Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Andy Cohen's Most Talkative: Fall From Grace

If you read my blog you are well aware of my love affair with Bravo and who better to be infatuated with than the guru of weave pulling, catty arguments than Andy Cohen himself? I've watched him evolve from the curly haired, oaf looking host of the season 2 Housewives of OC reunion to the ego inflated, Giggy obsessed talk show host that he's become today. Don't get me wrong, ego inflated or not, he's still fun to watch, masking his own curiosity by throwing in obscure names with an @ sign in front of them as the source of the question which has been itching him. (Sure Andy, @krt4567 really wants to know what Nick Lachey's memories are of being married to Jessica Simpson, sure.) He was always just so funny. Yes he often talks about his best friends Sarah Jessica Parker and Mattew Broderick or Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, but he was still just a regular Joe Schmoe who made it big and got to hob knob with celebrities and share with us. He was like our very own peep hole into celebrity life, he was there at the Met Gala and the Emmys gushing over Diana Ross and then coming to his show to talk about them and I loved him for it. And then I read his book and it all went to shambles.

So let's back up a minute, shall we? When Cohen's book first came out I was eager to read it because I wanted to hear his take on the Housewives, all the behind the scenes drama that I didn't get in the reunion, in cast interviews on Watch What Happens Live and in Lost Footage Specials. (Come on, there's got to be more!) But I didn't want to spend the money on the hardback for something I would read once and be done with it. Knowing that the library wouldn't have the book right away and  once it came in there would be a waiting list for it, I contemplated calling into his show to ask for an autographed copy as so many were doing, but then I never watch his show live. So I put his book in my back pocket and forgot about it. And then it came out in paperback and I thought of buying it, but still chose against it. And then, after five long years of work (not from me, my neighbors), a library was finally built around  the corner from my house and I put in a request for the book. I was telling a girlfriend how I was looking forward to reading it and she mentioned that she had a copy and I could borrow it. (Thanks, AK!)

And read it I did. It was a quick read, actually I think it was a quick read because I was trying to hurry up to get to the Bravo section, only to be let down. I was highly unimpressed with the book. Firstly, the writing level appeared to be catered toward the middle school crowd, there was a lot of moving around from story to story from different aspects of his life talking about life lessons he's learned. (And random bullet points.) He says it best in his book, he reached the age of 13 and never stopped maturing, that pretty surmises his biography. It's filled with a plethora of foot in the mouth moments which are highly cringe worthy and somewhat exploitative. Like the time he set up an interview with Oprah whose publicist refused two interviews, yet after the interview ended he kept the cameras rolling  but lied to both Paula Zahn (the interviewer) and Oprah that he was planning to use this section for his own segment he was producing. He spoke a lot of his tendency to speak out of line and ask inappropriate questions as he does now with the Housewives. (The first step is acknowledgement of your wrongs.)

I now see him in a different light. When I watch his talk show I feel like he's no longer the guy next door, my best friend, but just another media hound who is itching to get a story. He even spoke of an interview he did with Nicholas Sparks before The Notebook came out. While they were filming this documentary they have footage of Sparks getting a phone call that his father passed away. Cohen chose not to use the footage out of respect, but later regretted it saying it goes against journalist integrity. Sparks even thanked him later on in life, but I sensed that Andy's professional side weighed more than his respect side.

And last night I watched his talk show for the first time since finishing his book and I didn't find humor where I normally do. Jamie Lynn Sigler and Heather Dubrow were his guests and they were talking about Lydia from Real Housewives of OC and how her mother habitually smokes marijuana and did through her childhood.  It appeared Andy and JLS were making a joke of it and they even made the poll question if people cared if their mother smoked pot. I was highly upset that he would make light of something so dark in Lydia's life. We're not talking about a grown adult whose mother has taken up pot smoking recreationally in retirement. This is a woman whose mother was in an altered state for much of her childhood. If she were an alcoholic we wouldn't be making jokes about it. I'm not one to always see everything politically correct, I can take a joke, but I feel like this is a pattern by Cohen. Take anything and make a joke of it at the expense of others and for ratings for him.

Oh! And the main reason I read the book, to get some more dirt on Housewives, there was nothing there. Other than Cohen outing Jill Zarin as a lunatic, as we all knew and were just waiting for Cohen and his Switzerland stance on the  Housewives to acknowledge finally did.

Between his constant boasting about his popularity in high school and A-list meetings the only poignant part in the whole book were his relationships. He has such a strong bond with his family, his mother in particular, and he has kept his friendships since childhood which was an endearing theme throughout the book that contradicts his professional intentions, but is the part of him that will keep me watching his talk show. I love how he speaks of his mother and how he reads texts from her on his show and will acknowledge that his mother will be irritated with him after certain words that he says. Despite my frustrations with his obsession to earn ratings, the importance of his relationships shows that the tin man does have a heart, at least when it comes to his own family.

Andy Cohen and his book
Andy Cohen and SJP
Oprah and Paula Zahn
The Notebook
Lydia's mom
Jill Zarin
Andy Cohen and family

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