O’Connell gets real about the 'Real Housewives'

By Mary Sollosi
October 01, 2018 at 11:06 AM EDT

Jerry O’Connell’s got a new gig doing what he does best — talking about the Real Housewives, that is.

The Bravo superfan (and frequent Watch What Happens Live guest) hosts a new talk show on the network, Play by Play, which premiered last week and is, in O’Connell’s own words, “The View, except instead of talking about Trump and Supreme Court justices, we’re talking about Vicki Gunvalson and Steve Lodge.”

Every Monday, O’Connell and a panel of Bravo fanatics (including EW radio host Michael Yo) break down the biggest dramas of the previous week, whether they went down in Coto de Caza or SUR or Sonja Morgan’s townhouse. “It’s really fun to passionately talk about things,” O’Connell says. “Bravo is my passion. It really is. My wife [Rebecca Romijn, who will also appear on Play by Play] and I spend, I would say, about 40 percent of our day talking about our children and what we’re going to do, and 60 percent of our day talking about whether Gina is going to be okay after this divorce.”

In preparation for O’Connell’s new show, EW grilled him about his takes on current Bravo dramas as well as his all-time favorites. See what he picked — and which coveted piece of iconic Housewives memorabilia he actually owns — below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your initiation into the Bravo-verse?
It was New Jersey. It was when Teresa Giudice flipped that table. I really was hooked from that point on.

Which Housewives vacation do you wish you could have gone on?
I gotta say, I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard at anything on television as I have when those [RHONY] ladies were on that Cartagena boat trip. I don’t know why I was laughing so hard. I actually felt a little diabolical, that I was watching, potentially, people perish at sea. I could not stop laughing. I just found it to be hilarious. Hilarious! Watching Sonja cry, and then watching Tinsley going, “Guys, it’s fine, nothing’s happening, don’t worry, the boat is supposed to go like this.” It was just a cacophony of humor for me.

Would you rather… attend Kyle Richards’ white party or the Posche fashion show?
I gotta go with the Posche fashion show. You’re going to witness some insane physical altercation involving dozens of people. And cops. It’s going to be a real show. When you go to a Posche fashion show, you’re not just going for the fashion. You’re going for the madness.

…Patricia’s Winter Wonderland Ball or Dorinda’s Christmas in the Berkshires?
Definitely Dorinda’s Christmas in the Berkshires. She just makes it nice.

… work in one of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants or be one of Sonja Morgan’s interns?
I love Sonja Morgan, but being her intern looks like it is the worst job ever. I would rather shovel manure than have to be an intern for Sonja. And also, I’d rather work at one of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants. I’d get on that show — I’d get to party with James!

What is your take on the Kandi-Porsha-Phaedra drama?
First of all, it’s a terrible story to make up about someone. So I understand why everyone was so upset. What Phaedra did was terrible, [but] I hope it’s forgivable, because I do miss her as a housewife. I really do. I just miss her catchphrases, too. Everybody knows

Look, Phaedra had all the great pieces of being a classic Housewife storyline. A super hot husband — super hot. I mean, arguably the hottest. Apollo, when he got out of prison and he was in prison shape, was maybe the hottest househusband ever. And there was a lot of talk about him doing nefarious things again, then he got busted — amazing storyline. Trial storyline, then of course a divorce storyline, then a visiting-dad-in-prison storyline — it had everything! Maybe one of the best couple storylines in Housewives history.

Speaking of Housewives you miss, what do you make of the return of Danielle?
Oh, man, I can’t believe I’m saying this. It wasn’t as exciting as I thought it was going to be. I’m so sorry. I apologize to everyone at Bravo. I do have to keep it a little bit real. I was expecting a lot, and I think I needed to manage my expectations a little bit. I do have to tell you — it’s tough to top table flips, and I am one of the very few owners of a rare copy of Cop Without a Badge.

No! Have you read it?!
I read it, and I actually obtained an actual copy of it. Not an e-book. The actual book.

Do you ever take it to dinner parties and just throw it on the table, to see what happens?
No, no, no, it doesn’t leave my house. Are you kidding me? It’s in, like, a glass case. It has a dehumidifier next to it. Honestly, I would rather have a copy of Cop without a Badge than, like, a parchment copy of Four score and seven years ago… It’s like having a Shakespearean manuscript. Are you kidding me? I don’t let my kids near it; I don’t let anybody near it. I take more care of that than I do my children. I dust it… please. Are you crazy? I got, like, a curator to come in and make sure there’s no sun hitting it. I don’t want any of the pages fading. I have Louvre-like security around it.

Are you Team Bethenny or Team Carole?
My wife and I are team Carole. We just feel that Bethenny was making too many demands on the friendship, and we sort of get it. Carole’s always been sort of like a cat, you know? You can’t run up to cats and be like, “Oh, talk to me, I need help, I’m going through it.” Cats you sort of, you have to lay down on the bed and then a cat will come up to you, you know? Carole’s like a tabby. I think Bethenny is just too much for Carole. And I gotta tell you, I think a lot of it stems from old sexy-salad Adam asking for money to take pictures down in Puerto Rico. I don’t think B-Strong was into that too much, and I think that caused a rift. And when it comes to that, I’m definitely team Bethenny; I thought that it was a little crude that people were asking to be paid to go down and help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico…

This is what I’m talking about. This could be a three-hour interview about what’s going on between Bethenny, Carole, and Adam. I could do like a Ken Burns Vietnam-style documentary on Bethenny and Carole. I’ll do it. Give me the budget, and I’ll sit down and make a six-hour PBS documentary series on Bethenny and Carole. That will be my Civil War documentary.

What is your favorite Bravolebrity pop single?
I guess everyone’s going to say Kim Zolciak’s “Tardy for the Party.” Everyone’s going to go “Money Can’t Buy You Class” with the Countess, or “Chic C’est La Vie,” but I’m going to go a little old school and say Melissa Gorga’s “On Display” [sings “On Display”]. That was really fun to me. I’m actually sad that Melissa has not been chasing her recording artist dreams any longer. She has a recording studio in her home, she can’t use the old excuse “I can’t get to the studio,” because it’s right there in her basement.

Which Bravo one-season wonder do you wish you could revisit?
Oh, you know I’m an Après Ski kinda guy! Donde esta Après Ski?!

Brittany and Jax: Will they make it?
Those two are gonna make it. We’re all rooting for them. That’s our Meghan and Harry right there, for the United States. I think those two are gonna make it. We’re all pulling for those crazy kids. Had a lot of ups and downs, a few more downs than ups, but you know what? They’re still together. More than we can say for a lot of people. They’re doing better than Brad and Angie.

Play by Play airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET on Bravo.