INTERVIEW: Andy Cohen On Teresa Giudice, the Passing of Joan Rivers and How His Dog Opened Him Up to Dating
Andy Cohen, host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens: Live and maestro of the “Real Housewives” franchises, releases his second book today, cheekily titled The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year. We rang him up to chat about his latest literary effort, his emotional bond with soon-to-be-jailed Teresa Giudice, dealing with big egos and rumors of a possible “Housewives” series set in Philadelphia.
Philly Mag: Your first book, Most Talkative: Stories From The Front Lines of Pop Culture, was a New York Times best-selling memoir. What inspired you to write another one, besides a truckload of cash?
Andy: I love writing and I was trying to figure out what that second book was gonna be. I have always loved The Andy Warhol Diaries. It’s a book that has stayed with me—it’s sitting on my coffee table. And I thought, you know what, I’m in this place in my life where I’m going to all these parties, seeing all these celebrities, running around the world—wouldn’t it be fun to do my take on Warhol’s diaries? I didn’t even tell my publisher about it. I was like, I’m just gonna start writing it and see how it looked. I had three weeks done and I was into it. It’s good to love what you wrote, you know?
PM: What were the highlights of the year that you cover?
Andy: Oh my God. Certainly the dog [Wacha, named after a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher]. Rescuing and falling in love with the dog. That was really big. I had a blast in Brazil. I loved playing in the MLB all-star celebrity softball game. That was kind of a huge moment for me. I faced some fears.
PM: You’re a big Cardinals fan.
Andy: Yeah I am. But just because you’re a fan doesn’t mean you can play. I had a horrible time in Little League. I just sucked. So the all-star game was amazing. And being in Lady Gaga’s music video was fun.
PM: Did looking back at each day of an entire year of your life lead to any personal revelations?
Andy: Some would qualify these as trite reflections, but how fast time goes and how life can change in the blink of an eye. And don’t take anything for granted. I spent a lot of time last summer with Joan Rivers, developing a show for her to star in and produce. The book ends at the end of summer and I had seen her three weeks before at a wedding and four weeks before on the show and then she passes away. In terms of myself, I think the dog really opened me up to dating and that plays out in the book.
PM: Aside from the booze on set, what’s your secret to getting celebs to open up and relax on your show?
Andy: I want to celebrate them and I want them to have a great experience. I think that they see that. It’s also just a real authentic experience. Going on shows, there’s an expectation to perform. You’ll do a pre-interview and then the producers come in and they’re like “Dave or Jimmy or Seth or whatever really like this story, so we can ask you about that first and then we’re gonna do this…” It’s all really planned. All we demand of our guests is that they just come in and have a good time and play along. I think they really appreciate that. Carol Burnett was on a few weeks ago and she was so tickled that my dog jumped up on her when she was doing the Tarzan yell.
PM: Who’s at the top of your guest wish list?
Andy: Madonna. The First Lady. Beyoncé.
PM: That’s a good trio right there. All three of them together.
Andy: [laughs] Yeah. That would be amazing.
PM: So there were rumors swirling recently that there’s a Philadelphia edition of “Real Housewives” in the works. Any talk of that?
Andy: There hasn’t, no. I just think we’re good on “Housewives” right now. I think we’ve got enough.
PM: I’m sure you’re asked this constantly as you travel around the country.
Andy: Every single city.
PM: What was it like to cover something as serious as Teresa and Joe Giudice’s legal problems on Real Housewives of New Jersey this season?
Andy: It’s wild. A lot of people don’t even think they should be on the show. A lot of people think that they absolutely should be on the show and that this is something I should never even bring up to them. So there are wildly diverging opinions and serious repercussions for everything.
PM: Do you think most fans are enjoying the shadenfreude of her situation or is there a lot of sympathy for her too?
Andy: There’s a ton of sympathy for her.
PM: Teresa’s troubles seem to have moved you in a particularly strong way. Is that accurate and if so, why?
Andy: I have a really unique connection with these women. I knew them all before they were famous. I’ve been there every step of the way on this ride that they’re taking. And I was looking across from her [at the “RHONJ” reunion] thinking wow, this is gonna be your last reunion, either forever or for a long time. And you know, I’m a very nostalgic person. It just made me emotional for all she’s been through and all we’ve been through with her.
PM: Are there plans for how to handle that next season? With her behind bars and Joe at home with the kids?
Andy: No, we haven’t even gotten into it.
PM: Will you visit her when she goes away?
Andy: I haven’t even thought of it. If she wanted me to I would. You know, whatever. Who knows?
PM: Do you think there is sort of a “Housewives” curse, considering the number of divorces, the jail sentences, the canine tragedies?
Andy: Life is unpredictable. Look, fifty percent of relationships end in divorce and look how many we’ve had on “Housewives.” I think we’re at the low end. People have fallen in love while they’ve been on the show, too. Tamra [Judge] and Lauri [Peterson] on “Orange County” and on and on. So I think the show is reflective of a lot that’s going on. Some of that reality is harsher than you would want. We’re putting highly dramatic people on TV.
PM: Do you have a favorite Housewife? Does it change season to season or month to month?
Andy: You know what, it changes moment to moment, episode to episode. I have a great fondness for all of them, you know? I’m part of the team that casts all of them. So I want all of them to succeed. If you make it this far, I’m on your team.
PM: Some of them seem to feel they’re bigger than the show. You get the sense that they sort of resent you. Is that hard to handle?
Andy: Yeah, but it’s also like, there’s no guidebook on how to become famous. Everybody reacts to it differently. Some people get bloated heads and some people get more grateful and some people just kind of ride it out.
PM: What’s next for reality TV?
Andy: I think more live. More interactive. Just more more more. It keeps going, it keeps getting bigger.
PM: Any predictions for what’s in store for the next year of your life?
Andy: I can never predict. Hopefully this time next year I’m sitting in my new apartment with my dog and my better half. Who knows?