Entertainment » Celebrities

New Anderson Cooper Show’s teen tragedy

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Monday Oct 3, 2011

Anderson Cooper's new daytime television talk show was the subject of a distressing news item on Gawker on Monday, and it wasn't the kind of attention the Silver Fox wants.

"It's just three weeks into Anderson Cooper's new daytime adventure, and the show has already devolved into the sort of unscrupulous talk-show tactics at which Cooper's prime-time newsman personality would turn up his nose: A teenager is in a coma after one of Anderson's producers encouraged him to record his reckless behavior for a show on the "teenage mind.""

The story went on to say that the teen in the coma was booked to appear on a show about how the adolescent mind works. One of the show's producers "encouraged [the] kid to go out and 'film the crazy stuff you do.'" The teen did, filming himself skateboarding. Upon falling he sustained a severe head injury.

"We are told he is comatose," the Gawker report continued, "and that Cooper is 'distraught.' The show never aired."

In a statement, a rep for Anderson confirmed the injury while sidestepping the issue of whether the show bears responsibility for encouraging the kid to act out for the camera:

"Our producers were working with a teen and his parents on a show about the science of the Teenage Brain, based on a National Geographic story. As part of our routine process, we ask guests for video footage and photos. We did not provide the family with a camera. On the morning that they were supposed to travel to NYC, we learned that the teen had been injured. We are very concerned about him, and are thinking of him and his family at this time."

Cooper later responded to an email inquiry by Gawker with the following:

"I was very saddened to hear the news of this accident, and want to express my deepest concerns for the teenager who was injured. I take this situation seriously, and my thoughts and prayers for his health, well-being and recovery are with him and his family."

The National Geographic special, according to the Associated Press’s television reporter David Bauder, is in the October issue of the magazine "detailing the science behind brain development and how young people can often engage in maddening, self-destructive behavior, the show said.

"The article, by David Dobbs, opens with an anecdote of Dobbs’ 17-year-old son being caught by police driving 113 mph on a highway. Cooper’s show initially sought to book Dobbs but later decided not to, and the magazine had nothing to do with the segment, National Geographic spokeswoman Beth Foster said."
Bauder also reported that Cooper’s new show is " having trouble reaching an audience in some major markets but has been doing fairly well in smaller ones," a conclusion reached by Bill Carroll, an expert in the syndication market for Katz Media whom Bauder interviewed.
Bauder concluded with a little talk show history:

"It’s not the first time TV shows have been involved in tragic incidents. The MTV reality pranks show ’Jackas’" had a handful of incidents of young people hurt trying to copy stunts staged on it. A woman suspected in the disappearance of her 2-year-old son committed suicide in 2006 the day that a pre-taped interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace was to appear."

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.


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