Most Talkative by Andy Cohen
Published by St. Martin's Griffin ISBN 978125003464
Trade paperback, $14.99, 304 pages
I first saw Andy Cohen when he hosted the reunion show for Bravo TV's Flipping Out, a reality show about house flipper/designer Jeff Lewis. I wondered who this Cohen guy was and from where he came.
Cohen is an executive at Bravo TV, and besides foisting on the American people The Real Housewives of (insert one of many cities here), he also hosts Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, a crazy nightly talk show that has counted among its guests Jerry Seinfeld, Ralph Fiennes, Holly Hunter and every real housewife. Oh and they frequently drink on that show, so it's hilarious.
I confess that I used watch the Housewives franchise (NY, NJ, Atlanta, Beverly Hills), but it began to consume me, so I gave it up. (I still like Flipping Out.) I won a copy of Cohen's memoir, Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture, and I have to say I was utterly charmed by this book.
He begins by recounting his interview with Susan Lucci, (Erica Kane of All My Children, Cohen's and his mother Evelyn's favorite soap opera) while a student at Boston University at the time. He also ends his book with another Lucci encounter, and it is the perfect way to bookend his pop culture life story.
Cohen interned at CBS News, and ended up working on CBS This Morning for a decade. The show was the lowest rated of the morning shows, but I found this section of the book the most interesting. His story about accompanying Dan Rather on a story about western wildfires was fascinating, although I recently read Rather's latest memoir and Cohen is sadly not in it.
There are lots of pop culture references here, including Cohen's obsession with Oprah Winfrey and the few times he got her to agree to interviews did not go well. He has his own Ah-ha moment when he learns that trying to trick Oprah is a big mistake.
Fans of the Housewives shows will be enthralled by his chapter on hosting the reunion shows. He gives the reader the inside scoop, and even though I swore off the Housewives, I admit to enjoying this chapter immensely.
Cohen's love for Battle of the Network Stars took me back to my childhood and love of the show. He even tried to emulate it with Bravo's version, Battle of the Reality Stars, which didn't take off (and that is probably a good thing.)
There are some serious moments here too, and Cohen struggling with telling his friends and family that he is gay really tugs at the heartstrings. I think anyone who is going through the same thing (or has gone through it) will get something from this book.
The only chapter that fell flat for me was the one about pulling pranks on his mother with his best friend; that was the only miss in this delightful book.
The book is very funny, reading it is like sitting down and listening to Cohen tell you his life story, warts and all. You can hear his distinctive voice and see his head tilting in your mind as you read of his delightful walk through pop culture. I think the audio version of this book would be amazing.
rating 4 of 5