“Sit up. Fix your hair. Suck it in,” comedienne Dena Blizzard, better known as One Funny Mother, suggests to the studio audience as the producers count down the cameras.
And 3, 2, 1…and we’re rolling. As the audience rises from its seats with a round of applause, Anderson Cooper and his co-host of the day, Stacy London, stride onto the Anderson Live set, settle in to their posts, and dive right into the episode’s First 15. Talk hops from the hot dog, beer and peanuts-flavored Ballpark Gum, to the dapperly-dressed Menswear Dog, to a love note between two smitten 8th grade students, and to Unicorn Poop cookies.
Following the fun fluff, it’s on to Anderson Live Alert about revenge porn, a growing phenomenon that sees scorned exes post sexually-explicit photos of their former girlfriends or wives on websites. After hearing from two victims and their lawyer, Anderson brings in a legal expert as he speaks over the phone to the webmaster — who shields his identity with an alias and distorted voice — who operates the porn site.
The show wraps up on a lighter note, with the always-affable Today co-host Hoda Kotb dishing on her new book, 10 Years Later, which chronicles how adversity transformed the lives of six inspiring individuals, and the highlights of her career — winning an Emmy, a Murrow and of course, getting Anderson drunk.
But what shakes down on the set of Anderson Live when the cameras aren’t rolling?
Before, during and after taping each episode, there’s plenty of smiles, laughter and memory-making shared among the team.
As Anderson prepares for show in his private quarters (where spiffy suits seem to line the walls), the show’s guests are graciously escorted into their dedicated dressing room at CBS Studios, where some snacks, water, a television and a release form await them. Before long, an Anderson Live team member leads each to the land of the glam squad, where Kristi whips hair into masterpieces and Travis works his makeup magic.
All along, producers bounce around, briefing the Blogger of the Day and prepping guests for their specific segments. Before descending a few floors to the set, the audio team straps a mic pack to the waistbands of all on-air participants, asking for a speedy sound check before giving them the green light.Under the bright spotlights of the studio, a center-stage perch awaits Anderson, his co-host of the day and guests, as executive producer Terence Noonan and his trust pet pooch, Nico, settle into the side-stage setup, which broadcasts a steady stream of Anderson Live-related tweets on a display board. The studio audience is already settled into the cushioned seats, chuckling at the wisecracks of Dena Blizzard, the comedienne charged with warming up the crowd each taping.
Even after the episode gets under way, commercial breaks provide a breather: producers pop on and off to provide Anderson with notes and props; the hair-and-makeup team dash in to tend to touch-ups on both the hosts and guests; and Dena calls for impromptu dance-offs among the studio audience.
After it’s all a wrap, Anderson scurries over to his in-studio photo booth, where he snaps candid shots with his guests, audience members and the Blogger of the Day before disappearing down the halls. As the staff swiftly tidies up the set, guests are ushered back up to the dressing rooms to pick up their personal belongings. Then it’s ta-ta (for now), as each is chaperoned to an awaiting car service just outside of CBS studios.
To see the experience from beginning to end, scan through the gallery, above.