BOB GARFIELD: Over the past 20 years, all manner of celebrities have been introducing eponymous perfumes - actresses, pop singers, athletes - even at least one business tycoon.
But till now, one category of fame not so honored is TV news anchors. But could that sorry situation change? Gossip websites have reported that CNN's Anderson Cooper has been approached by designer Tom Ford to have his own brand of cologne that supposedly would be named Coop.
Ford's organization told us that the rumors are untrue, but we still wanted to run the idea past Chandler Burr, perfume critic for The New York Times, who joins me now. Chandler, welcome back to the show. CHANDLER BURR: Thank you very much. BOB GARFIELD: Okay. We've seen celebrity scents before. We've seen Elizabeth Taylor and Beyonce and Celine Dion and Michael Jordan and Donald Trump. CHANDLER BURR: Yes. BOB GARFIELD: Now, I don't know if you know what Anderson himself smells like, but what do you suppose journalism smells like? CHANDLER BURR: I mean, journalism would smell sort of like the ink to me. But I think that if I were going to create a perfume for Anderson Cooper, I've got to say I think I would make it an aldehydic. Now, aldehydes are the molecules that are in, actually, Chanel Number 5 and a lot of other perfumes, and they're synthetic molecules that give you a sort of a beautiful, clean, contemporary yet classic exterior - sort of seamless, like a coat of armor, almost as if hiding something.
They're certainly commercial. They would say, buy my scent. And they're professional, so they're saying, you can count on my honesty. And yet they're strangely opaque, sort of saying, well, you can't count on my complete honesty, but we won't get into that. BOB GARFIELD: [LAUGHS] Okay. No, we certainly will not. When a celebrity of any kind has a scent made in their image, I guess, what decisions are made by perfumers to try to find the personality of the individual? CHANDLER BURR: Well, you know, it's very interesting. I just spent a year with Sarah Jessica Parker behind the scenes. She's actually one of the stories about perfume creation in my next book, and I have to say that the process is a fascinating combination of almost putting her on the couch. She had meeting after meeting with them.
She talked about what she liked, her memories, her thoughts, the images. And they literally took those and they mated them with scents, accords, raw materials, and that's how you come out with a perfume. BOB GARFIELD: Now, getting back [LAUGHS] to Anderson Cooper, I have to agree that he doesn't exactly call to mind “ink-stained wretch.” CHANDLER BURR: No. BOB GARFIELD: But he does project a certain personality, but so do other journalists as well. You know, let's just say the rumor were true and he signed on, can you imagine who would be signing on later and what their fragrances would smell like? CHANDLER BURR: Well, I think Wolf Blitzer - you've got to have a Wolf Blitzer cologne, right? And you do a vetiver, which is an organic material that's sort of classically masculine, just sort of slightly rough, slightly dirty but, you know, in sort of a he-man, not-too-dirty way, like I'm a guy but I'm wearing pancake makeup in an air-conditioned set. That's, that’s what you do.
And now Keith Olbermann, I think, would be very interesting. You could do a combination of a bitter orange petitgrain, which gives you sort of a claws — I'm-not-to be-screwed-with-type — raw powerful scent, and then you do a sort of a soothing peppermint distillation to make it all sort of smooth and go down nicely, you know. BOB GARFIELD: Oh, I couldn't agree more. Now, you mentioned Keith Olbermann. What about his arch-nemesis Bill O'Reilly? What does he smell like? CHANDLER BURR: Ah, Bill O'Reilly. Why don't we do a purely synthetic scent for Bill O'Reilly? No naturals whatsoever. And why don't we just base the whole thing on a synthetic civet? That would be great. [BOB LAUGHING] Civet is a 19th century material taken from - it's sort of a cream from the anal gland of a species of cat. [BOB LAUGHS]
We could do Chris Matthews. Now, that would be interesting. I would base that on a tuberose, which is the loudest, most aggressive, most self-satisfied flower that you can possibly find in the perfumer's palette. It just bursts out of the bottle and basically starts yelling at you! And I would cut it with a cis-3-hexanol, which is a synthetic that smells sort of half like freshly-cut grass and half like banana. BOB GARFIELD: Right you are. Well [LAUGHS], Chandler, this has been — truly enlightening. I appreciate, [LAUGHS] once again, your joining us. CHANDLER BURR: My pleasure. BOB GARFIELD: Chandler Burr is the perfume critic for The New York Times. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] WOMAN: The sounds of your life captivate you. DANIEL SCHORR: For the regime that was denounced by President Bush to be able to summon the superpower to the conference table is clearly a feather in the cap of the Tehran government. But surely there must be something more involved in this unusual flirtation. WOMAN: Daniel! DANIEL SCHORR: Hear me. WOMAN: Daniel! DANIEL SCHORR: Smell me. WOMAN: Daniel. WOMAN ANNOUNCER: Shore. An incisive fragrance from news analyst Daniel Schorr, at fine retailers everywhere. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] BOB GARFIELD: That's it for this week's show. On the Media was produced by Megan Ryan, Jamie York, Mike Vuolo, Mark Phillips and Nazanin Rafsanjani, and edited - by Brooke. Dylan Keefe is our technical director and Jennifer Munson and Rob Christensen our engineers. We had help from Andrya Ambro and Madeleine Elish. Our webmaster is Amy Pearl. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Katya Rogers is our senior producer and John Keefe our executive producer. Bassist/composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. You can find free transcripts, MP3 downloads and our podcast at onthemedia.org, and email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is On the Media from WNYC. I'm Brooke Gladstone. BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] WOMAN: [WHISPERING] Ah! [FRENCH] DANIEL SCHORR: It's the sound and smell of - news. [MUSIC OUT]