One night last year, openly gay talk show host and Bravo network mastermind Andy Cohen was on a promotional tour for his second book, “The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year,” when he found himself being interviewed by longtime friend and openly gay CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in a New York theater. Something clicked.
“He was interviewing me about my book and it was just great, we were in front of this theater of a thousand people,” Cohen tells Georgia Voice from his New York home. “It was a magical night and we said it would be fun to develop into a show.”
That idea turned into “AC²: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen—Deep Talk and Shallow Tales,” the tour that has taken them through Boston, Miami and Chicago and hits the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on June 20.
From blind date to just friends
Cooper and Cohen first crossed paths back in the early 1990s when they were set up on a blind date that never happened. Cohen didn’t know the reason it never happened until Cooper revealed it at a recent show on their tour.
“He says I was too ‘enthusiastic’ on the phone for him. I thought the phone call was kind of good, I didn’t realize the real reason the date didn’t happen,” Cohen reveals. “We became great friends instead.”
While many would assume the two bonded over being high profile gay men and television personalities, that isn’t exactly the case, with the majority of Cohen’s career occurring behind the scenes, as a producer for various CBS news programs and, later, as a producer for Bravo hits like “Top Chef” and the “Real Housewives” franchise.
“Most of our friendship I have been totally unknown. I just got in front of the camera seven years ago or so,” Cohen says. “He’s been a great resource and friend to me. He’s been a good sounding board for me. Our friendship has just been our friendship, it hasn’t had much to do with being in front of the camera.”
Of course, now it’s hard to miss Cohen, whether he’s hosting his talk show “Watch What Happens Live” or hosting (or more accurately, refereeing) the numerous “Real Housewives” reunion shows.
‘We’re naming names and telling stories’
As for what to expect when the two hit the stage later this month, it begins with the pair interviewing each other on a variety of topics.
“We’re great friends, we have really good chemistry and a rapport with each other and we’re kind of dangerous because we get a lot out of each other,” Cohen says. “You’re kind of eavesdropping on the two of us really dishing. We’re naming names and telling stories. I get him really going on stuff and he gets me going on it.”
Then they open things up to the audience for a Q and A, and audience members in other cities so far have not held back.
“Someone asked me how big my dick was!” Cohen says, laughing.
So the “shallow tales” referred to in the subtitle are covered, but what about the “deep talk”? Look to Cooper.
“Anderson has a really interesting background. He lost his dad when he was 10 and his brother committed suicide when he was 17 or 18 and he’s had a fascinating life and interviewed everybody and spent most of the time on the front lines,” Cohen says. “That’s where most of the deep talk comes from is him, not me.”
Regardless, as those who have witnessed Cooper’s occasional giggle fits on CNN will attest to, the man has a funny side.
It’s the kind of project that marks another notch in Cohen’s increasingly varied career in recent years, including a hit talk show, two bestselling books and a national tour.
“This is just a joyful thing, a great thing that came together totally organically. Everything good that’s happened to me has happened organically,” Cohen says. “The book led to Anderson interviewing me leading to this tour. I’m a firm believer in never plotting.”
And as to whether “Real Housewives” fans can expect an appearance at the Cobb Energy Centre from one of their favorites?
“The reunion is already shot, but you never know who will show up.”
AC²: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen—Deep Talk and Shallow Tales
Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 8 p.m.
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre