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In a wide-ranging conversation with members of the Television Critics Association Saturday, Bravo executive-turned-late night host Andy Cohen touched on everything from his worst Watch What Happens Live guest to the suicide of Real Housewives personality Russell Armstrong.
Here’s a look at five highlights from Cohen’s appearance:
1. The Saga of Russell Armstrong
With his Bravo executive hat on, Cohen refused to accept responsibility for the suicide of Armstrong, the late estranged husband of Real Housewives star Taylor Armstrong. “He was given the option not to come back or to come back and he chose to come back,” said Cohen of the man who hung himself mere days before the hit Bravo show returned last summer. “He had spoken to producers a lot about how it had helped his business being on the show, so you know, I can’t speak to that.”
As for why the network chose to move forward and air the series as originally planned, Cohen responded: “We had many discussions as you can imagine for a long time about how to do this… and I think what emerged is the story of a woman trying to extricate herself from a bad, broken marriage, in which she was unhappy and domestic violence played a part. And that was the story that wound up emerging from the season.”
2. Cohen’s WWHL Dream Guest List
He used the platform to tick off his dream guest list, reiterating selections like Michelle Obama and Madonna as well as adding new entry Diana Ross. Cohen’s favorite kind of guest: people that he’s personally invested in along with particularly funny ladies. “Fill the clubhouse with funny ladies and I’m good,” he said with a laugh.
3. Cohen’s Worst WWHL Guest Thus Far
Cohen is king of the superlative, regularly doling out compliments to all of his favorite women, from pal Sara Jessica Parker to Housewives breakout Nene Leakes. So naturally he got a little uncomfortable when he was asked to reveal his least favorite WWHL guest to date: “Tyrese,” he said, before launching into a tale of how the model-turned-rapper was “freaked out” by the live nature of the show and unwilling to show his abs despite prodding from Cohen and his viewers.
4. More Nights Means More Pop Culture
Cohen and his executive producer Michael Davies touched on their plan to broaden the late night show and its guest list beyond the traditional cadre of Bravo stars in its new five-night-a-week format. Among those who fit that bill: Jimmy Fallon, Rosie O’Donnell and Holly Hunter, each of whom will appear later this month. At the same time, WWHL will continue to play host to Housewives, who Cohen says have no contractual obligation to appear on his show. In addition, the series will continue to add contributors, including guinea pig Sandra Bernhard.
5. WWHL Will Remain Small, Boozy and All About Social Media
Despite an expansion from two nights a week to five, Cohen and Davies stress that the show has no plans to expand its 18-seat Manhattan studio. WWHL will remain live and interactive, with Davies suggesting Facebook and Twitter influence the show’s content in real time. Finally, the show will keep the booze flowing. In fact, the only pre-interview question the show asks its guests, according to Davies: “What do you drink?”
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