Variety reports that Anderson Cooper, CNN newsman-anchor and also host of both series of "The Mole", has been forced to end his ties with the reality TV series under pressure from his new bosses at CNN. According to Variety, Cooper, arguably one of the two best hosts in reality TV along with Survivor's Jeff Probst, was told that, if he chose to return to "The Mole" 3 and 4, his continuing high-profile role on CNN might be jeopardized. At the time Cooper left ABC News to join CNN, "The Mole" seemed to be dead, but the show's surprisingly-successful revival over the summer brought the conflict back to life.

CNN's reluctance to permit Cooper to take the leave time necessary for filming may relate to its continuing ratings slide. Since hiring morning anchorwoman Paula Zahn away from its "upstart rival" Fox News, CNN has seen Fox News blow past it in the ratings, and apparently CNN (a unit of AOL Time Warner) wasn't willing to allow one of its few bright spots -- Cooper -- help another struggling competitor (Disney, which airs "The Mole" on ABC).

Variety also reports that three "celebrities" have been confirmed for the upcoming "Mole 3: Celebrity Mole." Actor Stephen Baldwin (brother of radical-leftist actor Alec), Victoria's Secret model Frederique and reality TV fan Kathy Griffin (who once hosted an MTV talk show devoted to reality TV) plan to take part in the game, which will be filmed in Hawaii.

Stone Stanley Productions, the company behind "The Mole," has not floated any names of potential Anderson replacements yet. Here's hoping they find someone who can bring the same mix of seriousness and sarcasm to the future series. Adios, Anderson, we'll miss you.