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August 9th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Behind the scenes: Letters to President Obama

Tom Foreman has written nearly 1,300 letters to President Obama on AC360.com. He has done them every day since the January 2009 presidential inauguration— weekends and holidays, too.

“I thought, well, when he gets inaugurated, I’ll write 10 days of letters to him saying what I think,” Tom said. But he didn’t stop at 10, 100 or even 1,000 letters. A short-term project has seemingly turned into a hobby for the veteran journalist. Tom said he’s never received a response from the White House but that’s never discouraged him from writing about a myriad of topics.

Some letters explore hot-button political issues and others discuss subjects as light-hearted as Tom's annual family Mardi Gras celebration. Tom frequently invites the President to contact him in return but that hasn’t happened.

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June 4th, 2012
10:09 PM ET

Behind the scenes: Anderson's birthday surprise

When your boss is Anderson Cooper, what do you give him for his 45th birthday? Can you surprise a man who’s innately observant and passionate about finding the truth around him? Yes. If you’re sneaky and determined, then yes you can.

360 staffers Ben Finley and Devna Shukla worked with reality TV stars Ernie Brown, aka Turtleman, and Mauro Castano from “Cake Boss” to deliver a memorable birthday party live on-air.

There were a few close calls when the surprise was almost spoiled, but thanks to some quick thinking, fast door slams, and the speed (and grace) at which Ben can wheel an event cake, the plans were kept hush hush.

I’m taking you behind the scenes so you can get a taste of what happened before and after the birthday ambush. This is a web exclusive, everyone.

You may not get a sense for the distinctive smell of our reptilian guests, but you’ll see how they try to bite the hand that holds them (initials A.C.). Special thanks to Turtleman for bringing the two snapping turtles, one weighing in at 50 lbs., and for teaching us that his “yiyiyi” call is more than just a gimmick – it makes his “soul feel better.”

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Filed under: AC360° Staff • AC361° • Anderson Cooper
Anderson’s birthday surprise
Anderson Cooper poses with Mauro Castano from "Cake Boss," and Ernie Brown from "Call of the Wildman."
June 1st, 2012
11:04 PM ET

Anderson’s birthday surprise

It’s tough for our staff to surprise Anderson for his birthday. First, he knows it’s coming. And, he’s traveled the world, met the most fascinating people and lives a pretty exciting life.

We had to beat last year’s dog and pony show. One idea jumped out at us: Turtleman. And Cake Boss. Together. Check out a few behind-the-scenes pictures and come back to the blog for more on Monday!

See what happened during the show when Ernie and Mauro delivered their birthday gifts. After you watch, wish Anderson a Happy Birthday on twitter @AndersonCooper!


Filed under: AC360° Staff • AC361° • Anderson Cooper • Behind The Scenes
April 23rd, 2012
05:06 PM ET

AC360 interns learn the CNN lingo

Anderson Cooper 360° interns Taylor Cannon and Terek Pierce take you behind the scenes for a CNN vocab lesson.


Filed under: AC360° Staff • AC361°
April 4th, 2012
10:32 PM ET

AC361: The making of AC360's Kids on Race study

Editor's note: Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Anderson Cooper and AC360° producers created a study exploring kids' views on race, and tune in tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

It had been a while since our production team hung out in elementary or middle schools, but while some things change, others remain the same. Some kids were still cliquey, bells still rang when it was time to change classes and students still walked in single file lines. But students today seem to be more affected by the constantly changing world around them, in a way many from my generation weren't. There was talk of bullying, Martin Luther King and equality - and those comments came from both 6-year-olds and 13-year-olds. From the mouths of babes!

Spending time with young people is always invigorating. However, for our team, working 12 straight hours, starting at 4 and 5 am, left us depleted by the end of some days. Also, we were on an early morning school schedule which is something members of our late-working AC360 staff aren't used to normally.

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Monday on AC360: Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture
March 30th, 2012
09:10 PM ET

Monday on AC360: Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture

In this behind-the-scenes preview, Anderson Cooper describes "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture," the groundbreaking year-long investigative study that will air the week of April 2 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET. Race relations is one of the most explosive issues in America and for many, it’s one of the most taboo to talk about, especially with children. For this special report, AC360° contracted a renowned child psychologist to help us understand how race influences a child’s world.

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Filed under: AC361° • Kids on Race • Race in America
Behind the scenes: A small party for 100,000
March 30th, 2012
03:06 PM ET

Behind the scenes: A small party for 100,000

This week @AC360 passed 100,000 followers on Twitter! We thought long and hard in a series of intense brainstorming sessions about how to best mark the milestone. The finest champagne (drunk producers are hilarious, but ineffective), a hot air balloon ride (too many of us to comfortably fit in one basket), a pet bird for the show (no volunteers to clean the cage), a choreographed flash mob (varying skills of coordination in this group), an extra vacation day for all (bosses vetoed), a permanent balloon arch in the newsroom (gets old after a while), matching Twitter bird tattoos (requires needles), a break-out Parkour session (too many expensive cameras nearby), diamond pendants (budget restrictions).

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Filed under: AC361°
March 27th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Anderson Cooper explains Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture

In this behind-the-scenes preview, Anderson Cooper describes "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture," the groundbreaking year-long investigative study that will air the week of April 2 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET. Race relations is one of the most explosive issues in America and for many, it’s one of the most taboo to talk about, especially with children. For this special report, AC360° contracted a renowned child psychologist to help us understand how race influences a child’s world.

The CNN commissioned pilot study builds on the original Doll Test’s historic research done in the 1940s that examined how African -American children interpret race, discrimination and stigma. Teaming up with child psychologist Dr. Melanie Killen, the report scientifically explored how kids view interracial contact in their daily lives. The children, ages six and thirteen, were shown images that were designed to be ambiguous to children. “What is happening in this picture” was the starting point for interviews conducted with the group of 145 African-American and Caucasian children in six schools across three states. The report explored how children’s interpretations of the images changed when the races of the characters were switched.

This series will tackle controversial issues and answer some difficult questions. Is race a factor in how children view conflicts and choose friends? Do children see race or are they, as many parents believe, socially colorblind? How, when and why do they form their opinions on race? Can those opinions change over time or at a certain age, are kids “hard-wired” about race? And does the racial make-up of their school and environment affect their opinions on race? Anderson along with CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien will share with the viewers the children’s answers and the conclusions our researcher drew from their responses.

Tweet your thoughts about the upcoming @AC360 series using hashtag #KidsOnRace. Find out more about the project from the CNN Press Room and be sure to watch starting Monday, April 2 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on CNN.


Filed under: AC361° • Kids on Race • Race in America
March 6th, 2012
11:01 PM ET

Super Tuesday behind-the-scenes photos

Anderson Cooper was joined by CNN's political team for special coverage of the Republican presidential contests on Super Tuesday 2012. Click each thumbnail to view the behind-the-scenes pictures taken on the set in Atlanta.


Filed under: 2012 Election • AC361° • Anderson Cooper
February 3rd, 2012
12:02 AM ET

Video: AC361: Surprise in the newsroom

For our executive producer's birthday, we surprised him with memories of his college rock days, a token of his favorite band, cake, and lunch from a highfalutin eatery. Go behind the scenes as the AC360° staff redecorates in honor of our fearless leader, Charlie Moore.

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Filed under: AC360° Staff • AC361°
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