You’re already on Bravo five nights a week with Watch What Happens: Live — what new story did you want to tell in this book?
I wanted to tell a dream-come-true story about going from a closeted gay kid who loved pop culture to an out adult man making pop culture. I went from being told when I was 21 that I should never go on TV because of my crossed eyes to winding up being a Housewives whisperer and talk-show host. It’s also kind of a how-to for people who want to break into the entertainment business.
Thank you for all the photos of your twentysomething self, by the way.
I mean, the cutoff shorts and the hair — it was so crazy! I tried to put many embarrassing photos in the book because you have to laugh at yourself. It’s so mental how I looked in the ’90s. The fact that I thought my ponytail was a good thing — it was just terrible. Cutting it off was so monumental.
The chapters about your time at CBS News might surprise fans who only know you from Bravo. You were on the scene for a lot of the biggest news events of the ’90s — everything from the Joey Buttafuoco scandal to the Oklahoma City bombing.
I think there’s a misperception that I just turned up and gave myself a TV show. Actually, I’ve worked in TV for 22 years — I have the battle scars to prove it!
You seem to genuinely love the Housewives, but you do dish quite a bit about what goes on behind the scenes — how they jockey for more attention and money. Were you concerned about offending them?
That’s always my struggle. I wanted to give Housewives fans some substantial dish, but I still have a job here. The book really takes you inside the minutiae, the depths to which they’ll care if I move someone’s photograph, or whose dog I retweet. This is what it’s like to be in the middle of Hurricane Housewives!
How are you going to roll out your book on Watch What Happens? Maybe a drinking game?
I use the word “Jewish” a lot in the book, so that could be the drinking word. But I don’t know if drunk reading is that fun. [Laughs] I think I just want to do a countdown of embarrassing moments from my life. I have so many that I want to show.
As the title of the book suggests, chattiness has been one of the defining themes of your life.
My mouth is my greatest strength and also my Achilles’ heel. It cuts both ways: from getting kicked off the water-polo team when I was a freshman in high school to blurting out, “I don’t transcribe” when I was an intern at CBS News to lying to Oprah Winfrey to get an interview to — on the flip side — somehow hosting my own show. That’s the theme of this book: Be you and all will be good.