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It’s been a dizzying year of off- and on-screen drama for fans of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise. Jen Shah shocked Salt Lake City castmates and fans by pleading guilty in July to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, leaving her future with the series in doubt. On Beverly Hills, an epic, off-screen freakout at a nightclub in Aspen (“I feel like I have seen the devil and her name is Kathy Hilton,” said witness Lisa Rinna) forged lasting fissures between Hilton and her younger sister, Kyle Richards. And only this week, one of the stars of the upcoming New York reboot dropped out after being targeted with anti-Jewish hate on social media. (This after reports of racism among the original RHONY cast led Bravo to launch an internal investigation and cancel the season 13 reunion.)
Here to make help make sense of it all is Andy Cohen, the 54-year-old grandmaster of all things Housewives. Cohen — who has partnered with Amazon to promote Alexa through the holiday season (“I walk in my apartment and I’m like, ‘Alexa — let’s get lit!” he says) — sat down over Zoom with The Hollywood Reporter to offer updates on those stories, and fill us in on his own holiday plans, including getting drunk on CNN on New Year’s Eve alongside his old pal, Anderson Cooper.
Hi, Andy. Lizzy Savetsky, a new cast member on the rebooted Real Housewives of New York City, quit the show over antisemitic harassment. Can you tell us anything more about what happened there? Was it all amicable?
Yes, it was all mutual and I can’t really tell you more. I think her statement speaks for itself. I will say that I posted about antisemitism on Twitter last month, and the responses were pretty alarming. I think it’s a scary time right now. I’m a Jewish man myself, obviously. And antisemitism is something that is really problematic right now and upsetting. I think social media particularly is a dangerous place. As a Jewish man, it’s really upsetting.
Is Lizzy going to be replaced or are you just moving on without her?
We’re continuing production. There are six housewives currently. We started with seven. But we’re moving forward with the season.
And why are you completely rebooting New York? What happened that you needed to completely revamp that franchise as opposed to any of the other franchises?
I think that we have been telling the story of the same group of women for some time — women who people love, and I love, and care about.
And we will continue telling their stories in RHONY Legacy. It just seemed like there were a million other stories that we could tell in New York City, which is the greatest city, in my mind, in the country. This is going to be an entirely new, fresh series that represents a different version of New York City.
I could not be more excited because old-school RHONY fans are still going to get the RHONY that they love. And we’ve got a whole new group of women to introduce people to. I just think it’s going to be energetic. It’s the best of all possible worlds.
In terms of Jen Shah, is she officially off of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City?
She’s being sentenced on Dec. 15. So I think we have to wait. I think that’s up to a judge. She’s pled guilty and she’s waiting to be sentenced. She’s facing up to 14 or 15 years. So I think it’s dependent on what her sentence is.
Interesting. But let’s say she had to do, I don’t know, six months — would she stay on the show?
I would rather see what happens with the sentencing than go into hypotheticals about what could happen. I think that your questions will be answered on Dec. 15.
OK and regarding Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Hilton sisters, Kyle Richards and Kathy Hilton, have they reconciled at all? Is it going to be a Merry Christmas at the Hiltons?
I hope so. I don’t know. I texted with Kyle about something else the other day. But I haven’t gotten the full update.
There’s this story circulating that the new CNN chief, Chris Licht, wants more sobriety on CNN’s New Year’s Eve. And that you sort of pushed back on that on Watch What Happens Live and said you were going to “party harder” than ever. Were you kidding, or are you serious?
I’m not [kidding]. What [Chris Licht] said was that he didn’t want the correspondents out there drinking, but that he wanted Anderson [Cooper] and I to do our thing. So I’m happy to do our thing. My only directive for years on CNN has been to have fun on New Year’s Eve, and that is absolutely what I plan to do.
You’ve said in the past that the only thing you regret from last year was sort of dissing Ryan Seacrest. Have you ever apologized to him directly about it or anything?
I did. I think I sent him a text after, and I think, listen, it was so stupid. It was, as everything is, blown out of proportion and it was clickbait. It was an offhanded comment about nothing that really had to do with him. It was about Journey. I was really going after the current iteration of Journey. Because I’m a big Steve Perry fan. Right. And then I wound up kind of in inadvertently, you know, throwing the ABC broadcast under the bus. But it was really about Journey. It was not a big deal and it was clickbait in its purest sense.
And then, as I recall, you had some outgoing words for the exiting New York City mayor.
Oh? I don’t remember that. (Laughs.)
How is the new mayor faring in comparison? Any complaints?
I knew that was going to be your question. It’s only a year in. It’s too soon to tell. I would say there’s a lot of work to be done in New York City.
Well, L.A. has a new mayor now, so hopefully some work will get done over here, as well.
I’m a big fan of Selling Sunset and Christine Quinn specifically. Would you ever want to poach her over to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?
You know, I never thought about it. I mean, she’s on her own show, isn’t she?
Yeah. But you know, it’s sort of a competitor to you. You would think you would want the best talent.
I think the Housewives kind of stands on its own. I don’t know. I never thought about it, honestly. I mean, she’s on another show. I guess if she left that show and she was good friends with some of the women and a little time had passed… I don’t know.
It’s more organic, is what you’re saying — that you actually do want real friends on Housewives.
We like the vibe to be a little more organic, yeah.
You’re a dad times two now. What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?
I’m entertaining in New York. I am hosting my entire family. They are saving me a lot of time and trouble by coming to New York for the first time. It’s my first time in New York for Thanksgiving. I always go to St. Louis, but I have two little kids. So they’re helping me out a great deal by allowing me to not have to travel with them.
I assume Anderson Cooper and you are sharing parenting tips and enjoying becoming fathers together?
Yes. Totally. I love it. It’s great. It’s so fun doing this with Anderson. He and I have been through so much in our lives together as friends. And being able to be fathers together when our kids are roughly the same age is so cool. Last night, I got home and I was on the phone with him, actually, planning New Year’s Eve. And I walked into my apartment and his son Wyatt was standing there. And I’m like, “Wyatt! What are you doing here?” I’m like, “Here’s your daddy,” and handed him the phone. It was so funny. He had come over for a little play date in the afternoon. It was awesome.
It’s really inspiring to see. It’s a great example you’re giving gay men — and everyone — but specifically gay men.
Finally, any surprises you could tease about New Year’s Eve?
Just that we’re going to have a ball. You know, there is one surprise: A good friend of mine called me last night and said, “I want to be a part of New Year’s Eve.” It was a surprising call to get. It’s someone that people care about and love very much. And so I need to wait to formulate what we’re going to do. But I’m really excited. It’s like the night that I look forward to all year. I get to hang out with my great friend. We get to entertain people who are home, who are ready to have fun and do shots with us. And I just absolutely love it.
Do you go out partying after the taping?
Interview edited for length and clarity.
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