You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Andy Cohen on His New ‘Connection,’ Patti LuPone and Kathy Griffin

He’s juggling a lot these days — hosting and producing TV shows — and he tends to spend a lot of time with Kelly Ripa. But we’re not talking about Ryan Seacrest. It’s Andy Cohen who’s earning the title of “busiest man in show business.”

In addition to hosting “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen,” executive producing “The Real Housewives” series and other shows for Bravo, plus running his own radio network at Sirius, Cohen has been tapped as the host for the revival of “The Love Connection,” set to air on Fox this summer.

“My bandwidth is pretty large,” Cohen tells Variety. “I’m very deadline-oriented. I ask, ‘When do I need to get this done by?’ and then, I say, ‘OK, let’s figure out how to make this happen.’”

Cohen actually tried to make “Connection” happen for Bravo years ago, but didn’t envision himself as host. “I’m a big fan of the format,” he says. “This was something that just came to me, and I’m lucky it did.”

Fox considers itself to be the fortunate one. “Andy is one of the most gifted hosts in television,” says Rob Wade, president, alternative entertainment and specials, Fox. “He brings an infectious energy and humorous perspective to the show that the contestants, audience and viewers clearly all respond to.”

The new “Connection,” set to air this summer, will include contestants making initial judgments based on first impressions, but those may be deceiving. “We had someone give someone a 3 [out of 10], but by the end of the date they liked each other a lot more.”

Other changes to the show include the participation of gay couples. “I hope the show entertains,” he says. “It’s just great TV. I’ve always loved hearing about my friends’ first dates.”

Contestants will have the option of continuing their budding relationships or cashing out for $10,000. “Most people who had a real connection stayed with the person over [taking] the money,” Cohen says.

As he does with his Bravo shows, Cohen will employ social media to attract eyeballs.

“With almost 5 million fans and followers, Andy understands the authenticity and power of social media,” Wade says. “[He’ll do] a weekly ‘What Would Andy Do?’ recap of each episode for his fans, who are as equally engaged on social media.”

“Andy’s the embodiment of Bravo culture. He embodies what we call the ‘Bravo wink.’ We’re not judging, we’re amused by what we’re presenting.”
Frances Berwick

While non-broadcast platforms can drive eyeballs to TV screens, Cohen also utilizes his air time on cable to get hits online for his Bravo late-night talk show.

“At the end of every show at 11:30, Andy will say, ‘I’m going to keep going with my guests at BravoTV.com,’” says Frances Berwick, president, lifestyle networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “That’s when the guests are even looser and you get more stuff from them.”

Initially, Cohen relied on celebrity pals including Kelly Ripa, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jerry Seinfeld to help launch “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.” Today, he brings the same level of enthusiasm and authenticity that he did when he managed to land an interview with Emmy winner Susan Lucci (“All My Children”) when he was a student at Boston University for the school’s newspaper.

In May, he asked Patti LuPone what she thought of Madonna’s acting and the Broadway legend didn’t hold back. While her provocative comments were picked up on social media the next day, Cohen theorizes there’s less fallout when an actor says something in an interview situation.

“If someone had tweeted out that Madonna is ‘dead behind the eyes’ and she’s a ‘movie killer,’ that’s deliberate. No one’s asking when you tweet something. [But] I asked her. She’s someone who doesn’t give a f–k. Why should she? She’s Patti LuPone.”

Still, many feel we’re living in a hypersensitive times in which no one, not even comedians, can say anything controversial, or, at the very least, too many lines are being crossed. Just ask Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher. When Kathy Griffin tweeted out a photo (since deleted) of her holding an apparently bloodied President Trump mask, she lost her gig hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve countdown show. Some called for Maher to be fired after the host used the “n word” on his show, “Real Time.”

“I always think it’s a good idea to own it and then move on,” says Cohen, who has appeared on Maher’s “Real Time” and was executive producer of Griffin’s Bravo series “My Life on the D List.”

“Kathy will wind up getting booked again, and [Bill] will probably come up with a great way to talk about this on his show.”

Unlike Seacrest, who was on radio in his teens, Cohen never set out to become on-air talent.

“It’s unheard of,” he reflects on his career path. “It was never my intention to become the face of Bravo. If I had said that I wanted to when I was in charge of production and development, I would have been laughed out of the room. It happened very organically and slowly. I never shirked my day job.”

Adds Berwick: “Andy’s the embodiment of Bravo culture. He embodies what we call the ‘Bravo wink.’ We’re not judging, but we’re amused by what we’re presenting. The fact that Andy hosts many of our [“Housewives”] reunion shows and he’s on the air five nights week shows that he’s part of the fabric and the brand of the network.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Screen writer Beau WillimonMary Queen of

    Beau Willimon Re-Elected as President of Writers Guild of America East

    Beau Willimon, the playwright and showrunner who launched Netflix’s “House of Cards,” has been re-elected without opposition to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America East. Willimon also ran unopposed in 2017 to succeed Michael Winship. Kathy McGee was elected to the vice president slot over Phil Pilato. Secretary-treasurer Bob Schneider [...]

  • Dickinson First Look Teaser

    TV News: Apple Drops New 'Dickinson' Trailer With Hailee Steinfeld (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Apple’s “Dickinson” series released a new trailer and Netflix released the trailer for the fifth season of “Peaky Blinders.” DATES The “Cash Cab” revival will come to Bravo on Oct. 7. The game show takes place inside a New York cab, where unsuspecting passengers become contestants in a game of trivia for [...]

  • Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team

    Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team for Medical Drama in Development at CBS

    CBS is developing a medical drama that hails from writer Katie Wech, Variety has learned. Currently titled “Good Sam,” the series follows a talented yet stifled surgeon who embraces her leadership role after her renowned and pompous boss falls into a coma. When he awakens and wants to resume surgery, however, it falls to her to [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Will Gluck

    Will Gluck Sets TV Overall Deal at eOne (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Gluck has signed a two-year overall television deal with Entertainment One (eOne), Variety has learned exclusively. Under the deal, Richard Schwartz will continue to oversee all television projects for Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment, with eOne set to serve as studio on all projects under the partnership. “The choice for us was clear given their impeccable [...]

  • Katie Hockmeyer

    NBC Entertainment Names Katie Hockmeyer Exec VP of Late Night Programming

    Katie Hockmeyer has been named executive vice president of late night programming at NBC Entertainment She will report to NBC Entertainment co-chairmen George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy, where she will work on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “Saturday Night Live” and newly launched late-night addition, “A Little Late with [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content