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Teen hurt preparing for Anderson Cooper talk show

By David Bauder
AP Television Writer / October 4, 2011

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NEW YORK—Anderson Cooper's new daytime talk show is dealing with the fallout of a skateboarding accident that injured a teenager about to appear in an episode on the science of the teenage brain.

The news blog Gawker.com reported the teen hit his head while trying to film himself doing stunts on a skateboard and was in a coma.

Cooper's month-old syndicated talk show, "Anderson," confirmed Monday that it had asked its guest for video footage but wouldn't comment on what he had been asked to film. The show didn't provide the teen with the camera and learned of the injury on the morning he and his parents were to travel to New York for taping of the episode, according to a statement provided by spokeswoman Laura Mandel, who wouldn't answer questions about the accident.

Cooper said he was "very saddened" to hear about the accident and wanted to express his "deepest concerns for the teenager who was injured."

"I take this situation seriously," Cooper said, "and my thoughts and prayers for his health, well-being and recovery are with him and his family."

The segment was triggered by an article in the October issue of National Geographic 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.

"Anderson" was launched last month into a competitive marketplace of talk shows jockeying for viewers following the May exit of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" after 25 years. After three weeks, the "Anderson" show's ratings were half that of programs hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and Dr. Phil McGraw, while beating Nate Berkus and Wendy Williams, the Nielsen ratings company said.

The Cooper show is having trouble reaching an audience in some major markets but has been doing fairly well in smaller ones, said Bill Carroll, an expert in the syndication market for Katz Media.

It's not the first time TV shows have been involved in tragic incidents. The MTV reality pranks show "Jackass" 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.