Andy Cohen on Real Housewives, Bravo, and lying to Oprah Winfrey
|Photo by Frank Veronsky|
In his new book, Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture, Cohen chronicles his journey from a spunky, soap-opera-obsessed boy in St. Louis, Missouri; to an outspoken journalism student at Boston University who landed an internship at CBS; to a creative and forward-thinking executive at Bravo. Highlights include true tales of trying to book Mariah Carey for CBS while suffering from hemorrhoids, coming out to his family and friends, covering major news events like the Oklahoma City bombing, and behind-the-scenes Real Housewives gossip.
Cohen visited the Mall of America recently to promote his book. City Pages chatted with him prior to his appearance, and the talkative star had a lot to say.
You've worked both behind the camera as a producer and in front of it as a host. What do you think is the secret to your success in the television industry?
I think the secret to my success is the passion I've always had for what I'm doing. It's always guided me and given me energy and helped me to succeed. I think one of the reasons I love my book is that it's a real dream-come-true story. I started out dreaming of being on TV and in TV, and it happened.
|Photo by Ali Crosbie|
|Andy Cohen at Mall of America|
I think my favorite episode was recently when I had Dan Rather and John Mayer on. It was an unlikely duo, and they were both so great. I love putting unlikely combinations on live TV together. That's the key to my show.
What do you think people will be most surprised to learn about you when they read your book?
I think people will be surprised to hear my story about being a go-go dancer for the B-52s. I think they'll be surprised to hear about me lying to Susan Lucci and Oprah Winfrey on multiple occasions, and getting busted every time. My mouth has gotten me in so much trouble, but I had to tell the stories behind them because it's just too funny.
Let's talk about lying to Susan Lucci and Oprah Winfrey. If you could go back and do it again, would lie or would you play by the rules?
I would do exactly what I did because, crazily, it always worked out for me.
The book covers so much of your success, but you also share lots of hilarious embarrassing moments when things went completely wrong.
I think that that's the funny stuff. I think for myself, it's fun to hear about people's failures. And to me, our failures are as important, if not more important, than our successes because you can learn from them.
Coming out played an important role in your book, and you wrote about how scared you were to tell your family and friends you were gay. What is it like to look back at that time in your life?
I read a lot of old journals. I didn't want to appear overdramatic in the book about what I was going through during that time, but it was overdramatic. It was a terrible time. There were no gay people on TV, I didn't have any gay role models, and I didn't know of any gay people in St. Louis. So coming out was a very foreign idea for me.
Everything has changed in the world today, but at the same time if you're a kid in the suburbs of Minnesota and you're thinking about coming out of the closet, I can imagine that it would be just as scary today as it was then. That's one of the reasons why I shared my story.
No, I've never met him. I hope he reads my book.
Your family, friends, co-workers, favorite celebrities and the Housewives are all part of your book. What has their reaction been?
So far, the reaction has been really great from everyone who's been mentioned in the book. None of the Housewives have reacted negatively.
Initially, my mom was totally aghast. She said, "I don't scream that much! You have me come in screaming all the time." I said, "You're really wise. You're the best character in the book." And she said, "I'm not a character!" I had to tell her that it's a book so she kind of is a character.
The Real Housewives reunions can be brutal at times, and you once referred to the New York Housewives as "beasts."
Yes, they were beastly at that last reunion.
At the end of the day, you obviously love the shows and the Housewives, but do you ever think, "These women are awful. Why are we doing a show about them?"
No, I never think that the women are awful. There are times when some stretch my patience, but we're all in this together. It's a business relationship. I love them all and it's a tough situation for them to be in, too. They live their lives in front of the cameras and people have opinions on every aspect of how they think, talk, walk, and dress. So I give it up to them.