will go until after the November ratings results come out, at the earliest.

Distributors are keeping a close eye on the NBC owned stations, which operate in top markets. The group this fall launched three new shows - Sony's Nate Berkus, NBCU's off-Bravo Real Housewives and the slow rollout Access Hollywood Live. Thus far, none of the three are turning in huge ratings, and syndicators are once again circling that station group.

Moreover, if all goes as expected, the NBC station group will soon be taken over by Comcast, which is expected to run them much differently (read: spend money) than GE did.

Other station groups have opportunities as well - including Fox and ABC - especially as they try out things such as news-focused local programming or rely on double runs.

"This is one of those opportunities like in baseball or basketball - when a franchise player becomes available, you find the money," says one executive close to the deal. "Stations make room for shows that will get ratings."

"In this age where it's hard to find and hard to market talent, you need to find someone who has enormous ubiquity. Anderson Cooper has great likeability and a skill set that has been honed over the years."

Additional reporting by Marisa Guthrie