Andy Cohen's got the 411. But come April 16th, he'll also have the 305 when he acts as the Grand Marshal of the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade and Festival.
And in case you've already written Cohen off as nothing more than an overly happy, cross-eyed referee for dueling Housewife reunions, let us just say he's so much more. Think of him as the Wizard of Oz of Bravo, taking over the network's development and production
slate and bringing on a bevy of reality gems.
In the following Q&A, he explains why Real Housewives of Miami was only six weeks, why they had to do the reunion live, and what Elsa Patton has in common with a hairless pomeranian named Jiggy.
New Times: Did you ever imagine you'd become an on-air personality?
Andy Cohen: I did not. When I went to college, I wanted to be a reporter or an anchor man but I kind of gave that up when I graduated because I moved straight to New York and got a job right out of college at CBS New York and I was like 'Wow, I'm not going to beat this'. I wasn't going to go to Dubuque [Iowa] and try to work my way up from small market to small market. So for this to happen now, 21 years into my career, it's wild. And exciting. And fun.
What's your favorite part about your job?
Too many to count! Just talking to people and getting to know people and having fun with them, being on Watch What Happens Live!, I don't even call that a job. My mom came to the show with me last night and we were getting home at 12:30 and I was like 'Can you believe that's even considered work, what I just did?' It's just fun.
Least favorite part about your job?
I hate negotiating contracts. It just gets really personal and nasty, not nasty, but very personal and sensitive.
Is there going to be a reality show in the future about Andy Cohen? What would it be called?
It would be called "Enough of Andy". I mean, I already over-share, I'm very active on Twitter, I have a blog, I have a live show that's on twice a week where I throw my opinions around, so I don't think there's a market for it. I don't think there's a need for it. Yeah.
Are there any shows you took a chance with and were surprised they became successful?
The Real Houswives. It was something that we all thought could be interesting but you just never know what's going to resonate. And Top Chef! And that the title of 'Top Chef' actually means something to a lot of people and a lot of chefs is something we're all very proud of here.
It seems like Bravo shows shot in Miami [Miami Social and the Real Housewives of Miami] have some ratings challenges. Any insight on this?
I don't know, I feel pretty good about the Miami Housewives. We threw it on with not a lot of promotion and I think those woman are great characters. The truth of the matter was, we put it on because everyone in America was going through such a horrible winter and we just kind of realized we had Miami on the shelf, ready to go, and we needed a little more time to finish New York [Housewives] to make it perfect. Let's throw it on as a six-week kind of antidote to all the winter madness.
And then by the time we decided to do a reunion show, we were three weeks in and didn't have time to post it properly, so we decided to do one live. And I think the fact that we [did] a live reunion show speaks to our wanting to do something to celebrate the end of the show. I'll say that when I had Elsa and Marysol on Watch What Happens Live! it was one of the best half hours I've ever had on TV or off TV. It was a blast!
Elsa has been the break-out star of the show, hasn't she?
She has been one of them, yeah. Look, the breakout star of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was a hairless pomeranian named Jiggy and we love break-out stars.
If Elsa Patton could grant you three wishes, what would they be?
I think Elsa 'can' grant me three wishes, because I think she is a witch. But one would be that she comes back on Watch What Happens Live!, two would be that she finds me the love of my life, and three would be eternal health and happiness.
Didn't she say that you were incapable of love?
Yes she did! But I'd think she'd be more qualified if she says I'm not capable to find me the one. She actually tweeted me over the weekend and she said 'it's not that he's not capable, he's not able to find it when its in front of him' and I tweeted her back and said 'well, I realize that I'm madly in love with you. How do you explain that?'
Maybe you and Elsa will end up together.
[Long awkward pause]
Uhm, you know what? Stranger things have happened.
Who would win a cage match between Elsa and Ramona [from the Real Housewives of New York]?
Ramona. I think she's fueled by Pinot Grigio, she works out a lot, and Elsa's got a bum knee. But, I think Elsa could reduce Ramona to tears. If it was a couch match, Elsa could cut Ramon down. But if you threw them in a cage, it's going to be Ramona.
How about a cage match between Ramona and Teresa [from the Real Housewives of New Jersey] who famously shoved you during Jersey's last reunion?
Teresa, Teresa, Teresa.
As Grand Marshal of the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, what does gay pride mean to you?
It just means being exactly who you are and being proud of it and walking tall in your shoes. Not compromising who you are. And, you know, waving and sitting in the back of a convertible and having fun and hopefully having a cocktail at some point. You know, the best message is something that I do on my show and we do on Bravo all the time which is, be yourself.
What gay stereotypes drive you nuts?
So many, but I think the lisping, flamboyant queen thing is over played and it's just lame at this point. I think now there's so many gay people who are parents, spouses, and who have real committed long-term relationships that the idea that everyone's in a boa dancing on a bar is, you know, very 1988.
Which gay stereotypes do you embrace?
I would embrace that we're fun and I think we find the humor in things.
Why do you think the shows on Bravo have become so popular, especially among gay fans?
I think they're popular because of the characters. I think we have amazing people doing amazing things and often the shows are really fun, I think they're addictive. I think Bravo has a very specific vibe and humor and way we present people. We have a very sophisticated audience and I think they connect with our characters. I think a lot of the time the lifestyles that are being portrayed are aspirational and interesting.
What do you think about gay culture becoming more prevalent in pop culture, especially TV?
I think it's great, it's huge. There weren't that many gay role models on TV when I was growing up and I'm really proud that there's kids around the country that see gay people on Bravo that are talented and creative with strength, courage, and pride in the themselves. The world we show is an inclusive world where gay people are thriving alongside straight people and that's a way of life. I think that the more kids who see this and feel different in their communities will feel a little less different when they see people like Brad Goreski and Jeff Lewis and Jackie Warner and on and on and on. I think it's very positive.
Are there any other networks or TV shows that you think are making a similar statement?
I think The Real World was really revolutionary. I remember watching the first season of that show back in 1990, 1991 and they had Norman, a gay person in the first cast. And they ended up having one in almost every cast. I can't understate what that show did as a ground breaking show. I think that MTV has really been at the forefront of representing gay people in a time when it wasn't happening.
How much importance does gay marriage have for you when electing a presidential candidate in 2012?
Should it be the centerpiece of everyone's campaign? No. I think Obama made a big statement with DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act]. I think that this gay marriage issue is about baby steps and I think the country's coming around and it was courageous of Obama to come and out say we're not going to stand behind fighting this DOMA thing anymore. I was really happy about that. I think slowly this thing is going to happen and you need to slowly gather momentum and get the American public behind it.
You said on Twitter recently that you were in a green room with Laura Bush, could you describe that experience for us?
I was in the green room looking for her but she wasn't there, she was already in the studio. So I did see her in the studio when she was coming out and I was coming in and we had a little moment where we smiled at each other and she seems like a lovely lady. I was...um, I'm always energized and excited by a Secret Service detail, um, and so, I was also interested in her posse.
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What are you looking forward to the most when you embark on Miami?
Oh my god, sun, heat, just meeting people. I love Miami, I love South Beach. It's so fun and I think Miami just totally figured it out by having this in April. It's always fun time to be in Miami, but April especially. It's just going to be fun and I'm excited.