If you want to see your favorite celebrities get a bit tipsy and start spilling tea about their famous friends and foes, then you know to tune into Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. The Bravo talk show prides itself on bringing fans the dirt on their celebrities that they really want — and there's a formula to making that happen.
Part of it is being live, and the second part is plying the guests with alcohol.
"We are the only live show in late night," Andy Cohen pointed out during the Watch What Happens Live panel at the Television Critics Association winter previews Tuesday. "I've done pretty much all the other late night shows and they tape around 5 p.m. in the afternoon. They often say, 'We have cocktails here if you'd like them.' I never really drink at 5 p.m., but if you're coming to my house at 11 p.m., the first thing I'm going to do is say, 'What you're drinking?' The next thing I'm going to do is ply you for information about your social life. So it's pretty much an authentic experience of coming over to my house at 11 o'clock."
The alcohol allows people to loosen up and to get the answers that most shows wouldn't be able to get from celebrity guests. "Certainly not everyone drinks, and not everyone drinks heavily," Cohen continued. "It just has different effects on different people."
The unique candor of Watch What Happens Live is what fans have come to expect from the Bravo show — and something the staff works hard to deliver. The celebrities themselves have also come to expect the tough questions that Cohen swings at them.
"I want everyone to leave happy about the experience. People do watch the show and [are] expecting me to go there with people and ask things that they want to know," Cohen said. "We have a tendency of getting things out of people that they wouldn't reveal on other late night shows. I think that's one of the perks of the show, frankly. When people come on the show, they expect that. They expect that conversation."
While Cohen and his staff will try to be sensitive if a celebrity tries to stonewall a certain conversation before the show, negotiations take place to make sure the interview is interesting. The show also refuses to prep the talent beforehand on the questions they'll be asked to ensure their reactions are organic. That's especially true for the Real Housewives guests, and it's a model Cohen took from his role model Howard Stern.
"Howard Stern is my broadcasting role model, basically," Cohen revealed. "He has his Wack Pack and he also interviews big stars. The Housewives are kind of like our Wack Pack, which also allows us to interview other people."
Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen! airs Sunday through Thursdays at 11/10c on Bravo.