Don’t call me yenta

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Jewish celebrity gossip roundup along with some colorful commentary by Cheryl Jacobs.

Don’t call me yenta

'Most Talkative,' a review of Bravo’s Andy Cohen’s new book

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If you've read some of my previous posts, then you're aware of my obsession with Bravo's reality TV series The Real Housewives. I watch every cast, including all the spinoffs and have since the beginning days of The Real Housewives of Orange County. I'm addicted to the shows and the wild antics of these women.

(Speaking of, have you checked out the new MOT housewives on New York yet? I like Aviva so far, but the jury is still out on Heather.)

But my favorite personality to emerge from the franchise is not actually one of the housewives; instead it's the guy who made them all famous: Andy Cohen. While today Cohen is known mainly as the guy behind the housewives and the host of kitschy late night show, Watch What Happens Live, Cohen has actually had a rather illustrious and impressive career in television. On a whim (I'd just finished 5,000+ pages of the Song of Fire and Ice series and needed something light) I recently picked up his new book, Most Talkative and gave it a whirl.

Cohen, in the easy conversational manner he uses as host of his show, breezes through his book discussing his childhood and how he came out of the closet, his early career at CBS and his obsession with Erica Kane and soap operas. There's not much behind-the-scenes dirt on the housewives that hasn't been published elsewhere, but nonetheless it was interesting going inside Cohen's head for a little while.

Cohen grew up in St Louis and deeply feels his Midwest, Jewish roots, which he makes clear throughout the book. Although he is no longer a Midwesterner - Cohen attended college in Boston and moved to New York City where he has remained. He always knew he wanted a career in television and has always been a fan of all things pop culture, particularly Days of Our Lives - no wonder he loves his housewives.

But Cohen's career in television didn't begin at Bravo or with reality TV. I was more than a little surprised to learn that he spent 10 years at CBS News, eventually serving as senior producer of The Early Show and also served as a producer for the network's 48 Hours and for CBS This Morning. In fact, he's won an Emmy and two Peabody awards for his work. Ok, the Emmy he won for Top Chef, but still very impressive.

The book focuses mainly on his early years behind the scenes, meeting and interviewing famous people and traveling the country and how he ended up working at Bravo. Part of the charm of his show is that Cohen always seems so excited to meet his guest. He's just a regular fan we can all relate to instead of the celebrity he himself has come to be. The book has the same charm and is peppered with stories of a star struck Cohen meeting the celebrities he loves while sometimes embarrassing himself in the process. The only downside to the book, I wanted to keep reading after it ended a bit abruptly ... and I'd really like to know once and for all who really is his favorite housewife.

So if you are a fan of Bravo and looking for a nice, easy summer read, I'd definitely recommend Most Talkative.

Listen to a clip of the book narrated by Andy himself.

Finally, did you have a chance to play match the MOT last month? As promised, the answers are below. How many did you get right? Let me know in the comments!

  1. "I'll be damned if I'm going to change my name. I'm a Jew and I'm proud of it."
  2. "As an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr Galliano in any way. I hope at the very least these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful."
  3. "I am Irish as a person, but I feel Jewish an an actor."
  4. "I'm Jewish, but I'm totally not."
  5. "First of all, the Jewish religion has a great deal in common with the Christian religion because, as Rabbi Gillman points out in the show, Christianity is based on Judaism. Christ was Jewish."
  6. "The Jewish part of me is superstitious."
  7. "Well I was in Russia. I wasn't allowed to be religious. My whole family was in the holocaust. My grandparents passed and not many survived. After the holocaust in Russia you were not allowed to be religious. So my parents raised me to know I was Jewish. You know who you are inside. You don't need to tell the whole world. You believe what you believe and that's what's important."
  8. "I went to a Jewish school, where nobody understood what it was like to be black and Jewish."
  9. "The night before our wedding I went to mikvah and Mike went to the ocean."
  10. "I interviewed survivors, I went to Poland, saw the cities and spent time with the people and spoke to the Jews who had come back to Poland after the war and talked about why they had come back."
  11. "It's a survivor's sense of humor, maybe even a Jewish sense of humor. Because of the difficulty of life for many Eastern Europeans - the pogroms, the Revolution, the Holocaust - their humor is broad and aggressively and ridiculously comic."
  12. "I didn't want the pain of it. I didn't want the derision. I didn't come from some tough New York community where I'd say: 'I'm Jewish -you want to make something out of it?' There was an insidious anti-Semitism in Los Angeles."
  13. "You know I grew up with the same holidays and such, in an Orthodox manner, in a Kosher home, and all of that. And those are strict rules to live by that I think really shape your personality and discipline. I think they definitely, whether I knew it at the time or not, subconsciously it definitely seeped in to just create a good balance."
  14. "I'm half Jewish, I'm half black, I look in-between. I dress funny. I play all these different styles of music on one record. It's like, What is he doing?"
  15. "I'm Jewish. I don't work out. If God had wanted us to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor."

1. Barbara Streisand, 2. Natalie Portman, 3. Harrison Ford, 4. Sarah Silverman, 5. Barbara Walters, 6. Gwenyth Paltrow, 7. Mila Kunis, 8. Drake, 9. Mayam Bialik, 10. Steven Spielberg, 11. Liev Schreiber, 12. Dustin Hoffman, 13. Emmanuelle Chriqui, 14. Lenny Kravitz, 15 Joan Rivers

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