Andy Cohen may have single-handedly changed the trajectory of television with The Real Housewives franchise. After The Real Housewives of Orange County launched in 2006, numerous other cities have gotten their own versions and have continued the long tradition of spawning memes, gifs, shady phrases, and of course, controversy. The long-running Bravo series has also offered its stars a platform to promote their own products and make them multimillionaires (hello, Bethenny Frankel!). In 2009, Bravo exec Cohen also became the first openly gay late-night host on Watch What Happens Live, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Basically, GQ dubbed Cohen the “Drama King” for good reason back in 2012. Similarly, The Washington Post called him a “ringmaster” of “celebrity culture” and a “gleeful scholar of the intersection of social media, reality TV and gossip.” However, as a head honcho at Bravo, it seems Cohen hasn’t always left the best impression — having found himself at the receiving end of some seriously salacious accusations from the celebs he’s encountered through his shows or those he’s allegedly slighted in varying ways over the years.
Nonetheless, Cohen’s remained a mainstay in pop culture, with WWHL maintaining its role as a place where the rich and famous come to spill some of their hottest tea. Let’s dive into the shady side of Andy Cohen.
Why Tituss Burgess called Andy Cohen a 'messy queen'
Of all the Watch What Happens Live interviews to go awry, we never expected that Tituss Burgess’ appearance would result in a kerfuffle. However, he and Andy Cohen just didn’t gel when Burgess visited in July 2019 to promote his film, Dolomite is My Name, in which he starred with Eddie Murphy. Things took a turn when Cohen asked if Burgess got to “chat” with the comedian, since he’d been “problematic for the gays at one point” — a reference to Murphy’s use to gay slurs in homophobic stand-up jokes about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the ’80s (for which he later apologized).
“He wasn’t problematic for Tituss,” Burgess snapped back. “We had a wonderful time … Any troubles he may have had with gay people I guess are gone, because he loved me.” After the très awkward interview, the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star aired out his grievances in a since-deleted Instagram comment, writing in part (via People), “She can be a messy queen! … [Cohen’s show is] NOT a place to rehash old rumors or bring a star negative press.”
Cohen later revealed on his SiriusXM show (via People), “He wasn’t having me. What can I tell you? From the jump. I was trying, but no idea … He made an entertaining show, I’ll tell you that. Sometimes it’s fun to watch the show when the guest hates the host.” When asked if the two were officially feuding, Cohen told Access, “He might be, I’m not.”
Andy Cohen's long-running beef with Kathy Griffin
No one loves Mariah Carey’s “I don’t know her” quip quite like Andy Cohen. However, when he quoted the singer in response to TMZ asking about Kathy Griffin in 2017, it didn’t go well. But let’s back-track a bit. Cohen and Griffin previously worked together on Bravo’s My Life on the D-List. In May 2017, Griffin infamously posed with a bloody replica of then-President Donald Trump’s decapitated head. The resulting backlash temporarily derailed her career and cost her several high-profile gigs.
That October, Cohen was named as her replacement on CNN’s New Year’s Eve special. Cue the “I don’t know her” video going viral — Cohen claimed it was a joke, but Griffin wasn’t having it. “Was my boss for 10 years. Treated me like a dog. Deeply misogynistic,” Griffin tweeted in response. She lobbied other serious allegations toward Cohen, claiming he asked if she “wanted to do blow” whenever she appeared on WWHL. Cohen vehemently denied this. During her 2019 appearance on PEOPLE Now, Griffin had some more choice words for the Bravo exec: “He was, like, one of the worst bosses I ever had. The guy decides the entire slate at Bravo and yet, he gave himself a talk show that magically gets renewed every year.”
For his part, Cohen simply told USA Today, “She’s made up a lot of stuff about me in the past few years that has just been untrue and sad. I hope she finds some peace.”
Andy Cohen vs. Jillian Michaels
Andy Cohen and Jillian Michaels didn’t click from the get go — and though it seems they’ll never see eye-to-eye, one thing they’ve both agreed on is the fact that the famed trainer’s 2013 appearance on WWHL was a disaster. Soon after, Cohen revealed that Michaels was the show’s worst guest, saying (via Us Weekly), “She freaked out after the show and was so mean to my staff.”
Meanwhile, the appearance left such a bad taste in Michaels’ mouth that she went on to say some scathing comments about Cohen and The Real Housewives franchise in 2018. “It’s like [the franchise] was created by someone that hates women,” she claimed to Life & Style. “I mean, the guy hates them. He’s an a**hole.” The following year, Michaels characterized Cohen’s demeanor as “extremely rude … condescending and unprofessional” to Us Weekly. “We’ve not been friendly for years. I did his show once and it was a really awful experience,” she added. “… I thought when we met that we were gonna be, like, gay homies.”
Never one to take a beating while lying down, Cohen urged The Biggest Loser alum to “stay in her own lane” regarding his franchise, and threw a jab of his own on a 2019 episode of WWHL, after Michaels vocalized her belief to Women’s Health that the keto diet was a “bad plan for a million reasons.” Cohen’s response? “Don’t feel bad, keto diet, a lot of people think Jillian Michaels is a bad idea.” Yikes.
Andy Cohen's fallout with NeNe Leakes
In September 2020, NeNe Leakes announced that she would not be returning to The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Though it didn’t sound as though she and Bravo ended on squeaky clean terms, her departure seemed somewhat amicable. “I have been on an extremely long, exhausting, tiring, emotional negotiation,” Leakes announced on YouTube. Calling it a “very hard and difficult decision,” she thanked Bravo for the opportunity.
Cohen later took to Instagram and sang the reality TV star’s praises, calling Leakes “an icon of the genre.” However, things took a turn when pal Wendy Williams appeared on an episode of WWHL and had some pretty nasty things to say about Leakes, claiming that her departure was meant to incite “dramatic attention” and that she’d be back on RHOA because a spinoff would be “boring.” Oof.
Naturally, Leakes was offended and took Twitter to launch a tirade of fury toward both parties — calling Williams a “cocaine head” and accusing Cohen of being an “ole racist.” She added, “No one knew you until YOU knew me. Remember I’m ICON. Don’t forget.” While Cohen never responded to these claims, Leakes wasn’t quite finished. “The racist is the master manipulator!” she wrote in a follow-up tweet, before also going after other Bravo execs. “They using me for ratings like they have always done.” Leakes continued, “I was the ONLY BLACK OG. My white counter parts were elevated and given full season episodes EVERY season. Each season i was given less & less.”
Did Andy Cohen throw shade at Monique Samuels?
One of the biggest topics in the Bravo universe was the physical altercation that occurred between The Real Housewives of Potomac castmates Monique Samuels and Candiace Dillard-Bassett during a Season 5 episode, stemming from a rumor about Samuels’ son, Chase, not being her husband’s child. Per People, Samuels pulled Dillard-Bassett’s hair and struck her head; Dillard-Bassett threw a wine glass in Samuels’ face. Fans were polarized — some saying Dillard-Bassett asked for the dragging she got, while others said physically assaulting someone is always out of bounds.
By the time the reunion aired in December 2020, temperatures had reached a fever pitch, and fans couldn’t wait to see the two ladies come face-to-face for the first time. However, as the reunion episodes unfolded, it seemed as though Cohen was completely excusing Dillard-Bassett’s behavior and placing the entire altercation solely on Samuels … and fans were not happy. The franchise’s founder got major blow back from viewers who thought he wasn’t being impartial.
In a January 2021 episode of WWHL, however, Cohen, assured fans that not everything that transpired at the reunion was filmed. “I have to say, I was really pushing for this to be four parts. I really talked to Candiace a lot about her role in this and the fact that … a lot of people think that she provoked it, and she said ‘drag me,'” Cohen explained. “… I don’t think enough of that made it in the show, clearly.”
Did Andy Cohen bar Carole Radziwill from his Christmas Party?
Carole Radziwill’s discontent with Andy Cohen came to a head during the explosive Season 10 reunion, when she went head-to-head with another The Real Housewives of New York City giant, Bethenny Frankel. Radziwill felt as though Cohen chose Frankel’s side over hers following the dramatic demise of their friendship — memorably telling the host he’s “full of s**t” and ultimately leaving the show in 2018. Cohen later called her reaction “very Trumpian.” Ouch.
“There was no checking [Bethenny] at that reunion,” Radziwill said on Heather McDonald’s Juicy Scoop podcast. “You didn’t see a tenth of what happened because they edited it down. I mean we filmed for like 10 hours.” But it seems as though the TV host began distancing himself from her long before. Radziwill and Cohen had mutual friends prior to her joining the show in 2012, and she was often a guest at his Christmas parties. Though Cohen has a strict no-Housewives policy, Radziwill was still on the guest list until she became chummy with Frankel, explaining, “He couldn’t invite me and then not her.”
Cohen didn’t seem at all surprised by Radziwill’s discontent with him, admitting on Brandi Glanville Unfiltered in 2020, “She’s angry towards the show in general, and me … She felt like I was up Bethenny’s a**.” He added, “I think that didn’t end in a way that I would’ve hoped … I think we had genuine [care] for each other.”
Andy Cohen and the ageism debacle
January 2020 saw the departure of two Housewives OGs and allegations of ageism, to boot. The Real Housewives of Orange County said goodbye to Tamra Judge and Vicki Gunvalson merely a day apart. Six months later, Judge alluded on the BEHIND THE VELVET ROPE podcast that there was “some truth” to the discrimination rumors surrounding the show. “I had some friends try out for the show … and they were told by the casting people … that [Bravo wants] to have younger housewives,” she told host David Yontef. “It shows … The ones that they’ve hired have all been younger.” Gunvalson made similar claims on her Whoop It Up with Vicki podcast.
Former The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville caught wind of the sound bites and put a little spin on it, telling Andy Cohen that both Judge and Gunvalson had accused him of being ageist. “That’s weird, because Ramona [Singer] is older than Vicki. The women on our shows … are really thriving in their 50s and late 50s,” Cohen explained on Brandi Glanville Unfiltered. “Yea, no. I don’t care for that.”
In true Housewives fashion, Glanville’s episode made it back to both Judge and Gunvalson, who denied ever calling Cohen himself an ageist. “I’ve never talked to Brandi in my life,” Gunvalson told Reality Blurb!. “So I don’t know where she got that from.” Judge also piped up, telling CELEB, “I did not say Andy fired me due to my age. That’s just ridiculous.”
Andy Cohen's not-so-friendly exchanges with Jeff Lewis
After Bravo axed Jeff Lewis’ contract for Flipping Out in October 2018, he took to Instagram to make a jokey-joke about his termination. The TV personality posted a picture of himself standing in front of white board that had, “your 15 minutes are up,” “loser” and “better luck with radio,” written on it. He also captioned the pic with, “I guess there’s no going away party @bravotv.”
Andy Cohen took the stunt as a dig at Bravo and checked Lewis in a text message thread the latter read on his radio show (via People). “Looks to me like you’re vilifying the network,” Cohen allegedly wrote in part. “Maybe you want to let competitors know you are open for business.” Lewis maintained the photo was meant to be taken lightly.
A year later, the pair had another exchange over the radio waves, when Lewis confronted Cohen about a recurring joke the Bravo exec made about how he’d love to date Lewis’ ex-boyfriend, Gage Edward. However, Cohen made the joke once again after the pair had broken up in 2019 — and Lewis wasn’t happy. Cue Cohen issuing a seemingly shady apology. “I’m sorry … It was in my mind that I had stopped the second it was over,” Cohen stated, adding, “It’s not like I’ve actually DM-ed Gage or actually tried to make anything happen … It would certainly be no longer a joke if I followed through on it. I mean, that would be diabolical, wouldn’t you say?”
Andy Cohen's failed date with Anderson 'Vanderbilt Boy' Cooper
Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper have been BFFs for decades now — however, their friendship had a bit of a rocky start. It seems Cohen’s fascination with Cooper’s mother, artist and heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, rubbed the CNN anchor the wrong way from jump. Before the pair even went on the blind date that was to be their first meeting, Cooper had already axed out Cohen as a potential suitor.
“We had a phone call to set up the date … and I knew within 45 seconds I was never going on a date with Andy Cohen,” Cooper stated when the two appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2017. “I imagined him in a bluetooth headset, like, gesticulating. He was all excited, and he violated my cardinal rule, which is: He asked me about my mom within the first minute of talking to me.” With no shame in his game, Cohen quipped, “I wanted to date the Vanderbilt boy! … I remember that something that I did made him shut down, so now I know.”
Though Cohen and Cooper have always said that nothing romantic ever happened between them over the tenure of their friendship, they have provided us with swoon-worthy moments regardless.
Andy Cohen's celebrity blacklist
It’s no secret that Andy Cohen loves him some juicy celebrity gossip. The famed host has managed to get stars to reveal some pretty top-tier secrets during the “Plead the Fifth” segment of his nightly show — so when guests come with too many stipulations, it’s only natural that it loses the zest it’s known for. What’s quite surprising, though, is the fact that Cohen keeps a persona non grata list of guests that won’t be making anymore appearances on Watch What Happens Live.
“There are a few people. And you would be surprised, there are a few people who we have deemed not worth the trouble,” he told AOL Lifestyle in 2019. “Like, ‘you can’t talk about this’ and ‘you can’t ask about that.’ Or there are a couple people who have been on the show that we deem too annoying to come back.”
Though he decided to exercise his own fifth amendment right when it came to directly naming names, Cohen previously revealed — in addition to Jillian Michaels, of course — that Amber Rose was one of his least favorite guests on the popular show. He told Vulture, “When Amber Rose was on, she wore sunglasses. She was not up for my tomfoolery. I remember asking her questions and she was like, ‘I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t want to talk about that.’ It was not a good fit. I just don’t think it was the show for her.”
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