Andy and Anderson
An unlikely duo brings their conversations to A.C.
By Mary Lou Sheffield

They may be the most unlikely best friends – a reality television executive producer and CNN news anchor who are both super successful and widely popular. Yet the pair has captured audiences as two guys who seem approachable, friendly and, above all, fun. Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper have been taking their unique interview show to cities across the country. This month, they’ll appear at The Borgata in Atlantic City. 

“A lot of people come up and say, ‘I’d love to have a drink with you,’ and that’s really what this show is,” says Cooper, host of Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN.  

“We’re two friends hanging out with several thousand people in a theater telling funny stories. We want people to feel like they’re hanging out with us for the night.”    

The show’s nearly two-hour format opens with short video intros of the two celebs and continues with Cooper interviewing Cohen, known best for his Bravo “Real Housewives” franchise and as host of “Watch What Happens Live,” then Cohen interviewing Cooper. In between, the pair has a banter that is quick and lively. They share personal stories that are rarely heard, asking audience members not to tweet what they say.  

“People have been remarkably cool about not sharing stuff,” says Cooper.  

“We find people want something other than what they’re hearing every night on television. They’re coming for a night of entertainment. There’s a bar that’s open during the show, and people <i>may<i> have had a drink beforehand. This is not a lecture.” Both Cooper and Cohen have a bottle of tequila and glasses on the table between them, sipping – and re-filling – throughout the program. 

The idea for the series came after Cooper interviewed Cohen in front of a live audience at a New York Y to kick off Cohen’s book tour for “The Andy Cohen Diaries” in 2015. It was the first time the two stars presented their format of laid-back interview/two friends in conversation, and it was a hit.  

“My agent was in the crowd, and she was like, ‘You guys should take this on the road,’” Cooper says. 

One favorite story that has been shared on TV is how the two met: a friend of Cooper’s tried to set up the two on a blind date in 1995. Cooper had just moved back to New York from Los  

Angeles for a job at ABC News, and Cohen was a producer at “CBS This Morning.” Cooper called Cohen to possibly set a date but quickly decided that wasn’t going to happen. He told the story on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” 

“I knew within 45 seconds I was never going on a date with Andy Cohen. I imagined him on a Bluetooth headset, gesticulating, he was all excited. Andy violated my cardinal rule: he asked me about my mom within the first minute of talking to me,” said Cooper, whose mother is Gloria Vanderbilt. “And it wasn’t even a question. It was like, ‘Your mother’s Gloria Vanderbilt!’ And I thought, ‘Ok, this is not happening.” 

But the two unlikely friends developed a lasting platonic relationship that is now entertaining sold-out crowds at their live show.  

“I didn’t know what to expect at first or what the format would be, but it has evolved into what it is now,” Cooper says. “We like to top each other – what stories can I get Andy to tell, and how far will he go?” 

Since the success of their tour, the two have worked on other projects together, including hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve telecast this past year. (Cooper had previously hosted with comedian Kathy Griffin, but she was fired after her controversial photo of Donald Trump.) In a press tour promoting their Dec. 31 appearance, Cooper talked about the grueling schedule of the live show. 

“I’m actually exhausted after the show, because I’m an introvert. I go into hibernation for days afterward. It’s so not what I normally do. Andy likes doing the show because it’s like hanging out with the best me for two hours. Afterward, I go back to the hotel, and he’s excited to go out after the show.” 

But Cooper stresses that what you see on stage is real. “What I think is true of Andy is true of me,” he adds, “which is that the person one sees on TV is pretty close to who we actually are…with Andy in particular, he’s the same as he has been since he was 7 years old. He’s been obsessed with pop culture and celebrity and fame, so it’s amazing that what he does now is what he’s always dreamed of doing.”  

AC2 Live begins at The Borgata in Atlantic City on May 5 at 8 pm. 

May 2018
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