Anderson Cooper is definitely interested in being Kelly Ripa's co-host on Live!, but both ABC and CNN are "hesitant," sources tell ET.
Cooper has made it clear to executives that he would like to do both Live! and his nightly CNN show, Anderson Cooper 360, if offered the chance, our sources say. The 48-year-old CNN anchor was eyed as a frontrunner to replace Michael Strahan on the longrunning morning show almost immediately after Strahan first announced his exit in April.
However, a deal is complicated given this year's presidential elections, and Cooper's big role in covering politics for CNN.
CNN will be "all in" for the 2016 election and doesn't want its main talent to have its loyalties split, sources tell ET, though the network's executives aren't ruling out Cooper's wishes.
Cooper also needs to win over the ABC bosses, who aren't totally sold on the news anchor just yet, according to our sources. While producers recognize Ripa and Cooper's "natural chemistry," there is concern over his failed daytime talk show, Anderson, which was canceled after two seasons in 2013.
"There are others they have their eye on," one source says.
However, one person we do know who isn't interested is former View co-host Sherri Shepherd. Although a report claimed ABC is eyeing Shepherd for the high-profile gig, a source close to the 49-year-old comedian tells ET this is "not true at all."
"Sherri has maintained all along that she is pulling for T.J. Holmes from Good Morning America to get the gig," the source says. "She thinks he's fantastic."
Cooper guest co-hosted with Ripa for the first time since Strahan's exit on Wednesday, when the two pals showed their comfortable chemistry. They even adorably attempted to samba together prior to interviewing "Rhythm is Gonna Get You" singer Gloria Estefan.
"Look, I'm very happy at CNN," Cooper answered cautiously when a caller brought up the reports. "It would be a dream to work with Kelly, but nobody's offering anything."
And it looks like even other potential Live! co-hosts are aware of Cooper's frontrunner status. Last month, a source exclusively told ET that ABC was in talks with Rob Lowe for the gig, but Lowe told us he didn't want to compete against the popular CNN anchor when we recently caught up with the 52-year-old actor on the set of his upcoming film, How to Be a Latin Lover.
"Listen, man, I don't want to go up against Anderson Cooper," Lowe joked. "I don't know if I'm going to go back as an actual guest host [on Live!] yet. ... You never know! You never know."
Still, the former Grinder star didn't completely rule the job out.
"I hosted it with Kelly and had the time of my life," he commented on his previous Live! co-hosting experiences. "I love her ... I love being able to talk to an audience every morning like that and just being fun, counter-punching, being silly, and talking about cool stuff."