7:00am PT by Marc Malkin
Andy Cohen Waves White Flag in Kathy Griffin Feud
Andy Cohen doesn’t want things to get too big.
Earlier this month, Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen relocated for a week from its New York headquarters to the Wiltern Theatre in L.A. as part of Bravo’s Emmy campaign for the late-night talk show. Unlike Cohen’s New York clubhouse that has an audience of just 36 people, the art deco theater in Koreatown was packed every night with 1,300 audience members, including die-hard Bravo fans and voting members from the Television Academy.
“I got an email from the head of Bravo today saying, ‘Oh, my God — do you think we should try to do this in New York in a bigger venue?’” Cohen, 49, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Cohen insists he isn’t interested. “The show works because it’s completely counter-intuitive to everything else that’s on in late-night,” he said. “I mean, we don’t have a shiny floor. We don’t have a band. We don’t have a big audience. And we’re the only live show in late-night. The experience of our show is very authentic to us. It's important to keep it that way.”
Cohen chatted with THR while taking a breather between wrapping up a pre-taped show with dozens of his infamous Housewives and going live with a show that included guests Ricky Martin and Milo Ventimiglia.
In the nine years since Cohen launched what he calls “the little engine that could,” his guest list has included Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron and more. His unfulfilled wish list still includes Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Matt Damon. He’d also welcome President Donald Trump on the show. “He’s the president!” Cohen said. “I would ask him everything. I mean, it would be amazing.”
For the record, Cohen says he has never approached Melania Trump about joining the Real Housewives of New York. “I don’t know if she has a strong enough personality for the show,” he said.
Cohen is not without his controversy. He and Kathy Griffin have been clashing ever since he replaced her on CNN as Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve co-host last year. She became a comedian non grata at the news network after she posed for a photo shoot holding a faux Donald Trump severed head. “You know what? I’ve kind of moved on,” Cohen now says, adding, “She seems to hate my guts very strongly. And you know what, that’s her prerogative. Everybody can have someone they hate. If I’m that person for her, so be it.”
As for another round of New Year’s Eve with his BFF, Cohen says no decisions have been made. “It was the highest-rated New Year’s Eve in the history of CNN,” he said. “And even though it was cold as balls, I had a lot of fun.”
Most recently, celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels bashed Cohen in an interview saying that his creation of the Housewives franchise is evidence that he “hates women.”
“I love women,” Cohen said. “Housewives is a show about women and it’s predominately for women, even though so many men watch it so I think that’s a really good question for the millions of women who watch the shows. … It’s a show about friendship. It’s a show about being a wife. It’s a show about being a mother. It’s a show about being a sister. And sometimes the experience of being a friend and a mother and a wife and a sister isn’t pleasant and sometimes it’s wonderful.
“I think [Michaels] probably never watched it,” he continued. "I think she’s probably seen a clip of Teresa flipping a table.”
And then he adds, “By the ways, this is the woman who screamed at people for a living on The Biggest Loser. She should stay in her own lane.” (Cohen also has said in the past that Michaels was the worst guest he ever had on WWHL.)
Cohen’s lane includes much more than WWHL and the Housewives. He and Cooper also tour the country with their comedy/conversation show AC2 and he’s also the host of Fox’s Love Connection. On that note: Cohen says he was approached many years ago by the casting director for The Bachelor after a profile of him appeared in W magazine when he was an executive at the now defunct Trio cable network. “I just said, ‘I am so gay, so unless you’re going to do a gay version, I don’t think that’s going to work,’” Cohen recalled.
Perhaps he’d consider starring in a same-sex Bachelor now after revealing last month that he’s single again after calling it quits with his Harvard Ph.D. boyfriend of about two years Clifton Dassuncao? “No,” Cohen said. “I host Love Connection and that’s as close as I’m going to get to a dating show.”
But he is looking for love? Cohen smiled and teased, “The night is young.”
A version of this story first appeared in the April 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.