Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In today’s episode, Variety’s TV reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister talks with “America’s Got Talent” host Tyra Banks about how she juggles all of her jobs and with Andy Cohen about hosting “The Love Connection.”
Banks recently took over hosting duties on “AGT” for Nick Cannon, and says that while she enjoys hosting, it’s hard for her to set aside her producer’s instincts, given her years on “Top Model.”
“It’s been really exciting. I love the almost ‘mom’ role that I like to feel like I’m playing, or a big sister sometimes,” Banks says. “There’s a lot of emotion on the show. There’s the emotion that everyone wants, which is elation, and there’s the other side where dreams are dashed and hopes are crushed. So I’m there to give them hugs and love and pick them up, too.”
Banks says it’s hard for her to resist her instincts to offer constructive criticism. “I naturally want to help people get better,” says Banks. “That’s my value in life, so it’s actually hard” not to give advice. While Simon Cowell is the “daddy” of the show, she says Mel B is the naughty little sister. “She plays this ditzy thing, but she’s a very smart woman,” says Banks. Banks has a long history with Heidi Klum, given their past as angels for Victoria’s Secret, and Howie Mandel is her “home boy,” who’s taken her under his wing.
Banks will also return to host another season of “America’s Top Model,” which recently moved to VH1. To juggle her demanding schedule, Banks says she keeps it “chunky but funky, and stays away from the layer cake.” In other words: She likes to work on her projects in chunks, focusing on one at a time then moving onto another, rather than layering her work and trying to work on multiple things at once. “The chunks allow me to still have a life,” she says.
Andy Cohen is also a busy television host, given his work on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” as well as Fox’s “Love Connection.” Cohen says that he was a fan of the original 1980s show and that he tried to get the format for Bravo when he was in charge of programming, but was unsuccessful. But Fox eventually revived the show and offered him the hosting position. Cohen says that the series’ reception has been positive, and he is prepared to host Season 2.
“It’s something that made me happy,” Cohen says. “If it does go 10 years or 20 years, then I guarantee you it will continue to make me happy and that’ll be a great thing. That’s kind of how I view offers: If it’s something that I can creatively latch onto, then I’m good for whatever amount of time it is.”
He says he always wanted to host a game show, having grown up watching them. He describes “Love Connection” as a “weird hybrid space that’s not really a game show. It’s a dating show and it really capitalizes on everything that I love to do … which is ask personal questions and get in there and make a little noise, and make a little trouble.”
Cohen admits he like stirring up trouble when he hosts the “Housewives” reunion shows on Bravo. “I just always loved to do it, and now I get paid well to do it. … I’m fearless about it, and I’m opinionated, and I like to get in there. And it’s fun.”
Society has changed a lot since the original “Love Connection,” and Cohen says that “we’re certainly making history. We’ve had lesbians on, and we have some gay guys coming up on the show. That was definitely never happening on the old ‘Love Connection.’ And I think anytime that I can just be me on TV and speak through the filter of a gay guy … hopefully in my matter-of-factness that can make being gay not so weird for people.”
You can listen to today’s episode here: