A Cocktail With Michelle Obama

Peter Kramer/Bravo

As "Watch What Happens" goes five nights, the Bravo host will try to compete in the big-league booking game.

Watch out, Jon Stewart, Andy Cohen is coming after you. With the announcement that Bravo's Watch What Happens Live will expand in January from a Sunday-Monday affair to five nights a week, the executive-turned-host is jumping headfirst into the fierce competition to land late-night guests.

"This really allows us to not only attract different talent but also to talk about different things," says Cohen, who is relinquishing his oversight of Bravo's current programming outside of Top Chef and the Housewives franchises but will remain involved in development at the network. "We've been on after the Housewives, and that's something we've talked a lot about," he says. "But if we're on a Tuesday night and we have some incredible actor or designer or author with us, we can just talk to them about anything." Cohen already lures more viewers in the 18-to-49 demo than 11 p.m. rivals Conan O'Brien and Chelsea Handler, but with a mandate to broaden his audience beyond loyal fans of Bravo programming, the New York-based host likely will begin chasing the same talent that populates Stewart's The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and even the shows of broadcasters David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon.

Working to Cohen's advantage is his status in the Manhattan celebrity scene, which has enables him to book friends including Sarah Jessica Parker, Jerry Seinfeld and Neil Patrick Harris. On Cohen's guest wish list: Michelle Obama. "Let's get her in the clubhouse, give her a cocktail and see what happens," he says of the first lady, noting that he'd like to open up the show to "newsmakers."

WWHL, which airs live from an 18-seat SoHo studio with props and games sometimes purchased at Duane Reade, costs a quarter of some rivals. And the budget is unlikely to rise. The challenge in expanding the series to a strip is keeping the show's intimacy, says WWHL producer Michael Davies, who has no plans to hire a new booker. Davies, a well-known soccer fan, also is eager to push the 2 ½-year-old show into sports. "Both Andy and I have a great interest in seeing [Portuguese footballer/model] Cristiano Ronaldo come on the show," quips Davies. "Perhaps for different reasons."

LATE-NIGHT TV RATINGS: Cohen has only aired on Sundays and Mondays, but his average beats established players among 18-49 viewers.

  • David Letterman: 1.117 million
  • Jay Leno: 1.068 million
  • Jon Stewart: 853,000
  • Andy Cohen: 718,000
  • Jimmy Kimmel: 711,000
  • Jimmy Fallon: 684,000
  • Stephen Colbert: 676,000
  • Craig Ferguson: 642,000
  • Conan O'Brien: 506,000
  • Chelsea Handler: 450,000
    Source: Nielsen live plus same-day viewership, 18-49 demo, Sept. 19-Nov. 27
 
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