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Andy Cohen on Jersey Housewives, 'Top Chef,' and Being the Face of Bravo

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 18th 2010 2:02PM
Andy Cohen of BravoWhen NBC Universal had their all-star party at the January press tour, I got a chance to talk to Andy Cohen of Bravo. Who's Andy Cohen? Many of you who follow Bravo's reality shows may know him as "the reunion guy," who hosts all the reunion shows at the end of each season. Others may know him from the talk show 'Watch What Happens Live,' which debuted last summer and discusses the week in the world of Bravo and beyond.

But Cohen has a day job: as the network's senior vice president of original programming and development, he's largely been responsible for bringing shows like 'Top Chef,' 'Project Runway,' 'Flipping Out,' 'The Real Housewives' series and others to the network. So he's the perfect guy to talk to about the mishegas going on with the Jersey Housewives as they shoot their second season, fluky edits on the finale of 'Top Chef,' and whatever he could say about the Salahis, who crashed a White House dinner while being recruited for 'The Real Housewives of D.C.' Our talk is after the jump.

I live in New Jersey, so I am reading about the trials and travails of the Real Housewives in the local paper. When you see
Danielle get her hair pulled and then there's a trial, do you have that moment where you see this being filmed and go, 'I can't wait until this goes on the air?'
Um, yeah, I mean, you know, I would say with all the housewives, there's a moment where I come in and I get a call from the producers saying you're not gonna believe what happened last night. And I say, 'What?' And they tell me, and I say OMG, you know? And so it's always surprising, and it's never anything that I would ever predict.

How is that going to play out on the show?
You know what, it's too soon to tell. We're still in production on the show.

I was never a huge 'Real Housewives' fan. My fiancee always watched it. But the whole thing about the Jersey one that I thought was interesting, was that it had a plot. How did that whole thing come about?

It came about that...how did what come about? I mean, the book? I think we know how the book came about. They, Caroline's sister in law heard of the book, told her about it, they brought it around, and I would say within a month of shooting, it became all about this book.

And it just culminated with this dinner and we never could've imagined. And I think there, it was one of the great things about that show, that we showed the table flip at the beginning, in the first minute of the first episode. So you knew somehow that in eight weeks, this was all going to go horribly wrong. And you didn't know what would lead up to it. So it was an amazing thing.

And everybody was keen on the "thick as thieves" thing too.
Right, yes.

Did you learn anything from that Housewives that you thought might guide your editing or directing of the later Housewives? Atlanta looks like it had a little bit more of a storyline than the original Atlanta season. I keep hearing 'Tardy for the Party' in my head over and over.
Yeah, you and me both. I think we learn something new as we keep getting deeper and deeper into this franchise, but I think, you know, more than anything, when there is an overarching story to tell through the season, when it builds to something, or when the women are all... I think we all (saw it) in New York season two. I think, you know, it culminated with them planning this charity event, which they had been planning, and planning, and planning, and then it happened.

I mean, I think when there's something at the end of the season that they're all working towards, it's just an arc. So I think, you know, having the Shoes by Sheree show happen in Atlanta was great. So you know, but I think at the core of the show, it's about the women and their relationships, and I think the reason that you notice a story kind of gelling more is that the more the women get to know each other, and the more they're comfortable with the cameras, and the more seasons we do, it just seems like everything gets even more real, and deeper.

So you're sick of 'Tardy for the Party?' You don't ever want to hear it again?
No, I didn't say that. No, I said I couldn't get it out of my mind. I didn't say I was sick of it.

It's actually not a bad song at all.
No, it's not a bad song. A jam.

Question about 'Top Chef:' with the finale this year, viewers looked at it and scratched their heads about how and why Mike won. But then, when you read
Tom Colicchio's blog, it all falls into place. What happens in the editing, where stuff seems missing?
Well, I think it's a delicate dance that we do so that, you know, on the one hand, we don't want to make it so transparent for our viewers so that at 10:45, you know exactly who's going to win and it's not exciting to keep watching because you're like, 'Well it was so obvious; that was boring.'

And on the other hand, we want it to be transparent to the point where you understand why that person won. And so maybe for some people, they felt like you know, we didn't do a great job in the edit, and for others, they totally got it. But that's the dance. That's the dance for every episode of every reality competition that we do.

Do you suggest that people go in and look at the blogs, look at the website, to fill in the blanks?
Yeah, I mean, I think the good news about Bravo viewers are, they're the most engaged audience of any audience on cable. They look for more, they read more, they want to know more. So I think that, you know, and I think that's one of the reasons why Tom's blog is so great, and all the judges and everything. I mean, I think they're going to tell you exactly what did happen.

And the truth of the matter is, that what did happen is, that over the course of, you know, a two-and-a-half hour period of time in which there are questions and you know, all that stuff, that's how they came to that decision. So it is challenging during the course of a condensed, five-minute period to convey what really happened, without also ruining, pulling the plug on the excitement of the episode.

The Salahis, when you heard about when that happened, because obviously they were being scouted...
Can't really talk about it. It's still.. you know what? There's still... I wish that I could, and there will come a point where we will have a long conversation about it, but I just can't right now.

A couple questions about your show 'Watch What Happens Live.' First of all, are you friends with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick? Because they're both on the show all the time. My fiancee was wondering about that, so there we go.
Yes. They're good friends of mine and they did me a great solid by coming on. You know, so I've had the luck of having them, and Mark Consuelos and Kelly (Ripa), and Kristen Johnston, and Anderson Cooper call in, and Gail King call in. On the flip side, someone like Jimmy Fallon, who I don't know, was... I ran into him in the hallway, and he was like, 'I want to come on your show.' And so it's been fun.

How's the show going to look going forward? Are you going to expand beyond the world of Bravo?
Oh, yeah, no, I mean I think that what I say every week a few times on the air is it's about Bravo and beyond. So yeah, we're about Bravo, but we're also about beyond. I mean, I think that you saw, on the episode with Sarah Jessica or the episode... well, Sarah announced the fan favorite of 'Top Chef.'

But with Mark Consuelos and Kristen Johnston, which was one of my top four episodes, I think, in terms of my personal favorite, we didn't talk about Bravo at all. You know, we made a few outside references and whatever, but we played games, I mean, we just had a blast. And so I think that we want it to be about that, we want it to be unlikely combinations, we want it to be about people who are fans of Bravo shows.

Are you comfortable being the face of Bravo, being that guy that's most very closely identified with the network?
I'm comfortable with doing the show and with doing all this for as long as it's doing well, and Bravo will have me, and everyone's happy. And you know, I have a great day job, and I also happen to be having a great time doing this whole other career. You know, I mean, these reunion shows are a blast. They're enormously successful. They're really fun to do. And you know, so, and the 'Watch What Happens Live' thing, you know, as long as the ratings are good, like any other show on Bravo, hopefully they'll keep it on.

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I LOVE Andy! He is great on his Thursday night show and on the Reunion shows.

Mazel Andy!

March 24 2010 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Andy Cohen. He's the main reason I watch Bravo. I love watching his video blogs also. He has a great sense of humor and just seems like such a nice guy. I am jealous of Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick that they get to be friends with him.

March 22 2010 at 8:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Andy -

Who cares about your dialect and way of speaking. The point is to put out to the public the truth. Not a bunch of lies and filth, raunch and scum. Especially in the area of women and wives. Perhaps you need to "bore" people with REAL peoples lives. Like battered women, dead beat Dads, homeless people, unemployed Los Angeles city employees, cancer victims, the disabled and blind who have no dental at ALL in California - Downs Syndrome, blind or not. That's the REAL people of the world...wake up and smell the coffee.

March 22 2010 at 7:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I live in Orange County, Ca. and have all my life. And believe me you? I dont know where they found those women on that TV show, but that is NOT the housewives of Orange County. The ones from Orange County are Mexican, plump, ride the bus or drive old Honda cars. Have 4-6 kids who are little thugs and believe me you? Those women arent crying they cant buy there kid a BMW like their friends at schools parents did. As a matter of fact? Those women are at 99 cent only, not getting botox injections. The entire show is a joke, an adamant lie of the REAL housewives of Orange County. And those "thangs" called women? Sitting drunk at a table wearing Jimmy Choos ranting the other married a dead man for two million and has tabloid motel pics. Off getting tattoos and spread out in way too revealing swimwear...its gross. No housewife in Orange County a native working at motel 6 as a maid - is saving up for a 50k "Hello Kitty" watch and last, it was overtime to take "life in the fab lane" off of TV in this economy. Thanks - for bringing lies and a joke to network television and something UN-REAL.

March 22 2010 at 7:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you hate Andy, why did you come here and reaf the article?

March 22 2010 at 7:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

YOU KNOW, I think Andy Cohen is a very handsome man, but YOU KNOW, he certainly doesn't talk like he is an executive on BRAVO. He has the speech of a kid out of high school, or better yet, still in high school. Too many YOU KNOW's in there. If you cleaned it up above, then perhaps you needa new proof reader, YOU KNOW. There were a ton of YOU KNOW's in there and it doesn't make it any more real with them there. They are too obvious, YOU KNOW?

March 22 2010 at 7:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Andy is hilarious! His charm is in the fact that he has no problem asking the questions that most interviewers would not ask, and displaying elements of himself that others normally would not.

He seems like a cool guy to me. I'd love to get drunk with him. :)

The fact that he's got such a high rank at Bravo means he's got a lot going on upstairs. Talent and hard work go a long way in this competitive, dog-eat-dog business.

Often, when things are unscripted, and the speaker has not practiced, the "you knows" and "ummms" will be more prevalent, than if you were reading off of a script. That's exactly what I enjoy about Andy's appearances on the reunions and Watch What Happens.

March 22 2010 at 5:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

*NOTE TO THE AUTHOR: It is "FLIPPING OUT"... not "Flipped Out".

March 22 2010 at 5:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This jerk should be it with a very large pie and forced to watch about a month of nonstop repeats of the stupid inane garbage that bravo pollutes the airways with. Nothing but self centered sluts and tramps and weirdos and freaks. Add to that the moron who announces upcoming shows like some zombie robot and they are about the worst network out there. They used to have good programing but this jerk has ruined it all.

March 22 2010 at 4:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Andy wants to be not only the face of Bravo but the ONLY face we see on Bravo! And just try to leave a comment about him on the Bravo web site and you can't. ANDY NEEDS TO GO!!! HE is gross!

March 22 2010 at 4:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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