What You Don't Know About Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen is no stranger to television viewers, thanks to his dual on-air roles as host of Bravo's irreverent late-night talk show "Watch What Happens Live" and his on-screen appearances moderating the often-contentious reunion specials for the network's various "Real Housewives" shows of which he's also executive producer.


An internship at "CBS This Morning," as he told Oprah Daily, ultimately led Cohen to a job at CBS News before he eventually landed at the Bravo cable network, rising through the ranks to become the network's head of programming. There, Cohen made his biggest mark on television, bringing the "Real Housewives" franchise and many other reality hits to the screen before eventually becoming a major on-air presence himself. 

Since then, Cohen has become a somewhat ubiquitous media personality, serving as host of two SiriusXM channels, as co-host of CNN's annual New Year's Eve celebrations alongside pal Anderson Cooper, as host of game show "Ex-Rated," and as host/producer of ambitious deep-dive docuseries "For Real: The Story of Reality TV." He also served as host of the "Love Connection" reboot for two seasons before its cancelation.


Read on to find out what you don't know about Andy Cohen, one of the hardest-working guys on television.

The talk show host worked behind the scenes before he worked in front of the camera

Andy Cohen's journey from TV exec to TV star wasn't exactly a typical one. Before he ever wound up onscreen, noted Us Weekly, he was Bravo's vice president of original programming. In fact, Cohen got his big break when he offered himself an on-camera role on "The Real Housewives" reunion specials, and, in 2009, his own late-night talk show, "Watch What Happens Live."


As a profile in The Washington Post pointed out, before becoming a TV star, Cohen was no slouch as an executive. "Project Runway," "Top Chef," and, of course, "The Real Housewives" series are among the hits he shepherded to the screen. Serving as executive producer on the latter, Cohen kicked off a freight-train franchise that The Post described as "a smeared window into the messy drama of the sort-of rich and mildly famous [that] monetized the great American hunger for schadenfreude."

For a few years, Cohen did double duty as Bravo programming veep and on-air personality. Ultimately, reported Deadline in 2013, he decided to step down from his programming role at Bravo to launch his own production company, Most Talkative, inking a first-look development deal with Bravo.


His Real Housewives franchise was intended as a real-life Desperate Housewives

Andy Cohen didn't realize he would unleash one of television's most enduring franchises when he greenlit "The Real Housewives of Orange County," debuting in 2006. According to a Variety interview with Cohen, the show came about from Cohen's desire to produce a reality-TV version of the ABC drama "Desperate Housewives." That was when "RHOC" creator Scott Dunlop pitched an idea for an unscripted show that he described to The Orange County Register as "a satirical look at life in affluent gated communities" in California's Orange County. "I always thought it was a sociological time capsule of the nouveau riche," Cohen told Variety. Dunlop's original concept for the show, however, altered course when the recession hit in 2008, collapsing America's housing market and profoundly impacting some of the "RHOC" women's financial situations. 


This was particularly true of cast member Lynne Curtin, with the show documenting her eviction from her lavish home. "This was not the story that we were planning on telling," Cohen mused to Variety, "but this is what was really happening. That, to me, was a really stark example of our thesis proving its point."

Andy Cohen views the Real Housewives as a televised lesson in sociology

While Scott Dunlop may have come up with the idea that sparked the "Real Housewives" franchise, it was Andy Cohen who shaped and molded it to focus on interpersonal drama, vicious chardonnay-fueled verbal altercations, and the occasional flipping of tables. Speaking with Interview Magazine, Cohen credited "The Real World" for setting the template he followed. "It was so simple, yet totally unscripted and surprising," he said of MTV's trailblazing reality show. "Putting those people together was the ultimate sociological experiment."


Discussing "Housewives" during an appearance on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" Cohen mused that the shows had "replaced the soap opera basically." In that respect, Cohen explained, viewers can experience a sense of moral superiority as they "sit at home and think, oh my God, I would never do that, or I would or I think that's ridiculous."

Feminist academic Camille Paglia, in fact, lauded the show for its "master theme of the infectious hilarity and truth-telling delirium induced by copious alcohol." She also praised Cohen for having "altered and redeemed the pop culture landscape," noting that his instinct for reviving the soap opera for the 21st century has led to many lucrative projects for the network.


The star is close with John Mayer

Andy Cohen has many friends in the entertainment biz, but one friendship few would have predicted is his close relationship with musician John Mayer. So how did an openly gay TV executive and talk show host become BFF to the Casanova rock star whose many famous girlfriends have included Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Jessica Simpson, and Jennifer Aniston


Mayer and Cohen "kind of met cute" through a mutual friend, Cohen said on his SiriusXM Radio Andy channel. As he recalled, Cohen bumped into a pal strolling with a tall, long-haired guy wearing a hat. The three men decided to do some shopping, when Cohen spotted "paparazzi down the block" and had an epiphany. "I turned to Ricky and I go, 'Is this John Mayer that we're with right now?'"

Cohen and Mayer hit it off and stayed in touch, eventually becoming so tight they've spent several vacations together. "This man has taught me to be more considerate. To check in more. To have as much fun asking questions as answering them," wrote Mayer of Cohen in an Instagram story, as reported by People. "To be thoughtful and kind and fun and consistent with my love and my friendship."


The single dad owes it all to a surrogate

In February 2019, Andy Cohen welcomed a very special person into his life: his son, Benjamin Allen Cohen. He introduced the lad in an Instagram post, revealing he named his son after his grandfather, Ben Allen, and that he was "eternally grateful to an incredible surrogate."


Becoming a single father, Cohen admitted, didn't exactly cramp his dating style so much as completely overhaul it. "Now there's an endgame," he said of the responsibility of bringing another person into his son's life, now seeing potential mates through the prism of what kind of a parent that person would be. "Are you going to be a good stepfather? It's changed everything," Cohen admitted in an interview with People

Speaking with "Access," Cohen marveled at how much more time he'd been able to spend with Ben because of the pandemic. "I could honestly say that he's saved my life. I don't know what I would have been doing for the last year..." he explained.

Andy Cohen is a hardcore Deadhead

When it comes to his musical tastes, Andy Cohen is nothing if not eclectic — something he proved with the launch of his genre-spanning SiriusXM channel Andy Cohen's Kiki Lounge. While he enjoys artists ranging from Lady Gaga to Dolly Parton, one stands above all others in Cohen's musical pantheon: the Grateful Dead. In fact, Cohen has been a proud Deadhead since his junior year of high school, he revealed on "Late Night with Seth Meyers."


Back in 2015, Cohen and pal John Mayer hit the road to see the Dead's final live shows, writing about the experience for Entertainment Weekly. At one point, Cohen divulged, "I found myself in the middle of a Real Housewives of Grateful Dead reunion, featuring [bassist] Phil Lesh's wife, Jill, and [singer/guitarist] Bob Weir's wife, Natascha. They knew as much about me as I did their husbands, and that was awesome." Interestingly, Mayer went on to join Weir and Dead drummers Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzmann to play guitar in their spinoff band, Dead & Co.

Cohen is transferring his obsession to son Benjamin. "We listen to a ton of Grateful Dead constantly," he said during an appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." "We're not 'Baby Shark' people in this house."


He's a huge hockey fan who supports his hometown St. Louis Blues

Before heading to New York, Andy Cohen was born and raised in St. Louis. While he's no longer a St. Louis resident, he maintains a tight connection with his hometown, particularly when it comes to the city's sports teams. 


When the St. Louis Blues made it into the Stanley Cup finals in 2019, Cohen was right there for Game 7 in Boston. After the Blues won the cup by defeating the Boston Bruins, Cohen was approached by a St. Louis TV reporter. "I can't believe we're on the ice at the Bahston Gahdens," Cohen joked in an exaggerated faux Boston accent while outfitted in a Blues jersey. "Partying with the Blues who just won the Stanley Cup — unbelievable!"

Days after the Blues' big win, Cohen was still wearing that jersey when he appeared on "Late Night with Seth Meyers." As Cohen pointed out, the team — which had never won a Stanley Cup before — had gone "from worst to first" in their winning season. Recalling the experience of wearing a St. Louis jersey on the Bruins' home turf, Cohen noted, "So what I found was that people either wanted to give me the finger or take a selfie."


He's played himself many times (and once sold shoes to Carrie Bradshaw)

While Andy Cohen's journey from the executive offices to television talk show host was certainly unorthodox, so, too, was his foray into acting. As Cohen's IMDb credits reveal, he's managed to carve out an auxiliary career by portraying himself in numerous TV series, ranging from "Riverdale" to "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and many more. Other acting work includes Lady Gaga's "G.U.Y." music video, playing the disembodied, floating head of Greek god Zeus.


Prior to that, Cohen made two brief appearances on "Sex and the City." As Cohen explained, via E! News, those tiny roles came about after he begged Parker, a good friend, to run lines with him. Finally, he "finagled an audition" to play a party planner in an episode. "I'll never forget the looks of horror on Sarah Jessica and [executive producer John Benjamin] Hickey's faces when I tried to act out a scene for them," he recalled. "I didn't get the part."

However, Cohen eventually did make it onto the show. "I did play shirtless guy next to Carrie in gay bar in [S]eason 4 and [a] Barney['s] shoe salesman in [S]eason 6," he said.

He maintains a Watch What Happens Live blacklist of celebs who'll never appear on the show

On his late-night Bravo show "Watch What Happens Live," Andy Cohen has welcomed a wide and eclectic swath of humanity — ranging from gaggles of Real Housewives and assorted Bravo reality stars to such A-listers as Meryl Streep and Dame Julie Andrews. However, Cohen also maintains a small-but-expanding blacklist of stars who will never set foot on the "WWHL" stage. "And you would be surprised, there are a few people who we have deemed 'not worth the trouble,'" he told AOL Lifestyle, pointing to some celebs' refusal to go along with certain lines of questioning. "Or there are a couple people who have been on the show that we deem too annoying to come back," Cohen explained.


While Cohen discreetly didn't name names, during a previous interview with Rachael Ray, he singled out his "least-favorite" guest to have ever appeared on the show. "Amber Rose came on and she didn't want to answer any of the questions I was asking her. And she was wearing sunglasses," said Cohen of the disastrous appearance, adding that he and Rose shared a laugh afterward, where she noted she must have been one of his worst guests.

He transformed Lady Gaga's urine into perfume

In addition to the Grateful Dead, Andy Cohen is a big fan of Lady Gaga. She returned the favor by dropping by "Watch What Happens Live." 

The extremity of Cohen's fandom wasn't apparent until he made a surprising revelation during a subsequent appearance on "The Howard Stern Show." During the chat, Cohen confirmed that Gaga answered nature's call by peeing in a trash can in her "WWHL" dressing room. As Cohen recalled, he thought some of the pop star's urine would be a great addition to the show's ever-growing collection of "pop culture memorabilia," ranging from "Lindsay Lohan's cigarette butt" to "a breast implant that was removed from a Real Housewife." With that in mind, he instructed a production assistant to retrieve the urine "and put it inside a fancy bottle."


When the PA discovered that urine becomes "toxic" when stored, the urine was instead used to create a perfume, which Cohen described as smelling "kind of like dressed-up pee with a floral note." The first person to be doused with the scent of "Eau de Gaga," Cohen revealed, was "Jackass" ringleader Johnny Knoxville. "It seemed appropriate," Cohen quipped.

McDonald's is no longer Andy Cohen's favorite restaurant

There was a time when Andy Cohen's favorite meals weren't presented to him by a server at a fancy restaurant, but handed to him in a paper bag over the counter of a fast-food eatery. "I love a McDonald's cheeseburger," he admitted in an interview with the "How to Be Amazing" podcast. His go-to order, he revealed, was a value meal with two cheeseburgers and a super-sized order of fries, washed down with a Diet Coke.


Those days are sadly now behind him, he lamented in an interview with Bon Appetit, saying that McDonald's was his top choice food establishment "until my metabolism changed in my late 30s," he explained, noting that, in his younger days, he experienced "no hesitation" in chowing down on a pair of cheeseburgers. 

However, it was his on-air gig that led him to walk away from fast food, admitting that "being on TV is the great equalizer. If you gain five pounds, you can really tell on camera. It's a bummer."

He starred in his own animated series

Among his other various projects, Andy Cohen is also a published author, releasing his first book, "Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture," in 2012. His follow-up, "The Andy Cohen Diaries" (subtitled "A Deep Look at a Shallow Year"), chronicled one star-studded year in his life. 


That book also inspired a new TV project, an animated series (with Cohen voicing himself) likewise titled "The Andy Cohen Diaries." "I'm so excited to start writing more adventures in my diaries, and animated, short installments represent the perfect format to bring these to life," said Cohen of the series in a statement to Deadline.

What made the show different from his other TV projects was its length: Airing on the Quibi streaming service — which offered content meant to be watched on a phone while on the go — episodes were under 10 minutes. Sadly, "The Andy Cohen Diaries" came to a screeching halt when Quibi proved to be a massive dud that shut down seven months after launching. When Quibi bit the dust, so did Cohen's animated show (although it can still be seen on Roku, which scooped up distribution rights to Quibi's programming).


Andy Cohen is America's first openly gay talk show host

When Andy Cohen launched "Watch What Happens Live" back in 2009, he made television history as the first openly gay talk show host on American television. It's an honor that Cohen wears with pride and one which he feels holds a certain amount of obligation. "I'm the only gay late-night host and so I view it as a personal responsibility to speak up when our rights are being threatened, which has happened more, or when someone says something terrible or when there's a teachable moment," Cohen explained to The Hollywood Reporter, admitting he tends to "really lean into" those opportunities when they arise.


Speaking with Oprah Daily, Cohen shared his hope that the representation he brings to television can encourage and inspire young people who, like he was as a younger man, remain fearful of coming out. "I like to think there's some kid in St. Louis who turns on my show and is like, 'Wow! That guy's gay, and he seems happy.' I didn't have that."