Who Is Andy Cohen?
Andy Cohen’s TV career started with a hairbrush and dream. Cohen is one of television’s most ubiquitous personalities — a goal he seems to have set his sights on at a very young age, when he formed the habit of using a hairbrush as a pretend microphone.
He became the host of the late-night Bravo TV show Watch What Happens Live and Andy Cohen: Then and Now and is also synonymous with the Real Housewives franchise. Additionally, he hosted a revival of Love Connection. As a published author, his latest book, Superficial: More Adventures from the Andy Cohen Diaries, was released in 2016.
Early Life and First Interview
Andy Cohen, born on June 2, 1968, was raised in a Jewish-American family in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Missouri. The son of Lou and Evelyn Cohen, he has an older sister, Emily Rosenfeld (nee Cohen).
In interviews and in his 2012 memoir Most Talkative, he says he grew up with a keen interest in TV and celebrities. One show in particular comes up often in stories about Cohen’s early life — the soap All My Children, which he watched religiously in Clayton.
His love of the soap led him to his first celebrity interview subject — Susan Lucci — whom he persuaded to agree to an interview with him in New York in December 1987 while he was a journalism student at Boston University.
Early Career at CBS
Cohen graduated from Boston University with a BA in broadcast journalism. He had already held internships at St. Louis radio and TV stations in high school, and after his graduation from college in 1990, he landed a job in New York as a news clerk at CBS News assigned to the network’s morning show CBS This Morning.
He stayed at CBS for 10 years, becoming a producer on the morning show and also the prime-time news magazine 48 Hours. In 2000, he landed a job in program development at Trio, a cable network owned by NBCUniversal. In 2004, he moved over to Bravo (also owned by NBCUniversal) as vice president of original programming. He did not relinquish his management role at Bravo until 2014, even though his career as an on-camera personality on the network was then well under way.
The Mastermind Behind Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives’
In the minds of many, Cohen is most closely associated with the Real Housewives shows on Bravo. He is the host of the reunion shows that air at the conclusion of each Real Housewives season in which he is seen interviewing the participants and getting them to recount some of the memorable moments of conflict seen in the season’s episodes.
Cohen helped develop the Real Housewives franchise, starting with The Real Housewives of Orange County in 2006, when he was a programming and development executive at Bravo.
In his 10 years in program development at Bravo, Cohen helped shepherd the reality shows that would define the network — from the Real Housewives franchise to a slew of others, including Project Runway, Top Chef, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, The Millionaire Matchmaker, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List and many others. In November 2017, Cohen’s contract with NBCUniversal was renewed through 2020.
Cohen is unique in that he's one of the only executives in TV history to have parlayed a career in program management and production into a career as a TV star.
The First Openly Gay Host on Late-Night TV
With Watch What Happens Live, Cohen became the first openly gay man to host a late-night TV show. He came out while in college at Boston University, which he attended from 1986 to 1990.
“It was one of the scariest things that I’ve ever done,” he said in an interview with Joy Behar in 2012, talking about the moment he told his mother he was gay. “I'll never forget that day. I left [a] letter actually out which I didn't mean to, and my mom found it ... The letter was to a friend of mine in London who I came out to ... She [his mother] came and said, ‘I think you have something to tell me.’ I said, ‘I don't want to tell you,’ and she said, ‘You have to,’ and I said, ‘Well, you know. …’ She said, ‘You have to say the words so that you can say it.’ So I said it. I'm crying, crying, and about an hour later she said, ‘You know I would have hated your wife anyway.’”
Satellite Radio and Book Publishing
Outside of Bravo, Cohen has been busy expanding his media footprint. He has his own channel on Sirius XM radio (Radio Andy), and his own book imprint, Andy Cohen Books, with Henry Holt & Co.
Books: 'Diaries' and 'Superficial'
Cohen is the author of three books, all of which deal with his career as a celebrity interviewer and pop culture personality. The books are Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture (2012), The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look At a Shallow Year (2014) and Superficial: More Adventures from the Andy Cohen Diaries (2016).
Cohen has said that he sometimes feels that his life moves so fast that even he has trouble keeping track of where he’s been. It’s the reason why he began keeping a diary in 2014, a habit inspired by Oprah Winfrey that consequently spawned two of Cohen’s books — The Andy Cohen Diaries and Superficial.
“I sometimes think this can’t be my life,” he wrote in the introduction to Superficial. “And maybe that’s part of the reason I write everything down — it’s too good to forget.”
Live Appearances With Anderson Cooper
Cohen tours the country with his friend and CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper in the traveling show AC2: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper & Andy Cohen, in which they discuss various topics before live audiences. The two have also teamed up for CNN's annual New Year's Eve coverage since the 2017-18 special.
Son and Personal Life
In 2015, Cohen began dating Clifton Dassuncao, an MIT and Harvard graduate, 20 years his junior, described in Superficial as the “Brazilian Andy Samberg.” In March 2018, the TV host revealed that they had broken up.
Cohen welcomed a baby boy, Benjamin Allen, via surrogate in February 2019.
In March 2020, Cohen revealed that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
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