Trained as a lawyer, Cooper became a well-known television personality in his native Canada when he hosted "Ombudsman," a news magazine show resembling American TV's "60 Minutes. " He later expanded his range of interest and influence when he became chairman of his own production company, Robert Cooper Entertainment, and later an executive at Home Box Office, eventually holding the office of president. Cooper had pushed the cable network toward the production of provocative, large-scale miniseries and movies, such as "The Josephine Baker Story" (1991) and "And the Band Played On" (1993). In July 1996, he was named to succeed Marc Platt as head of TriStar Pictures but his tenure there was relatively brief. Cooper resigned in May 1997 to accept the position of head of production at DreamWorks SKG.