“Bill, what the hell is the ‘mazel of the week?!'” bellowed my boss’ 40-something year-old brother.
Andy Cohen, welcome to mainstream stardom.
Yes, many people — myself included — have wondered who the salt-and-pepper talking head on Bravo really is. On a recent Monday night, after watching him host the never-ending Real Housewives Of New York reunion special at 10 p.m. and Watch What Happens Live at midnight, I wondered, “Who the hell is this guy?”
The answer: The most genius man on television.
Remember when Bravo used to show classic foreign films? Yes, Fellini, Kurasawa and Devenue reigned supreme on this channel for years with Inside The Actors Studio With James Lipton being its only original program. Then one day, it all changed. Bravo went from high-brow film channel to the most topical reality TV-based network on the airwaves. Hyperactive catfights replaced Hamlet, Fellini fell to fashionistas and Kurasawa was slain by Kathy Griffin. And it was due to Andy Cohen.
Cohen is the genius who executive produced almost every single show that made Bravo what it is today. Every Housewife show — his idea. Every Top Chef incarnation — he gave it the greenlight. Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and Project Runway — all him. He has been able to capture the pop-culture pulse of America — catering to all walks of life. The content he produces, love it or hate it, is the now the stuff of that water-cooler convos, tweeting, wall posts and texts are all about.
And believe or not, the dude is a legit player in the media world. Outside of his seven primetime Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award, he has also been the programming at the former NBC Universal channel TRIO as well as a senior producer for The Early Show on CBS and a producer on 48 Hours and CBS This Morning.
With all that on his resume, he can now add late-night talk show host to his resume. On Watch What Happens Live, Cohen deftly combines late-night talk show with viewer interaction and network promotion — it’s basically a blog gone live. Segments like the aforementioned “Mozzle of the Week” (in which he gives his “cheers of the week” to a certain celeb, usually within the Bravo/NBC Universal family) have become pop culture phenomenon. And the guy is brilliant — his guests (Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Jessica Parker, etc.) are from the NBC Universal family, who give their comments about Bravo reality shows he produces. Utterly brilliant. Yet you never feel weird about all this self-promotion because Cohen is a natural performer. He’s able to trade jokes with Seinfeld and ham it up with whatever Housewife is on the show. He’s on point with all his pop culture insights and he’s not afraid to poke fun at himself. He’s so engaging you wonder why NBC hasn’t brought him over to be the centerpiece of their late night line-up. He’s the guy your girlfriend wants to meet up for cosmos and discuss celeb gossip and fashion.
And because the women love him, now 40-year-old husbands and 28-year-old fiancees who live and die for football have been brought into his circle. They pull their hair out because of housewives and now see the entertaining Cohen as a relief from reality TV overload, even though all the shows they hate are his idea.
Mazel Tov, Andy.
Photos Credit: Bravo