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Andy Cohen on his latest adventure as the father of two kids


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

William Brangham: Best known as a talk show host and the bright and shining face of Bravo TV, Andy Cohen is opening up in a new book about his latest adventure, life as the father of two kids.

Amna Nawaz has that conversation.

Amna Nawaz: Before he oversaw a reality TV empire, Andy Cohen grew up in St. Louis and worked as a producer at CBS News, later landing as a programming executive at Bravo TV, where he helped launch the popular "Real Housewives" franchise.

Woman: I don't have an issue with you. I never had an issue with you.

Amna Nawaz: In its 17 years on the air, the brand stretched to more than 10 cities, reaching millions of fans.

Cohen first stepped in front of the camera in 2009, hosting the late-night talk "Watch What Happens Live," known for its celebrity guests, boozy moments, and spilling secrets.

Andy Cohen, Author, "The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up": What is the hardest drug?

Amna Nawaz: His profile has only grown.

Andy Cohen: That just seems like an odd thing to say.

Amna Nawaz: Hosting the network's reunion specials, launching his own radio channel on SiriusXM and writing a series of bestselling books. His latest, "The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up," chronicles his day-to-day life and celebrity run-ins in the year he welcomed daughter Lucy to his family, joining his son, Ben.

We recently sat down to talk about family, work, and what made him want to write another book..

Andy Cohen: I love writing. It's my fifth book. It's my third installment of the "Andy Cohen Diaries" series, which was inspired by Andy Warhol's diaries, which I absolutely loved, which are very name-droppy.

They're very celebrity-heavy, and they are very much New York stories. And this is all that with the overlay of having two kids as a single dad.

Amna Nawaz: Anyone who follows you online has seen your beautiful family. But tell us tell us about your kids.

Andy Cohen: My kids are great. They are 4 and 1. The 4-year-old loves being an older brother. I was writing the book during everyone says terrible 2's, but its really terrible 3's.

Amna Nawaz: Three is worse than 2?

Andy Cohen: Terrible.

Amna Nawaz: Three is like a professional 2-year-old.

Andy Cohen: Exactly.

Amna Nawaz: Yes.

Andy Cohen: Very -- yes.

Amna Nawaz: Yes.

Andy Cohen: So we have some knock-down drag-outs during the summer months of "The Daddy Diaries."

Vacation is over, OK?

I know my way around a group of real housewives, which can be infuriating and exhausting.

You can't get off the couch, OK? Is that a deal?

So, you know what? I jumped right into toddler fits.

Amna Nawaz: Not that dissimilar.

Andy Cohen: Exactly. You just let it play out.

Amna Nawaz: You write about the decision to have kids in the first place. You talk -- you refer to this is the year that you grew up.

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: How are you different now than you were before?

Andy Cohen: Oh, my gosh.

Starting in the happy way, I mean, I'm just more grounded of a person. When you publish your diaries, you really look at what you do every day and say, OK, this is my life, or this is my life that I'm putting out there for consumption.

And I got to the point where I thought, is this all there is? It's fun. Everything is really fun. But I wanted to be grounded.

Amna Nawaz: You have also said your book is a bit of a statement on sort of pop culture in the year 2022...

Andy Cohen: Yes, I think so.

Amna Nawaz: ... and how much things have changed. There's one line in the book where you say: "Housewives are often are offensive on some level, but the line has moved over 16 years."

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: How has it moved?

Andy Cohen: Well, producing a show about a group of politically incorrect, outspoken women...

Woman: That's my opinion!

Andy Cohen: ... in 2023, in the age of cancel culture and people being offended by things you didn't know you could be offended by is a challenge. And so it has changed a lot.

Amna Nawaz: Just the brand itself, which is now very much an empire...

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: ... it has changed so much since the first season.

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: They were living in town houses. They were not their own celebrity brands.

Now they are full glam. You have a huge convention with thousands of people. They are their own celebrities because of the show.

Andy Cohen: Yes. Yes.

Amna Nawaz: Why do you think we have this fascination with this kind of television, these shows?

Andy Cohen: I think it is the modern soap opera. It is the soap opera of our time. I know that people who don't watch it, it's very easy to look at the clips and have a judgment.

Amna Nawaz: Yes.

Andy Cohen: But I think that the reason its still on the air is that it's about friendship and motherhood and being a wife and a sister and family, and a whole lot more.

And there are things that ground it in relatability. It's also sometimes very aspirational. If it was just a drink toss or an offensive comment, it would not still be on the air, I promise. Like, there's no way.

Amna Nawaz: Would you let your kids watch the show one day?

Andy Cohen: Eventually, absolutely.

Amna Nawaz: Yes?

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: Would you ever let them star in their own reality show?

Andy Cohen: I would prefer that they not.


Andy Cohen: And, by the way, the -- people always say to me, would you ever star on a reality show?

Amna Nawaz: Yes.

Andy Cohen: This is as close as I would get.

Amna Nawaz: Yes.

Andy Cohen: This is a year in my life, but I am in control of the edit.

Amna Nawaz: Did you edit yourself a lot in this?

Andy Cohen: I edited myself, but I also pushed myself.

Amna Nawaz: Yes.

Andy Cohen: This is my fifth book. And I know -- and I learned in my first book you have to push yourself. This is the most vulnerable I have ever been in a book.

Amna Nawaz: I got to ask this, too, because you, in the reunions you host with these housewives and your own show on "Watch What Happens Live," you are a very skilled interviewer.

Andy Cohen: Thank you.

Amna Nawaz: Because you know how to get people to share things that they probably wouldn't share otherwise.

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: What makes a good interview for you? How do you do that?

Andy Cohen: So, I was a producer at CBS News. So I not only learned how to produce an interview, but I learned how much time four-and-a-half minutes of TV time is, when they're telling me in my ear.

That's actually a lot of time to get something out of someone. So, that was important training for me. But, also, I think a genuine curiosity is important.

Amna Nawaz: It does give you a platform to talk about other things that you really care about too.

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: You talk about LGBTQ rights. You talk about politics.

Andy Cohen: This is one big dog whistle.

Amna Nawaz: Do you feel that's just something you want to do or do you feel like that's a responsibility right now?

Andy Cohen: Well, as a gay American and as a Jewish American, two groups really under fire right now, I feel like if there are issues facing my community, I speak up about it.

Never did I think that people would be fighting drag queens.

Amna Nawaz: Why do you think we're seeing that right now?

Andy Cohen: Well, I think it's a distraction from what's really going on, and it's a way to fire up on your base. Let's hate on the trans community and drag queens, two marginalized groups of people.

And, I'm sorry, but the biggest issue facing the world is not whether drag queens are performing. It's not an issue.

Amna Nawaz: You have talked about the heaviness too that comes with being a single father of the two.

Andy Cohen: Yes. Yes.

Amna Nawaz: What did you mean by that?

Andy Cohen: I think that's why I called it "The Year I Grew Up."

I'm a happy-go-lucky guy.

Amna Nawaz: Yes. That's clear.

Andy Cohen: But my resting mood when I wake up is happiness.

The weight of being a single father really hit me this year. I had been for three years before Lucy came. Now, suddenly, there are two. I just want to be everything to them.

Amna Nawaz: You did say: "I always felt light as a feather. This year, my feet feel firmly planted. I like how that feels."

It sounds like you're in a good place.

Andy Cohen: Yes.

Amna Nawaz: Are you ready for a third kid?

Andy Cohen: No. Oh, my God.


Andy Cohen: You're going to scare me out of "PBS NewsHour."


Andy Cohen: Are you kidding me? You are joking, right?


Amna Nawaz: We can talk about it later.

Andy Cohen: I'm dancing as fast as I can.

Amna Nawaz: Andy Cohen, author of "The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up," absolute pleasure. Thanks for coming.

Andy Cohen: Thank you so much. How fun.

William Brangham: You can hear more from Andy Cohen online with Amna's lightning round of questions, from his dream guest to his favorite president.

That's on our Instagram page.

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