Daniel Cook has a new fan: Oprah Winfrey.
The cherubic host of This is Daniel Cook, I dare you! and the upcoming Dino Dan appeared on Winfrey’s popular talk show yesterday as a “correspondent.”
The 9-year-old was recently hired to co-host the “Amazing Kids” episode, taped last Tuesday in Chicago. Daniel also covered the Heart Truth’s Red Dress Fashion Show collection during New York Fashion Week, where he …
What’s that, Daniel? Okay. We’ll get to this TV stuff in a minute. Let’s begin with a more urgent matter: dinosaurs.
“I’m not really sure of the part of dinosaurs that I like,” Daniel tells me yesterday, before going to school. “I just really like them. They’re big.”
While in Chicago, Daniel received a special tour at the Field Museum, where his inquisitive eyes feasted upon the fossilized remains of Sue.
Let him explain.
“Sue was the largest T-Rex that they’ve ever found.”
Did we mention that dinosaurs were big and that some were meat eaters?
Okay, Daniel, I promise to brush up on all things Jurassic. But what about the most feared and influential carnivore in our present era?
Most of us have never seen the Oprahsaurus in real life. What was Ms. Winfrey like?
“She is very, very nice,” says Daniel. “If you’re nervous, she will try to help you. She probably has to do that a lot. She’s just really nice.”
Daniel also learned why Winfrey prefers to not meet her guests before a taping: “She doesn’t like to meet people before the audience does.”
During yesterday’s show on CBS and CTV, Daniel was shown backstage, interacting with Oprah via stage-mounted monitors and introducing some of the other Amazing Kids.
“I was talking to some of them,” Daniel recalls. “I got to meet a juggling team. And an opera singer. A memory champion. And, yeah.”
In New York, Daniel interviewed many celebrities, including Kim Cattrall (she asked if he had plans for Valentine’s Day), Marlee Matlin, Paula Zahn, Mary Hart (she offered him a job) and Billy Jean King – “We were the only people that were wearing tennis shoes.”
So what did you ask these glittering luminaries?
“Well, on the red carpet I was asking them if they were nervous, and why they were here. For the, `Are you nervous?’ everybody’s answer was, `Yes.'”
Well, were you nervous?
“No, not really.”
Before getting swept up into this whirlwind, you see, Daniel was not entirely familiar with The Oprah Winfrey Show. In fact, he assumed he was going somewhere to sing, having initially misheard “Oprah” as “opera.”
Mind you, by the time the young TV prince landed on the couch belonging to the Queen of Daytime TV, the escalating hype proved somewhat unnerving.
“It was actually a little surprising to see how nervous Daniel was when he finally sat down with Oprah,” says mom Deborah Cook, who was in the Chicago studio.
“It was really sweet for us because, you know, he’s still just a regular kid. He’s not the big celebrity.”
The deal with Harpo happened within the past three weeks. Nobody seems to know what, if anything, will come from this cross-border adventure.
“I suspect the fallout will be kind of interesting,” says Cook. “But if we really had our druthers, it would be nice to have a little bit of excitement and then go back to our normal life.”
“Daniel is already well known to the Canadian audiences, but his appearance on (Oprah) will introduce him to million of viewers that don’t necessarily watch his show, especially in the U.S.A., where his career is just beginning,” adds his manager Yanick Landry.
Near the end of yesterday’s show, Oprah said she heard Daniel attends school every day. Yes, he said. Then he paused and screwed up his face into a familiar expression.
“Well, not this day,” Daniel quipped, triggering a raucous laugh.
“Daniel is a phenomenal talent because in every situation he’s himself, whether he’s making ice cream, tracking down dinosaurs or being interviewed on Oprah,” says J.J. Johnson, the creator of This is Daniel Cook.
“We couldn’t possibly be prouder of him.”
This is Daniel Cook is no longer in production. But the second season of I dare you! begins shooting this spring. Meanwhile, Dino Dan, which Daniel co-created with Johnson of Sinking Ship, begins production in the summer.
I ask Daniel for his take on the Big Apple and the Windy City.
“The only thing you can say about New York is you can always get a taxi. But the one thing you can say about Chicago is, when it’s football night, never try to get a taxi.”
Got it. And, yeah.