Bravo’s giving its latenight talker “Watch What Happens: Live” a full five-day tryout next week.
The show, which runs Sundays and Thursdays on Bravo, will air live from Sunday through Dec. 16. Bravo also has put together plans to air a New Year’s Eve edition of “Watch What Happens Live.”
Hosted by Bravo programming senior VP Andy Cohen, “Watch What Happens” has evolved from a lark (as a spinoff of the channel’s popular reality cast reunion specials) into a strong latenight player for the channel. As a result, the show’s footprint continues to grow.
“We’re doing great on Sundays and Thursdays, and competing very well against some very established shows,” Cohen said. “We’re looking to have a little fun for a week. It’s more of a special holiday stunt, but we’re open to anything.”
“Watch What Happens” has been averaging 1.3 million viewers this season, as well as 817,000 adults 18-49, up 49% from last year. Show’s Nov. 23 episode brought in season highs — 2.2 million viewers and 1.5 million adults 18-49.
Cohen’s busy day job likely would prevent him from taking on a five-night talkshow workload full time. But he didn’t immediately shoot down the idea of bringing on a second host to expand “Watch What Happens” beyond its current two nights.
“It will be interesting to see how it plays out next week,” Cohen said. “I’m certainly interested to see how I go from day to night five days in a row. I’ve never gotten much sleep anyway.”
Besides its stable of “Real Housewives” and “Top Chef” guests, “Watch What Happens” has started to attract well-known names such as Liam Neeson and Tina Fey. Next week’s guests will include Anderson Cooper, Iman, Diane von Furstenberg, Denise Richards and Amy Sedaris.
The show maintains a low budget, shot live on a tiny Manhattan soundstage. Cohen and his guests sip cocktails, answer email and engage audience members via Twitter throughout the show.
“It’s ‘Playboy After Dark’ meets ‘Wayne’s World’ meets Larry King,” Cohen said. “Part of the charm is how small it is. It feels like a cocktail party that everyone is invited to. And now that the numbers are spreading and people are seeing what we’re doing, we’re getting contacted a lot more (from potential guests). Eleven p.m. on Bravo is really valuable real estate.”
As for the two-hour New Year’s Eve special, Cohen will host live from his “Watch What Happens” set starting at 10:30 p.m. ET. Guests will include comedienne Sandra Bernhard, Meghan McCain, singer-songwriter Jay Sean and several Bravo stars.
Cohen is also promising “TV’s first ever ‘wig drop'” live at midnight.
“We just decided to do this a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “To me, the last place in the universe I would want to be on New Year’s Eve is in Times Square. I want to be with my friends at a party. There is a lot of fun to be had on TV.”