Category: Bravo

'Watch What Happens Live!' to expand to five nights a week

'Watch What Happens Live' will expand to five nights a week on Bravo

This post has been corrected, as detailed below.

Looks like Andy Cohen might be getting his own Mazel of the day. His Bravo talk show, "Watch What Happens Live!," will expand to five nights a week.

The sixth season will air live Sunday through Thursday beginning Jan. 8 at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

The talk show is a revolving door of Bravolebrities and celebrity fans (Kelly Ripa, Sarah Jessica Parker) of the network's programming. The show, which is currently in its fifth season, was spawned from Cohen's daily blog that commented on Bravo's shows — that evolved into a Web series before taking on a TV platform in July 2009.

"In my wildest dreams when I started at Bravo seven years ago, I never imagined that I would end up fulfilling my lifelong dream,” Cohen said in a statement. “It’s the perfect storm — I get to do the three things I’m most passionate about — producing, developing and hosting for a brand that I love.”

The added time spent touting drinking games and issuing poll questions means Cohen will reduce his oversight on programming. The late-night host pulls double duty as a senior executive at the network. Currently executive vice president of original programming and development, Cohen will shift responsibilities and serve as EVP of development and talent, focusing on creating new original content.

"Watch What Happens Live!" currently airs Sundays and Mondays.

[For the record, 8:20 p.m.: A previous version of this post mistakenly said Cohen would be giving up his vice president title. He will retain the title but shift responsibilities]


Bravo gives 'Real Housewives' star Kim Zolciak a spinoff

Full coverage of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" on Show Tracker

— Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: "Watch What Happens Live!" host Andy Cohen, left, talks with guests Nene Leakes and Tatyana Ali on on Nov. 13, 2011, in New York. Credit: Peter Kramer / AP Images for Bravo

'Top Chef: Texas': Make your own tortillas, or else

Ty-Lör said it best: “Nothing was great, and a lot of things sucked.”

The first real episode in “Top Chef: Texas,” after the initial field of 29 was trimmed to 16 finalists over the last two weeks, pitted two teams against each other in a quinceanera cook-off.

While the food wasn’t inspired, and some (like Ty-Lor’s golf-ball sized fritters) appeared inedible, most of the drama came down to tortillas.

First of all, in a misstep that called to mind John Somerville’s epic fail in season seven when he was immediately dispatched for using frozen, store-bought puff pastry in a dessert, neither the pink nor the green teams made their own tortillas, a critical misstep for a meal designed to showcase “elegant Mexican cuisine.” When you’re asked to do the same for Italian cooking, would you immediately run for Ronzoni, De Cecco or Barilla pasta? 

But the real issue was that even when the cooks grabbed the ready-made kind, Keith chose flour over corn, turning his would-be enchilada into a soggy mess of a burrito. We can understand why the judges didn’t like his choice, but more confounding was that none of his teammates staged a culinary intervention. And we’re calling you out by name, Sarah.

Continue reading »

Bravo gives 'Real Housewives' star Kim Zolciak a spinoff

Kim zolciak bravo

You saw it coming. Kim Zolciak’s wedding got its own spinoff.

Bravo will air the new series “Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding” (get it?), documenting the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star’s trip down the aisle to Atlanta Falcons player Kroy Biermann.

"I am so excited to give an up close and personal look at the next chapter in my life," Zolciak said in a statement. "My life has turned into a true Cinderella story and to watch the pieces unfold is going to be great! I can't wait to share with all of you!"

Each half-hour episode will follow the adventures of Kim preparing for her wedding, which fell on 11/11/11. 

Zolciak follows in the footsteps of Bethenny Frankel, formerly of “Real Housewives of New York City,” who chronicled her journey to wedded bliss in the series “Bethenny Getting Married?,” which has since become “Bethenny Ever After.”

Earlier this fall, Bravo also greenlighted a special for fellow Atlanta cast mate Kandi Burruss, a talent discovery show called "The Kandi Factory."



Will Kim Kardashian's divorce hurt the family business?

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap

— Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Kim Zolciak on "Real Housewives of Atalanta." Credit: Bravo.


'Top Chef: Texas': A last-chance kitchen that has many problems

Top Chef Texas

Is it a second chance? Or one more shot at being humiliated? And does the math even work?

Outside of the bake-off to trim the final roster for “Top Chef: Texas” from 29 contestants to 16 finalists, one of the key inventions of the ninth season in Bravo’s cooking competition is “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen.”

The idea is to give popular cooks one more opportunity to get back into the match after being eliminated. But having seen its debut in Wednesday’s second “Top Chef” episode, I can say the invention appears to be creating as many potential problems as solving them and presents a mathematical obstacle that might worry Ben Bernanke.

Head judge Tom Colicchio said the Internet-only “Last Chance Kitchen” was partly inspired by last season’s dispatch of Tre, who stumbled in the series’ restaurant wars showdown. But in its premiere, in which Andrew was able to make a better pizza than Janine, the actual logistics of “Last Chance Kitchen” came into focus, and it’s not a pretty picture.

First of all, because it resides on Bravo’s website, you can’t TiVo the thing, meaning you have to get up from the TV, start up your laptop and (of all the indignities!) be forced to watch the commercials. As Colicchio explained it, though, there will be a “Last Chance Kitchen” every week, meaning that Andrew isn’t back in the show at all, but must repeat the whole exercise next week against whoever else has to pack their knives.

If you start crunching the numbers, whoever finally prevails in the “Last Chance Kitchen” might have to win a dozen or more head-to-head challenges. While that’s still a lot easier than working in a coal mine, it does require a remarkable run of execution and luck, and ultimately subverts one of the underlying (yet not always visible) tenets of “Top Chef” -- namely, that you can make it very far into the show having never won anything.

Last season, in “Top Chef: Masters,” Tiffany made it to the final four without winning a single elimination challenge. A season earlier, in the regular “Top Chef,” Amanda made it to the final six also without taking one elimination challenge prize. The loser’s bracket, in other words, is materially harder than the winner’s bracket. Whoever triumphs through the parallel “Last Chance Kitchen” contest could very easily win more direct matches than any of the finalists. And did I mention you have to get up from the TV to see it?

“I think it would almost be cooler,” Andrew said, “to win it from the ‘Last Chance Kitchen.’ ”
We have to agree.

-- John Horn

Photo: Lindsay in "Top Chef: Texas." Credit: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo



'Top Chef: Texas': Don't mess with Tom Colicchio

Photo: Emeril Lagasse, Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio in "Top Chef: Texas." Credit: Virginia Sherwood / Bravo The theme of Wednesday's "Top Chef" premiere was that "everything's bigger in Texas." Yet there's also something noticeably smaller in the Lone Star State -- Tom Colicchio's patience.

In what had to be the fastest sendoff in "Top Chef" history, the series' lead judge dispatched the cocky but otherwise clueless Tyler Stone to the showers before the Sacramento personal chef even cooked one thing. We can't disagree with the decision -- Stone was butchering a cut of pork the way Daniel Boone might have slaughtered a grizzly with a machete -- and hope that the cooking show's ninth season won't shy away from similarly unapologetic dismissals.

Given that 29 contestants must rapidly be reduced to 16 finalists this year, there's a real necessity for "Top Chef's" arbiters to be judge, jury and executioner in one fell swoop.

Bravo's popular cooking show prides itself on the courtesy it extends its contestants, even as they're shown the door. While we're not asking that "Top Chef" adopt heartless, "Survivor"-style exits, the show in recent years has been mighty slow to separate some obvious chaff from the tastier wheat. It took eight episodes, for instance, in the last regular season of "Top Chef" finally to be rid of Stephen Hopcraft.

Anyone who bothered (and we did) to watch some of the audition videos for "Top Chef: Texas" could have spotted Tyler's fate immediately. As in many reality shows, a "Top Chef" contestant's longevity is   inversely related to how long he or she predicts he or she will stick around. In his tryout video, Tyler said, "this little dummy is going to cook you under the bus" -- a strangely tortured metaphor -- while also boasting, "I have great knife skills," and, "I know I can hold my own."

When he started butchering his pork, Tyler quickly retracted his audition hubris, telling Colicchio, "I'm not a butcher," preferring to have his proteins sent in nicely prepared by some unseen hand. "I know," Colicchio said. "But you're a chef. And that's a basic skill."

It's too early to say who the favorites might be, but given his looks, I'm betting that more than a few women (my wife included) are hoping that Chris Crary, who calls himself "a culinary artist," is around for more than a few weeks.

But if one of your favorites is sent the way of Tyler, don't despair. For the first time, the exiled will have a chance to cook their way back into the competition in a future, Web-only segment called "Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen." It's similar to the kind of pardon that allowed Hugh Acheson, who was booted at the start of the last "Top Chef: Masters," to come back into the kitchen. And now Acheson will be a judge on "Top Chef: Texas."

Let's hope he's not too kind.


'Top Chef' shows it has the recipe for success

'Top Chef' takes on a Texas-sized group of contestants

'Top Chef Masters' ups the spice for L.A.'s Mary Sue Milliken and John Rivera Sedlar

-- John Horn

Photo: Emeril Lagasse, Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio in "Top Chef: Texas." Credit: Virginia Sherwood / Bravo

'Top Chef: Texas': Swift punishment -- but also a second chance

Top Chef: Texas Tom Colicchio been studying Gov. Rick Perry?

The new season of “Top Chef: Texas” premieres Wednesday on Bravo, and based on the opening episode in the Emmy-winning cooking competition, Colicchio and his fellow judges seem to have a fondness for Perry and his state’s tough stance on final justice. While the “Top Chef” adjudicators aren’t sending any cooks off to death row, they are dispatching several lacking contestants remarkably and unapologetically swiftly, including Colicchio’s axing of one chef in the first episode before he even turned on his stove.

If the judging in the premiere hour seems unduly speedy, it’s a consequence of this season’s opening conceit, where 29 chefs initially fight for the final 16 spots in the season’s real contest (that first wave of weeding continues next week). In another new twist for the show, now in its ninth season, one of the chefs eliminated from the shortlisted bunch of 16 will have a chance to cook himself or herself back into the competition well after being booted. Commuting the sentence, in other words.

“It addresses the person whom the viewer thinks got a raw deal, or maybe they were more talented and they were kicked off too soon,” Colicchio said in a conference call about the on- time chance at redemption, where Colicchio will be the sole judge in an episode shown only on the Internet. The move was partially inspired by the elimination of Tre Wilcox last year, after he made several blunders in “Top Chef’s” restaurant wars episode.

“Everybody thought that we should have given him a break because he had competed and done well earlier. And so what it does though, it gives that person the opportunity to get back in," Colicchio said.

Host Padma Lakshmi and Colicchio said the idea of expanding the show’s initial contestant pool was meant to let people cook their way onto the show, rather than making the cut based on their resume and audition. “I never thought of it as a mass killing,” Lakshmi said of the first, drastic cut. Added Colicchio: “There were some people who we were led to believe would have been great contestants, really strong cooks, and they weren’t good at all.”

As for the season’s more intriguing storylines, audiences could have a strong rooting interest in North Carolina’s Keith Rhodes, who taught himself how to cook while in prison on a narcotics charge, and Richie Farina and Chris Jones, who work alongside each other in Chicago’s Moto restaurant.

For people who have grown weary of the contestants’ ever-expanding body art, two women — Los Angeles’ Dakota Weiss (NineThirty restaurant) and Georgia’s Whitney Otawka — definitively prove that tattoos are not the sole domain of male chefs. There's more ink on the two women than in a barrel of squid.

“We’re coming off an Emmy win; we’re coming off of people knowing and loving the show and being very familiar with the format,” Lakshmi said of keeping "Top Chef" interesting. “We have to top ourselves. I think it’s a challenge we face every day in doing the show, just to make it better.”


'Top Chef' shows it has the recipe for success

'Top Chef' takes on a Texas-sized group of contestants

'Top Chef Masters' ups the spice for L.A.'s Mary Sue Milliken and John Rivera Sedlar

-- John Horn

Photo:  Gail Simmons, Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio in "Top Chef: Texas." Credit: Scott McDermott/Bravo

Another Bravo housewife to leave the franchise?

Is Jacqueline Laurita the latest Housewife to leave the franchise 
Lots of divorces have shaken up the "Real Housewives" block on Bravo-- divorces between the stars and the network, that is. And it seems one more lady might be heading to splitsville with the reality show: "Real Housewives of New Jersey's" Jacqueline Laurita hinted via Twitter that her days on the show are over.

It all started with a series of Tweets earlier this week, Laurita aired her frustrations and said she did not want to appear on the show's Season 3 reunion, which taped on Wednesday.

"I feel nauseous and feverish," Laurita tweeted late Tuesday night, after attending the annual fashion show for the boutique Posche, a scene of past drama on the hit Bravo show. (Cameras, meanwhile, were there and already rolling on Season 4.) "No reunion for me. Sorry guys. XOXO!"

She later added: "Someone (not me) got set up tonight. There are some sneaky people trying to make someone look bad & then play innocent on camera. Sad."

On Wednesday, Laurita continued her unloading: "I can't be part of the Charade anymore. It's unsettling. It's disturbing & against what I stand for. I'm a REAL housewife."

And later, "I'd like to only focus on positive things now please. I threw the trash out. I'm cleaning now and reorganizing. Starting fresh and new."

Continue reading »

'Real Housewives of Atlanta' to return in November

Let the sip--n'-see planning officially begin! "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" will return for its fourth season Nov. 6 on Bravo.

This season will explore the ladies' career endeavors, which include sex toys, funeral homes (oh, Phaedra!) and a modeling school. And in matters of the heart, Kim is building a family with beau Kroy, while NeNe is on the brink of divorce with Greg -- both housewives, naturally, are still at odds with each other (unless Kim shooting at a picture of NeNe's face at a firing range is out of love?).

Here's a look at the upcoming season:

 -- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: The cast of '"he Real Housewives of Atlanta" -- Kim Zolciak, from left left, Cynthia Bailey, Phaedra Parks, NeNe Leakes, Kandi Burruss and Sheree Whitfield. Credit:  Quantrell Colbert / Bravo

Video credit: Bravo

'Top Chef' takes on a Texas-sized group of contestants

'Top Chef' Texas

Too many cooks in the kitchen? It sure looks as if that could be the case in Bravo’s new season of “Top Chef,” where a record 29 contestants will try to sauté, braise and grill their way to the top of the food preparation chain.

Premiering Nov. 2, the ninth season in the highly rated cooking competition will be set in Texas. Only 16 of the chefs, several of whom currently work in Southern California restaurants, will advance to the cook-offs in the Lone Star State.

Last season, 18 contestants competed in “Top Chef All-Stars,” with Richard Blais taking the top toque. Hugh Acheson, the colorful cook from the last “Top Chef Masters,” will join Emeril Lagasse as a regular “Top Chef” judge. The guest judges will include Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman and Patti LaBelle.

The local chefs are Nyesha Arrington, 28, of Santa Monica’s Wilshire Restaurant; Jonathan Baltazar, 36, from Long Beach’s Heights Cuisine; Chris Crary, 29, of Santa Monica’s Whist Restaurant; Laurent Quenioux, 51, of Pasadena’s Vertical Wine Bistro; and Dakota Weiss, 35, from Westwood’s NineThirty.

“Just like Texas, this will be our biggest season ever,” head judge Tom Colicchio said in a statement.


We Test the 'Top Chef" Winning Dishes

Ludo Lefebvre bringing Ludo Bites to Sundance Channel

Mary Sue Milliken and John Rivera Sedlar Cook Up a Storm on "Top Chef Masters"

-- John Horn

Photo: Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi  and Tom Colicchio from “Top Chef: Texas.” Credit: Scott McDermott / Bravo

Jill Zarin, Kelly Bensimon and others dropped from 'Real Housewives of New York City'

Real Housewives of New York City
It's time for a wife swap over on Bravo. It's official: Jill Zarin, Kelly Bensimon, Alex McCord and Cindy Barshop have been dropped from "The Real Housewives of New York City." 

Not really naming names, the network released this statement: "Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan and LuAnn DeLesseps will be returning for season five of 'The Real Housewives of New York City.' We’ve had a fabulous run with all the ladies and appreciate them sharing their lives with our viewers. It is a friendly departure among the other ladies and we continue to have on-going discussions with them."

The confirmation comes after news began swirling this week as the four ladies' status on the show remained in limbo -- which seemed on the surface to be a negotiations ploy.

Continue reading »

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: Friends in tight spaces

Photo: Camille Grammer, Taylor Armstrong and Kyle Richards. Credit: Bill Ross / BravoThough it seems inconceivable for a show in which a 7,000-square-foot-house is affectionately termed 'small,' this week's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" featured our favorite ladies -- used to swanning around in spaces with five-digit square footage, with outdoor expanses to match -- forced to share a glorified puddle jumper, squashed together for four hours in a stretch limo on cold Colorado roads and (in Kyle and Kim's case) bundled together in one very tense bed.

Last week, in a nod to the very sad real-life suicide of Russell Armstrong, ex-husband of housewife Taylor Armstrong, the producers led by assembling the ladies in a weepy post-series post-mortem at the Maloofs', where they all pledged to help Taylor during this difficult time. That out of the way, Bravo immediately returned to the start of the series' timeline, with the ladies jumping to the aid of Camille to console her over the necessary sale of her Beaver Creek spread after her divorce from Kelsey Grammer. (Lisa Vanderpump, no real-estate slouch herself, had the humor to acidly comment that Camille would soon be down to only two or three properties.)

The housewives-only jaunt is now a series standby with its own tropes and conventions, and this trip was no exception: overstuffed suitcases for two days of travel, high-octane confrontations in small vehicles, and the inevitable pairing-offs, reconciliations and awkward encounters that accompany six grown women stuck in what amounts to an extremely well-appointed slumber party.

Continue reading »

Bravo's 'Watch What Happens Live' returns Sept. 25

Watch What Happens Live returns Sept. 25

Let the drinking games resume: Bravo's late-night gabfest "Watch What Happens Live" will return for its fifth season on Sept. 25.

Among those slated to appear in the clubhouse opposite host Andy Cohen to partake in questions and oddball games (and, of course, the drinking game) are Sarah Jessica Parker, Anderson Cooper, Tia & Tamara Mowry and a horde of Bravolebrities.

Season 4 of “Watch What Happens: Live” averaged 1.5 million total viewers, according to the network.

Season 5 will kick off with an extended one-hour episode featuring Patti Stanger ("The Millionaire Matchmaker").

The show will air twice a week, on Sunday and Monday, at 11 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Andy Cohen, left, prepares to spin the wheel during a game with Neil Patrick Harris during a "Watch What Happens Live" taping session in July. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press


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