Watch: Before he was on CNN, Anderson Cooper Hosted Early 00s Reality Show 'The Mole,' Now on Netflix

Monday July 5, 2021
Originally published on June 29, 2021

Anderson Cooper for "The Mole."
Anderson Cooper for "The Mole."  (Source:Courtesy of ABC)

Most know Anderson Cooper from his long-running CNN program "Anderson Cooper 360" and being besties with Andy Cohen. But before he anchored his own show, Cooper worked for ABC News as a correspondent in the 90s but switched gears in 2000, hosting the reality show "The Mole," which has recently been added to Netflix.

Cooper hosted the first two seasons of the globe-hopping show, which took place in the U.S., France, Spain, Monaco, Italy and Switzerland. "The Mole" features a number of ordinary contestants but one of them is The Mole — a double agent secretly working for producers in order to sabotage the group's efforts of winning challenges that earn money. That money goes into a pot where the winner, the person who can correctly guess The Mole's identity at the end of the show, will take home the prize. Players are eliminated one-by-one after taking a test each episode about who they think is The Mole; the person with the lowest score goes home.

Or, you can watch Cooper explain the show's set up.

Cooper commented on his decision to leave news for reality TV in 2006, saying at the time one of the reasons for the change was the grueling hours. "I was really tired and wanted a change. I wanted to clear my head and get out of news a bit and I was really interested in reality TV." But he soon returned to news, leaving "The Mole" to join CNN in 2001.

"Two seasons was enough, and 9/11 happened, and I thought I needed to be getting back to news," he added.

In 2015, Cooper talked about the show in an interview with Reality Blurred, calling it a confusing show that "was a relatively complex idea," he said, adding, "I enjoyed it; I'm glad I did it. It was not something I would do again."

"It's just intense in [a] way that's - when you're with people that are playing a game for 30 days, after a while, you want to have one meal when they're not scheming against each other and trying to figure out if I know who The Mole is," he went on to say. "And no matter how many times I said, 'I don't know who the mole is, so it doesn't matter who I'm looking at more, you can't read anything into it.' Because I didn't know who the mole was.

"But it was fun," Cooper added. "It was really in the early days of reality TV, and at the time, I was really interested in seeing how reality TV is produced and how it's edited, and so, to be involved in all aspects of the production, I found it really eye opening. It was really interesting."

Then in 2018, Cooper poked fun at his "Mole" hosting gig when talking to Cohen about the evolution of reality TV. Again, Cooper said the show was too confusing.

"Noble try, too confusing," Cohen said. "I tried but it was too confusing...if you're the host of 'The Mole' and you don't understand it, then that's problematic."

After Cooper left, "The Mole" still continued with Seasons 3 and 4, which were celebrity editions and hosted by former football player Ahmad Rashād. Stars Kathy Griffin, Stephen Baldwin, Dennis Rodman, Corbin Bernsen, Tracey Gold and more competed on the show. "The Mole" then returned after a four year hiatus for its fifth and final season but the contestants this time were everyday people.

The first two seasons of "The Mole" are currently streaming. Check out the intro for the show's first season below.