By Jethro Nededog
Andy Cohen and Bravo have struck a new deal in which he’ll step down from his executive role at the network to continue as an on-air personality, as well as develop new programming under his own production company.
Effective as of 2014, Cohen will no longer hold the position of executive vice president for talent and development at Bravo. In turn, he has signed a two-year deal to continue hosting and executive-producing Bravo’s late night talk show, “Watch What Happens Live.”
He will also develop and produce new programming for the network under Most Talkative, his newly created production company, reported the New York Times.
Cohen told the paper that the move was an “inevitable transition” after the network decided to expand “Watch What Happens Live” to five nights a week two years ago.
“This is sort of freeing Andy from the corporate shackles,” Bravo’s president, Frances Berwick, said.
With Cohen’s departure from his executive duties, Vice President Lara Spotts will assume the role as head of Bravo’s development team. Spotts currently serves as Vice President, Development for Bravo and will now lead the scripted and non-scripted efforts on both the West and East Coast, reporting to Berwick.
Signs that Cohen hoped to dedicate more time to his on-air ventures began when his name was floated as a possible replacement for Regis Philbin on syndicated daytime talk show, “Live!,” as well as possible consideration for a role on NBC’s “Today” show. Both positions went to other people. Michael Strahan now co-hosts “Live” with Cohen’s friend, Kelly Ripa, while Ryan Seacrest and Carson Daly now contribute to “Today.”
Cohen joined Bravo in 2005 as senior vice president of original programming and development. Formerly, he produced for more than a decade at CBS News’ “The Early Show,” “48 Hours” and “CBS This Morning”
Though his credits include developing many of Bravo’s hit shows, his legacy will probably always lie mainly in bringing its estimated half-billion-dollar “Real Housewives” franchise to the network. Under the deal, he will remain an executive producer on the franchise’s series, as well as the host of its reunions and specials.
While it isn’t a barn-burner in the ratings, “Watch What Happens Live” has attracted some big names in the past few months, including Cher, Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey. The current season is averaging about 856,000 total viewers per episode, according to Bravo.
For the record: A previous version of this article stated that Cohen co-created his new production company with Michael Davies. And although the Times reported the change took effect on Wednesday, a Bravo rep said Cohen’s role change takes place in 2014.