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Hanging with Mr. Cooper

EW spends some quality time with the news anchor as he gets ready to add a daytime talk show to his already crowded schedule. It was a total giggle

Here are a few things you learn after spending some time with Anderson Cooper: Truman Capote, a regular houseguest of Cooper's parents, was mean and had long, curly toenails. The granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, another family friend, is a trapeze artist.

The Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes has been known to drunk-dial him. He has a signature dance move that involves placing one hand on the small of his back (according to close friend Kelly Ripa). As a child, he was on the game show To Tell the Truth and managed to get Nipsey Russell to vote for him. And he's obsessed with reality TV, like the deliciously awful Toddlers & Tiaras. (The guy did host The Mole, after all.)

The most surprising thing you learn when hanging out with Anderson Cooper is that Anderson Cooper is a whole lotta fun. While he's best known for his steely-eyed news coverage of tragedies like Hurricane Katrina and his CNN series Anderson Cooper 360°, in person the 44-year-old is a charismatic, easy-to-talk-to charmer who has quite a silly streak — something the world recently glimpsed when a video of him giggling over potty puns went viral. (Thank you, Gérard Depardieu.) And it's exactly this side of Cooper that he's set to unleash come Sept. 12 with the premiere of his new daytime talk show, Anderson. (In fact, the topic of one of his test shows was...Toddlers & Tiaras!) ''There are sides to him that are coming out now that are spontaneous and fun and charming and even flirty,'' says Anderson executive producer Lisa Morin. Adds Cooper's friend (and executive VP of programming at Bravo) Andy Cohen, ''He's this weird combination of a little shy and even awkward sometimes, and completely disarming and friendly and approachable and fun. He's this fantastic mix of hard news and a total devotion to pop culture.''

For Cooper, this new stage is about showing his versatility — he plans to stay with CNN and 360° — while also finding another way to connect with people, something he's chased throughout his career. ''There is this connection you can have with viewers that really resonates with their lives,'' says Cooper. ''As much as there is sort of an impulse to go to some far-flung region, there's also this other influence to have that connection. I've been [traveling] for 20 years. I'm kind of excited to try the other part.''

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