With his firm hand on the helm of the vast Bravo experiment—from the inescapable and seemingly infinite Real Housewives franchise to his own late-night talk show Watch What Happens: Live—it’s more than clear that Andy Cohen is one of the most powerful forces in pop culture. Now, his influence is set to grow even further, with the announcement last week that publisher Henry Holt & Co is providing Cohen with the ultimate celebrity vanity project: his own publishing imprint.
Under the newly-formed Andy Cohen Books, the reality mogul and television star will publish his own work and, per Cohen in a statement, “best-selling books written by many of the people I know who are primed to hit it out of the park.” His latest book, Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaires, goes on sale November 15. I’ve no doubt that he knows precisely what he’s doing. Writing, Cohen says, is a “not-so-secret passion,” and his own previous efforts in the publishing biz—specifically the previous installment of what purports to be a personal journal, The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year—bears that out.
As I’ve written before, Cohen has a breezy authorial voice, and is witty enough about his own vapidity—the name-drops; the meticulously amusing yet self-flagellating way he describes in his endless quest to get into better shape; his touching and evolving relationship with his beloved adopted beagle mix, Wacha (what can I say? I’m a sucker for a dog story)—for his diaries to prove a suitable, modern-day successor to Andy Warhol, whose purposefully mundane accounts of his star-studded but otherwise everyday life (complete with the exact accounting of taxi fares and uptown meal tips) served as Cohen’s inspiration. (If Andy Cohen, the college-educated yuppie-ish scion of upper-middle-class St. Louis Jews is not quite as interesting as Andy Warhol, the shy and vaguely unsightly genius-son of working-class Pittsburgh Ruthenian immigrants, well, then I guess we live in less artistically interesting times.)
My point is that Andy Cohen is the kind of person who surprises you with how erudite he can be. (As an exercise, imagine asking, say, Ramona Singer what she thinks of the conceptual art movement of the 1960’s and see what kind of blank, bug-eyed stare you get). And now that he has a foothold in the book world, I hope he does something real with it.
I expect, along with everybody, a flurry of Housewives book products in which pampered yet still desperate woman order underpaid ghost writers to pithily summarize their skin care regimens and barely veiled personal traumas for the ironically amused and functionally illiterate. But it would also be great to see Andy Cohen use his unerring nose for the next big thing to give a platform to the great undiscovered writers and artists of tomorrow.
For every six-figure advance he doles out to a Bravolebrity, how about another to a future Karen Russell or Donna Tartt. For every cookbook or glossy “fashion advice” monograph by a woman in a statement necklace, how about a monograph for the next Kara Walker or Cindy Sherman? One for them, one for you, as the Hollywood expression goes. It’s just the kind of high-low dichotomy the other Andy would have appreciated.
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