By Jennifer Ferrise
May 25, 2017 @ 2:15 pm
Bryan Bedder/Getty

If you’ve ever watched a Real Housewives reunion or an episode of Bravo’s Watch What Happen Live, you know that Andy Cohen isn’t afraid to ask a personal question. In fact, the 48-year-old TV host admits that meddling has always sort of been his thing.

“I‘ve always loved asking people awkward questions, setting my friends up on dates, and then hearing all the details after,” Cohen tells InStyle. “Basically just getting involved in other people’s lives.”

Well, his gift for gab is about to pay off (again). Cohen’s latest gig, as the host and co-executive producer of Fox’s new dating show, Love Connection, puts him right in his sweet spot. Every episode, two singles go on a series of three blind dates, handpicked by the show’s love experts, and then report back to Cohen on the good, bad, and the terribly awkward, all in front of a live studio audience.

From the first impression to the goodnight kiss, he breaks down the date with each couple, asking them to weigh in on everything from initial attractiveness to fun factor. Did they split the check? How was the conversation at dinner? Everything gets put out on the table. “It’s great because the contestants really don’t hold anything back,” says Cohen. 

FOX

Then the real fun begins. Both the daters and the studio audience choose who they think is the best match for them, and if the choices match up the lucky contestant walks away with love and a load of cash ($10,000 to be exact). If not? They have to choose between love and money.  

The show, which is also executive-produced by Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss, is a twist on the Chuck Woolery-hosted Love Connection from the ‘80s. And while it’s definitely more modern than the original, Cohen says it still has a refreshing throwback feel, especially in our dating app-obsessed culture.

“I think you can definitely find love on dating apps too, but when you’re on Tinder, half of the time you don’t even get to the meet-up point. It’s just endless, mindless swiping left and right. Here, we’re setting someone up and saying, ‘This is the person you’re going to spend the next few hours with. Actually get to know them.’ And that’s that. There’s something really cool about it, I think."

Ahead of the show’s premiere (Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox), we chatted with Cohen about dating deal breakers, playing cupid, and which Real Housewife he wants to find love.

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You and Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss are both responsible for producing some of the most beloved reality TV shows of all-time. Did you know him before Love Connection?

Not really. It’s funny because I’m not part of Bachelor Nation and he’s not part of Real Housewives Nation, so we didn’t really cross paths. But when he came to me with the opportunity to host this show, I jumped at the chance. We’ve since bonded over two things: Love Connection and the Grateful Dead.

Do you really believe that two people can find lasting love on reality TV? The Bachelor doesn’t have the greatest track record.  

I do. I mean I can’t speak to The Bachelor because I don’t watch it. I’m not really sure how it works when you’re all in one house, competing for one person. Love Connection is a show about setting people up. It’s as simple as one person going out on three blind dates. And we all know someone who’s been on a blind date and it’s worked out.

Are you the matchmaker among your own group of friends?

I’ve set up quite a few people over the years and it’s gone pretty well. I mean, I’m not responsible for any marriages or anything like that. But it’s fun! One of my friends actually tried to set me up on a blind date with Anderson Cooper about 20 years ago. We never ended up going though.

What celeb dog would you want to set up with your Beagle-Foxhound mix Wacha?

Well, he’s already met Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s dog Kissy. And he’s met [Phish frontman] Trey Anastasio’s dog, Tico. Both went well! He loves other dogs.

andycohen/Instagram

At what point in a relationship, do you introduce someone to Wacha?

It just depends. Wacha loves the guy that I’m dating right now [Harvard PhD student Clifton Dassuncao]. So I was like, "This is great. Thank God, Wacha has good taste.’" It says a lot when your dog likes your boyfriend.  

What are the biggest things that people do wrong on a first date?

On the show, I was amazed by how many people show up late for a date. I also think people judge someone on their looks too quickly. Like, give it a minute and get to know someone because you may find out that there is something amazing there! Also, people talk about themselves too much. You need to listen to the other person too. Most importantly, stay off your phone.

What do you think is a perfect date night?

I’m pretty simple. I like dinner and a movie or a Broadway show. The contestants got really creative though. We gave them all $500 to spend however they wanted on their date. Some went on cruises, others went horseback riding. One couple even went ax  throwing. It keeps things interesting.  

Where is the most surprising place you’ve ever made a love connection?

Oh my God, gay guys meet each other everywhere. If we’re out in public, we’re ready to mingle. I’ve had a lot of meet-cutes on airplanes. I think that’s why you just always have to be open.

Any personal dating deal breakers?

Bad breath is the worst or not being clean. If the person goes on and on about themselves, that’s really bad too.

Which Real Housewife would you love to see on Love Connection?

Absolutely anyone from the New York Housewives. You just might see one of them show up this season! [Editors' note: Cohen announced yesterday that Ramona Singer will be a contestant.]

What’s the most surreal moment that you’ve had on Watch What Happens Live so far?

Probably drinking Amber Tamblyn’s breast milk! That was absolutely crazy. We’ve been filming the show in L.A. this week and NeNe Leakes walked in and surprised everyone one night too. I thought the roof was going to blow off the place. Everyone just went wild. That’s one of the reasons it’s still so fun." 

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