The biggest gay honcho at the biggest gay network—Bravo, not Logo—took some time Tuesday to dish on Kim Zolciak, Kathy Griffin and Levi Johnston while he reflected on his upcoming award at Atlanta’s HRC Dinner.
Andy Cohen (top photo) will be one of the special guests at the 2010 Atlanta HRC Gala Dinner & Auction on May 1 at the Hyatt Regency. Ticket sales are brisk so far, about 50 or 60 ahead of last year’s pace, which ultimately brought 900 people to the annual event. You can buy yours now online.
Cohen will receive the National Visibility Award, and says positive representation of gay people in the media is one of the places that Bravo’s and HRC’s visions intersect.
“HRC and Bravo are like-minded,” he says. “HRC’s mission is America being a place where all gay men and lesbians and transgender people are full members of American society. Bravo portrays that world without editorialization and without fanfare.
“Bravo has had a great evolution in portraying gay people because they’re talented or interesting, not just because they’re gay,” Cohen adds. “We’ve always been really invested in showing just every color of the rainbow in terms of who people are rather than what they are.”
He cites Jeff Lewis, the OCD real estate investor on “Flipping Out,” past “Project Runway” winner Christian Siriano and Brad on “The Rachel Zoe Project” as examples of “people just living their lives who are really good at what they do, and their being gay is just presented matter-of-factly.”
As for his HRC Visibility Award at the Atlanta dinner, Cohen says he’s proud to be out as gay and that high-profile role models remain as “crazy important” as they were for him in his youth.
“I look back on being a teenager in St. Louis, and the only gay people were Charles Nelson Riley and Paul Lynde, and then being obsessed when ‘The Real World’ came on…,” he says. “So as we’ve gone on with more and more gay people on TV, I just can’t underestimate the power of positive images of gay people, gay people just being out there in society.”
Of course, as Vice President of Programming, Cohen was more than happy to talk dirt about some of our favorite Bravo stars and guests on his own “Watch What Happens Live” late night talk show.
He says he introduced “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member Kim Zolciak at the annual Splash party, and that she and DJ Tracy Young seemed “like they were in a groove” back then. Zolciak (second photo) announced her bisexuality in March, and two weeks later renounced the short-term affair with Young as a “one-time thing.” Of course, with her scattered public relations strategy, it could be on-again before you know it.
“Everything with Kim is very fluid, and bisexuality is fluid, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens on ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ Season 3,” Cohen says.
He won’t hint at the announced “new housewife” or any details of the season in production. Dammit.
Speaking of introducing people, we asked about rumors that Cohen is responsible for (Sarah Palin’s grandbaby daddy, bottom photo) Levi Johnston’s liturgy of gay fans.
“The gays had discovered Levi long before I came around. They had this crush on the kid when he walked out on that stage at the [Republican National Convention],” Cohen says. “What I will take credit for is starting a bidding war to get him to take off his clothes.”
The Bravo bigwig took a viewer question about posing nude, Johnston said it depended on the money, and “by Monday there was this bidding war to get him naked,” Cohen says, noting that Johnston became Cohen’s “Jackel of the Week” on the talk show for not offering full-frontal in the final shots (and here) that appeared in Playgirl.
“I was not happy about that,” Cohen says. “If you’re going to do it, go all the way,” like Bravo’s “Make Me A Supermodel” Ronnie Kroell is set to do.
Johnston will appear on an episode of next season’s “Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List,” Cohen reveals. Griffin is “a pussycat” and will have several celebrity guests in the run of her next season, he says.
Since Cohen normally comes to Atlanta to tape “Real Housewives” reunion shows, he’s glad to be visiting without “a pit in my stomach over what might happen.”
“I’m really psyched. I love the town, and every time I meet a guy from Atlanta, he’s really cute, so…”
Thanks, Andy; we’ll take that and look forward to meeting you. And look for more revelations from our interview with Cohen as the HRC dinner approaches.