The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn?t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud. – Anderson Cooper
ANDERSON COOPER is making headlines today for an email reply to Andrew Sullivan, after the recent Entertainment Weekly “coming out” issue. This isn’t exactly news, with Michael Musto screaming for years about it, but now it’s official.
The CNN anchor and international journalist seemed to openly signal as much two Thursdays ago on Kathy Griffin’s BRAVO show “Kathy,” which has gone from a funky, boutique TV “D-list” vibe to absolutely fascinating in one season.
So, let me digress for a moment.
“Kathy” is a talk show like no other anywhere on cable. It got even more captivating once Griffin started having top flight entertainment guests and femmes on, which began with comediennes Whitney Cummings, star of NBC’s “Whitney,” and Chelsea Handler, who made Time magazine’s “Top 100″ in 2012 and is the star of “Chelsea Lately” on E!. Last week was Jane Fonda and Sharon Osbourne, with Lisa Ling and when the conversation turned to sex it got raunchy, with Fonda’s reaction priceless.
WARNING: The video below is explicit dialogue about sex.
Fonda couldn’t believe the topic of conversation could possibly be aired on TV, which Griffin shared after a commercial break.
The low brow, low key start of “Kathy” has morphed into a delicious romp and is now one of my favorite guilty pleasures. It’s driven through the ease and spectacular talk show talent of Griffin, whose dialogue is laced with foul-mouthed, yet hilariously delivered, sentences that include some of the most explicit topics on cable, while Griffin sits perfectly coiffed and made up, as if she were ready for the runway. Her theme song is her pitch: “I know what’s on your mind, but if you’re inclined not to say it, well don’t you worry, cause I’ll say it. I’ll say it for you.” Written by Adam Schlesinger, who wrote “That Thing You Do,” it’s signature Griffin, who also sings it.
Cooper and Griffin are pals, so when he appeared on the show it was not only huge for “Kathy,” but great for him, as when he’s casual he’s at his best. Cooper even brought out one of his favorite lines about his mom Gloria Vanderbilt writing about a boyfriend who was the “Nijinsky of cunnilingus.” Sitting on the couch with Griffin’s “civilians,” as she calls one of her segments, “Michele,” billed as a comedienne and producer of the show, teased, “…We really bonded in the makeup room, when I was too afraid to look at him and I’m pretty sure we’re dating.” Cooper’s reply, but also his demeanor, seemed ripe with innuendo at the time to me. “Hate to break it to you, not gonna happen,” was Cooper’s reply, delivered with a dead pan take.
Anderson Cooper’s decision to email Sullivan and allow his comments to be posted is the latest in the opening of America to the facts of life, the celebrity edition. Even “Days of Our Lives” has a gay character storyline, which I wrote about here, complete with the template on how to and not to react to your son or family member coming out.
Television is a personal medium, as Ann Curry recently discovered, to her “Today” demise, with talk shows also requiring some showmanship, as Cooper proves with his signature giggle and his daytime talk show. If you can’t relate to people in a way that reveals who you are on some level other than face, there’s no relationship being set up, so less investment by the viewer. People watch Cooper and other hosts in the comfort of their living rooms; as it turns to late night, it’s even more casual, shifting to bedrooms, nighttime activities and an added aura of intimacy, even if it’s fake and in the eye of the beholder of the programming being viewed.
You never know, but something as simple as openly sharing an intimate detail, like Cooper has finally done, can change people’s views, their emotions about him. It can also make the connection to the host of the program you’re watching feel closer, whether it is or not. It’s one of those intangible elements of TV that’s hard to quantify, but over time can manifest in more loyal viewers, with trust rising, because people sense more authenticity to the host they’re spending time with regularly.
As for timing, it couldn’t be better for CNN, a network that could use the publicity, no matter how it comes, even if it’s a momentary distraction.
There’s something about Anderson Cooper officially coming out that fits with America coming out, too.