Andy Cohen is mixing business with pleasure. The longtime Bravo exec, producer, Real Housewives guru, author, and SiriusXM radio host has another egg in his basket as host of Fox’s Love Connection. Cohen’s already busy enough, but this could be his perfect job — so it’s no wonder he made room for it in his already packed schedule.
The revamped ‘80s/’90s dating show, this time produced by Bachelor mastermind Mike Fleiss, has some similar elements to the original, but the differences are significant. The new version will include gay and lesbian contestants, a first-impression rating system, and a monetary twist that will prove once and for all who’s on the show for the right reasons (or not). And the series is off to a promising start: The May 25 series premiere helped Fox earn its first Thursday night ratings win in a year.
We caught up with Cohen to get the scoop on the Love Connection revival, the future of his flagship late night show, Watch What Happens Live (the Big Apple-based chat fest just ended its first weeklong residency in Los Angeles), and his biggest tip on what not to do on a blind date.
Yahoo TV: What made you want to host the Love Connection reboot? Were you a fan of Chuck Woolery’s version of the show?
Andy Cohen: Major fan of the original, which is part of the reason I wanted to do it. And also it just seems to be the perfect show for me. I love asking personal questions, and I love hearing about people’s first dates. I love asking awkward questions.
Viewers love that about you! What’s the biggest difference between the reboot and the original?
The great news is what’s similar is the he-said, she-said behind the first date. That is timeless. In terms of what’s different, we have people rate each other based on their first impressions of each other’s looks. That’s different. And it’s hilarious that I reveal the results to the folks. Also, there’s a love-or-money situation at the end of every episode: If the audience chooses someone different from the dater’s love connection, then [the contestant] can decide between either an overnight date with their love connection, or $10,000 to go with the audience pick. And it’s great because most people pick love over money.
Why do you think viewers are nostalgic for something as “old-fashioned” as blind dates?
I think in this day and age where people are swiping each other so fast, and not giving each other a chance, there’s something that still works about being set up on a blind date and actually getting to know someone. It seems really old-fashioned, but it works.
What are your best do’s and don’ts for people who want to look for love on Love Connection?
Show up on time. Show up clean. Get to know the person you’re on the date with; don’t just talk about yourself the whole time. And stay off your phone on the date.
Do you have any embarrassing or funny dating stories of your own?
I was set up on a blind date with Anderson Cooper once, but we never made it past the date because he could tell that I was gesticulating wildly on the telephone, and he found that distasteful.
How did you like doing Watch What Happens Live from L.A. last week? How different was it to do the show with such a big audience?
It was just so much energy, I loved it. It was very energizing for the staff. … I’d love to go back to L.A. now that we have been there once.
You’re famous for getting people to reveal things about themselves on WWHL — and, of course, the alcohol helps. What do you do when a guest doesn’t want to drink? Do you have any tricks for getting people to open up without alcohol?
Oh, sure. I mean, if they’re there, they probably already have a sense of what the show is and what they signed up for. It’s like before you go on Howard Stern you have a sense of what the tenor of the conversation is going to be. I don’t want anyone leaving mad. I’m a very co-dependent person, so I definitely — I think it comes across that I’m in their corner.
What can you tell us about the upcoming syndicated version of Watch What Happens Live? Is it a sanitized version of the late night show?
It’s a test run. I’m really excited about it. It’s pretty much the late night show. Not sanitized.
In your latest book, Superficial, you dish in detail about your celebrity friends. Do you ever leave anything out because it’s maybe a little too personal?
Yes. I definitely do. I would like to keep my friends.
Love Connection airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.
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