You could call
him ''Mr. Bravo.'' Andy Cohen is the senior vice
president of production and programming for the Bravo
network, the host of the BravoTV.com online series
Watch What Happens, and the
network's most prolific blogger. On February 11,
Cohen hosts Bravo's 20 Most Outrageous
Moments, which chronicles the highs and lows of Bravo,
including lots of clips featuring what Cohen calls
''some of the most interesting homosexuals on TV.''
You promised Tim Gunn you'd help him find a
boyfriend, and he was on Ellen the other day
complaining you hadn't yet. How's that coming?
Here's the deal: I feel Tim needs to commit, the way
the women on Tim Gunn's Guide to Style do. You
know how Tim has the ladies sign a contract? Well,
that's what we need to do for Tim. I feel like
Tim's in no particular hurry because he's so
busy and personally satisfied with his life. After I
saw the show I sent him an e-mail and told him I'm
going to have him sign the contract. I think there are
lots of straight women willing to have a sex-free
relationship with him. Not that that's what we
want for him, of course.
How weird is it that you have the openly gay host
of a daytime TV show talking to the openly gay host of
another TV show about how an openly gay television
executive is trying to get him dates?
amazing to think of where we've come from in 10 years and 20
years out. There's a refreshing glut of gay
people on TV. What's even more important is the
way that gay people are represented as full people. They
aren't on because they're gay, they're on Bravo because
they're fascinating, creative people.
I've heard more than one person say, "Why
do we need a gay TV channel when we have
Bravo?" Was there a conscious decision to
gay up Bravo when you came on?
that. I started after Queer Eye took off. We
looked at what made that show such a success. As we focused
on new programming we looked at each of the Fab 5's
specialties -- cooking, style, design, fitness,
and beauty -- and we built on these affinity groups.
Is there a mandate at Bravo to put gay people on TV?
No. But certainly these affinity groups appeal to fun,
entertaining, aspirational, and exciting people.
So are you saying that Bravo's programming
strategy is based off of Queer Eye?
It kind of
naturally evolved after Queer Eye. Everything
we've done since that has spun off from one of those
affinity groups has done really well.
You've managed to take traditionally gay topics --
hairdressing and fashion design, especially -- and
make them mainstream. Is there a formula to
bringing arts and culture to everyday America?
The formula is
finding incredibly creative people and getting in on the
creative process. You see a dress come down the runway, and
when you've seen everything that goes into it,
when you've seen the buying of the fabric, the
alterations that were made in the process, it's more
exciting. And all of our shows let viewers in on the
different ways people go through that creative
process, whether it's on Runway or one of our
docu-soaps like Flipping Out or Work Out
where you see these people who are the top of their game in
their own element.
You're probably the first network executive since
Michael Eisner to step in front of the camera to be a
television personality as well. How did that happen?
fun. I started writing a blog. Well, actually, let me back
up. It started when I was e-mailing my boss reports
from the set of Battle of the Network Stars. The
stuff I was writing was pretty dishy, and my boss
said, "You should write a blog for
BravoTV.com." And what was great is that fans could
could write in and ask a question about Nina Garcia
[fashion director of Elle magazine and Project
Runway host] and I could go down to the studio and
ask Nina and post an answer. That's how we wound up doing
all the blogging on the site. Now Nina has a blog; Tim
has a blog. And then I started doing these Watch
What Happens online shows which were so
popular we made began doing on-air specials. So far
it's been really fun and really organic. My boss will
tell me when I look like a jerk, and I'm sure when
this phase of what I'm doing is over, they'll let me
You're extremely open and accessible as a network
exec. You blog about your personal life.
You've got a big ''E-mail Me'' button on
your blog. Do you see yourself as different from your colleagues?
it's indicative of Bravo that they encourage me to
keep this up. It's very much our attitude that
we want to respond to our viewers. The website really
feeds off the programming and vice versa. Watch What
Happens is one of the first shows to go from an
online format to being broadcast on-air. And with
Bravo's 20 Most Outrageous Moments,
that's something generated by the viewers. All
the clips were up online and the viewers voted on
them. It's really a user-programmed show, and
that's something really new and unique. We're
doing something similar for Make Me a Supermodel. You
can download recipes you see on Top Chef, but
we're going to take that further as we go forward.
We're interested in looking at making our shows part
of a 360-degree universe.
Also, when do you find time to blog?
I write on my way
to work in the cab or on my BlackBerry. I've really
gotten into a groove lately. It's a great outlet: I
like to write and I like to be busy. At the same time,
now and then it can be a bit of a drag.
What's one of the most outrageous moments you've
personally had while at Bravo?
Oh, there are so
many. I guess when I was hosting a live Watch What
Happens web show after the on-air finale of Top
Chef with Marcel and Ilan in the room. These are
two people who hated each other; I mean really hated
each other. It was so uncomfortable. Poor Ilan, all he
wanted to do was be at home with his family and
celebrate what should be this happy moment.
Was this the first time he'd seen the episode?
Yes. Oh, God, yeah. And he's sitting there with
Marcel right beside him. Then we took calls from fans
who had bad things to say about both of them. I don't
think anyone wanted to be there.