Already a producer and executive for cable's popular Bravo network, Andy Cohen thought about his own potential to be an entertaining and engaging talk show host after he left CBS for his new cable position in 2005.
By 2009, he was both in front of the camera and still the camera voice behind the lens when he was given his own 30-minute chat show called "Watch What Happens Live."
The St. Louis native with the boy-next-door smile and premature gray hair is now a household name.
A year ago, he wrote a fun and biographical juicy breezy read autobiography called "Most Talkative: Stories from the front lines of Pop Culture" (2012 Holt Press $25). The 276-page hardcover includes tales from 44-year-old Cohen and the ever-changing world of broadcast. From his silly college-day obsessions like interviewing actress Susan Lucci and watching soap operas like "Young and the Restless" to meeting names like Joan Collins and Tammy Faye Bakker and making Oprah Winfrey upset, I admit reading Cohen's book was one of my favorite guilty pleasures last summer.
Cohen is signing copies of his book Wednesday at Macy's on State Street in Chicago from noon to 2 p.m. and Barnes and Noble at Old Orchard Mall in Skokie from 7 to 9 p.m.
Especially interesting were the chapters detailing his earlier producer career days at CBS working for the "CBS This Morning" program with our local-claim-to-fame newsman Harry Smith, who is from Lansing.
One of his stories details covering the floods that devastated Missouri in 1993. Cohen was sent to arrive prior to Smith so "advanced interviews" could be arranged prior the anchor taping on location broadcasts. Here's what happened:
"I was sitting on the curb in the middle of town talking on what was probably a brick-sized cellphone and I looked up to see Harry, normally one of the sunniest and most decent people in the business, towering over me. He said he didn't like the guests I had booked for the next day's show and told me to un-book them. He paused and glowered at me: 'You're putting out really bad energy. It's all wrong, sitting down on the ground on your phone while other people are going through this mess and working all around you.' Later I was happily editing my footage in a remote truck that we were working out of somewhere near Jefferson City when, around midnight, the door of the truck opened and Harry grabbed me. 'I have a big favor to ask you,' he said. 'I beg you to get me a toothbrush. Can you? I have to go to sleep and I don't know where to look for one, and I don't know anyone else to ask. I will be forever indebted.' A TOOTHBRUSH? I drove around like a maniac, cursing at the top of my lungs, looking for an open gas station. I finally found one and drove back. When we arrived to the airport the next day, Harry shocked me by turning to me and acknowledging: 'I'm sorry I yelled at you at the fire station, I was a putz.' Harry was, and is, a truly good guy, and working with him reminded me of why I loved this business. In a galaxy of journalists who pretend to be folksy and of the people, Harry is the real deal."