When the clock strikes 11 p.m. on weekdays, Andy Cohen appears on TV screens nationwide as the only host of the live night time TV talk show "Watch What Happens Live" on Bravo.
Cohen, 45, told the more than 500 people, mostly women, gathered at the 20th annual Women's Forum on Wednesday at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, how he was able to accomplish this. Cohen also is Bravo's executive vice president of development and talent, a position he has held since November 2011. As a Bravo executive, he was able to answer questions about the women's favorite Bravo shows, including "The Real Housewives" franchise.
Growing up in St. Louis, Cohen wanted to work in the television and used to watch soap operas, such as "All My Children."
Cohen, who left home and attended Boston University, had many internships and wanted to be in TV news. Cohen encouraged the children in the room, who attended as members of The First Tee Program, a nonprofit youth development program, to be interns and to try to get an internship at the production company of TV shows that they watch and like.
"There are many ways in," said Cohen about working in the television business.
Cohen's last internship was at CBS News in New York where he worked for 10 years. He spent part of the time working for the consumer unit for the "CBS Morning Show," when it was the lowest rated of all the morning shows. Cohen eventually became a producer at CBS News. Cohen left CBS News to work at a startup cable network called Trio in 2000. Trio was eventually taken over by NBCUniversal, which owns Bravo. Cohen started a blog for the Bravo website, and he began attracting attention.
"I started getting interviewed on CNN," Cohen said.
Cohen did at least 30 episodes of a web series for Bravo's reality TV show "Top Chef." Cohen also was the host of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" season two reunion special in 2007.
"I wasn't great. I wasn't awful," Cohen said.
From that, "Watch What Happens Live" started as a once-a-week show at midnight four years ago. The show started as an interactive program where fans could talk to the reality-TV stars of their favorite Bravo shows about what happened on the program that night. The show has evolved from once a week to five times a week for the past 18 months. It also has grown into a general pop culture show that has been able to attract such guests as Meryl Streep.
"I'm living my dream," Cohen said.
Brett Matik, the co-chair of the 2013 Women's Forum Committee, said Wednesday's event was the largest to date with more than 500 tickets sold at $125 each. The event netted more than $80,000 last year to benefit The First Tee Program. This year's forum already exceeded that amount, not including the silent auction, which was also held on Wednesday. Matik said she was the person who picked Cohen to be the keynote speaker at the forum.
"We always try to pick a good recognizable name," Matik said.
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