alexa BlackBook: Tina Brown Reveals What’s She’s Learned from Decades of Giving Voice to Women Around the Globe

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​alexa BlackBook is the new ​luxe fashion, arts, entertainment ​​platform​, published inside The NY Post print edition and digital on NYPost.com, BBook.com, and all social channels.

 

In the 1980s and 90s, Tina Brown sat atop New York’s publishing world, back when magazines still held sway over the breakfast tables of the chattering classes. Her tenures as editor of both Vanity Fair and the New Yorker were marked by a boisterous interest in celebrity and a razor-sharp instinct for creating buzz. Brown’s 1985 Vanity Fair story, “The Mouse That Roared,” first lifted the veil off the troubles plaguing the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, a subject she expanded upon in her 2007 book, “ The Diana Chronicles.” Brown’s current focus is global women’s issues, epitomized by her annual Women in the World Summit. The eighth edition took place in New York this past April and featured Hillary Clinton, Scarlett Johansson and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Here, Brown reflects on giving women around the globe a seat at the table.

What have you learned since debuting your Women in the World Summit in 2010?

I’ve really been impressed by the immense courage and resourcefulness of women. We’ve had incredible women leaders from Liberia like Leymah Gbowee, who led the uprising of women which brought down the dictator Charles Taylor; women fighting terrorism or facing down ISIS; and women who are totally changing the norm in terms of issues like sex trafficking in India. They don’t ask for anything, they don’t expect any help, they just do things without any kind of pomp or ceremony. They also have an enormous amount of peacemaking skills. And when you listen to them you just think, “Well, I wish that more women like them were at the table,” because women will reach across the aisle. They want to be practical, they want to solve situations; they’re not interested in keeping animosity alive.

You’ve written a lot about Princess Diana, who died 20 years ago. It’s interesting that she’s come to be seen as a woman who used her position to bring empathy to issues like AIDS and land mines.

Diana was a real trailblazer in terms of how she managed to take a situation of personal pain and then used her celebrity to sublimate it by bringing a spotlight to people who were suffering even more than she was. I think today she would have been the rallying cry on something like the refugee crisis, and I think we miss her tremendously because she really did show how to leverage fame and celebrity to capture the spotlight for things that are more worthy.

How crucial do you think pay equality is in terms of resetting the way we perceive women in our society?

It’s essential. There are so many women who toil in the shadows and who are really doing the job, while somebody over them — usually a man — is getting the credit, getting the pay raises, speaking the loudest at the meetings. Women tend to not ask as aggressively or as confidently for raises as men do, and it frequently means that they get stuck because they always are telling themselves, “Oh well, I don’t quite have the qualifications to get that.” Whereas half the dudes who go in there have no second thoughts about it. They’re kind of the Scaramuccis of the boardroom.

What gave you the motivation to punch through the glass ceiling?

I just had a wild creative energy, wanting to tell stories and write great headlines and wanting to get that new story. I was just very, very competitive, I think, and I’m not sure where I got that from. Most of my role models were men because they had the lives I wanted.

What’s your view on the state of journalism today?

I think the digital disruption has proved enormously harmful and hurtful to our profession, really, while at the same time liberating it in other ways. There are not many venues for great reporters to be paid. That I find very sad, because there are a lot of talents right now that have gone to waste just when we need them more than ever.

Meanwhile, Facebook has narrowed the news we’re receiving in our feed. How do we ensure that we’re not being manipulated by social-media algorithms?

I find it absolutely terrifying. I think one of the most distressing things right now, in terms of media consumption, is that everyone is living in their own little North Korea. It’s interesting to me that in this era when people go on and on about the need for diversity, nobody wants to hear diversity of opinion in media, on both sides, whether it’s the tyranny of liberals or the tyranny of the right. I personally have always felt that real journalism has to be an unsafe space and that’s the kind of journalism that I like to do. I like to ruffle. One of the mottos we used to have at [my first magazine] Tatler, in 1981, was, “The magazine that bites the hand that reads it.” And I firmly believe in that. I don’t want just to be given content that reassures me.
Photography: Brigitte Lacombe

alexa Blackbook: Small Screen Sirens

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Jade Eshete, Age 27

 

For her first big TV outing, Brooklyn-born Jade Eshete is joining Elijah Wood on “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” an adaptation of a time-traveling ghost story by Douglas Adams (of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame). The series is unlike any other on TV, and returns to BBC America for a second season this fall.

 

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I started out as a structural engineer in New York City, working on schools and subways, before I made that frightful, but extremely gratifying transition to acting in my mid-20s.

Describe your character on “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.”

Farah is a total badass and completely unaware of how amazing she is. She’s the muscle of the detective agency, supercompetent, highly trained and a little OCD. Maybe … a lot OCD?

Why should we watch?

It takes the screw-ups, the weirdos, the unpopular and showcases them. They are the lead characters of this show — not the quirky sidekicks — and I find that exhilarating.

What’s something no one knows about you?

I am that random person unabashedly dancing to a Drake and Rihanna playlist on the subway.

Who inspires you?

I used to have a board in my bedroom with things and people that motivated me to get out of bed in the morning: Cicely Tyson, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Liya Kebede, Solange, Angela Bassett, Taraji P. Henson, Prince, my dream house, fashion … and friends.

 

Jude Demorest, Age 25

 

A native of Detroit, Demorest got her start in church — a fertile training ground for song and dance. No wonder director Lee Daniels plucked the musician to lead his new girl-group saga, “Star,” in which Demorest headlines as a street-wise girl looking for her big break.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

At age 5, I played a girl who couldn’t speak in a church play. I told my mother, “In my next play, I’m gonna talk!” And I did!

Describe your character on “Star.”

Star grew up in the foster system, but it didn’t dull her dreams; it gave her the strength to pursue them at all costs. She is the female embodiment of “hurt people hurt people.”

Why should we watch?

It’s a glimpse into pockets of our society you haven’t seen on prime-time TV before. And it’s got musical numbers!

What’s something no one knows about you?

In my first year at college to study political science, I got a call from a music producer in the middle of a final, so I left to meet him. It led to my first record deal.

Favorite item in your wardrobe?

A $1 T-shirt I bought when I was 13 years old that says “Motor City.” I’ve worn it so much it’s entirely see-through, but I will never get rid of it.

Secret to being fulfilled?

The great, late [record exec] Chris Lighty told me, “Don’t compete, just create.” Never compare yourself to anyone. You are perfectly, uniquely enough.

 

Natalie Alyn Lind, Age 18

 

At only 18 years old, Lind has racked up more roles than actors twice her age, including on ABC’s ’80s period sitcom, “The Goldbergs,” and Fox’s “Gotham.” Next up: Fox’s X-Men spinoff, “The Gifted.”

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

Before I could walk. My father [producer John Lind] cast me in a film at the age of 1, and it took off from there.

Describe your character on “The Gifted.”

On the outside, she has this girl-next-door facade, all very perfect — daughter, sister, student — but in fact, she’s a mutant.

Why should we watch?

The show represents a lot of what’s happening in America today, but with a twist: mutants!

What’s something no one knows about you?

I have been in parkour training for three months — everything you see on the show we’re actually doing. And I’m in heels the entire time. My calf muscles have definitely toned up!

Secret to being fulfilled?

A supportive family. Being able to have parents who let me fulfill my dreams is incredible. I’m the oldest of three and my younger sisters are also actors. It’s been so cool to go through this industry with them by my side.

 

Nathalie Kelley, Age 32


 

IF you didn’t catch Peruvian-born Kelley on ABC’s “Body of Proof” or the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” you have another chance with this fall’s reboot of uber-’80s soap “Dynasty,” hopefully replete with the catfights that made the original so enjoyable. Kelley stars as Cristal, a Latina woman marrying into the famous Carrington oil family.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I had just finished watching Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet,” and could not stop crying. My mother thought it was because they die at the end, but it was actually because, for the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted to do. I was 12.

Describe your character on “Dynasty.”

Cristal leads as warm and loving, but like any Latina she is feisty when crossed!

Why should we watch?

It’s fun, but we also touch on a lot of socially relevant issues like fracking and immigration — so it’s a not-so-guilty pleasure.

What’s something no one knows about you?

My dad trained me and my brother to memorize complicated equations when we were 5 to impress friends at dinner parties. Much to his disappointment, I flunked math in high school.

Go-to show or movie to cheer yourself up?

Is it weird that it is “The Constant Gardener?” Director Fernando Meirelles shows how politics and themes of social justice can intersect with amazing filmmaking.

Who inspires you right now?

Gandhi and MLK. It sounds trite, but love is really the answer.

 

Jessica Paré, Age 36

 

BEFORE her breakout role as Megan Draper on “Mad Men,” Montreal-born Jessica Paré had accumulated an eclectic resume of roles, from Napoleon’s mistress to a pop singer-turned-vampire. This fall, she returns in CBS’s much-hyped “SEAL Team,” about a unit of the elite military force.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

My dad [a drama teacher in Montreal] played Prospero in “The Tempest” when I was 11 or 12, and I loved running lines with him.

Describe your character on “SEAL Team.”

Amanda Ellis is a CIA analyst who is always watching, threading a narrative together from multiple sources. She’s mysterious.

Why should we watch?

We’re trying to offer a unique perspective, exploring the human lives of the oft-mythologized Tier One operators. Action and feelings, you guys!

What’s something no one knows about you?

I was going to say the fact that I always take my pants off in my trailer at lunch, but I just found out that it’s an open secret. Which makes me feel weird.

Favorite item in your wardrobe?

A 1940s black velvet dinner jacket that belonged to my grandmother. Close second are the Megan Draper dresses that managed to make their way to me.

Secret to being fulfilled?

Lowering your standards. That sounds depressing, but I mean it in the best way. We just can’t be at 100 percent all of the time, so holding oneself to the highest standards 100 percent of the time is going to leave you falling short.

Who inspires you right now?

Angela Davis, Alicia Garza, Issa Rae, Iggy Pop and all of my castmates, but particularly Toni Trucks.

 

Margarita Levieva, Age 37

 

A Russian-born gymnast who moved to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, at the age of 11, Levieva studied economics at NYU before launching her acting career, notably landing a role in the 2009 Jesse Eisenberg- and Kristen Stewart-helmed film, “Adventureland” a few years later. Having burnished her credentials with recurring roles on ABC’s “Revenge” and NBC’s “The Blacklist,” she now turns up on David Simon’s hotly tipped HBO drama, “The Deuce,” starring 
James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

When I was 5 years old I saw Maya Plisetskaya dance the Black Swan in “Swan Lake” at the Bolshoi Ballet. There was no human on that stage. Just an extraordinary, powerful, graceful swan. That kind of transformation moved me deeply and I knew that I wanted to be a performer.

Describe your character on “The Deuce.”


Abby is young, fierce, intelligent and curious. In the first season, she’s hungry to find her own voice. She’s tired of the status quo and is searching for her place in this wild, potent time in NYC history.

Why should we watch? 


It’s David Simon. Early 1970s. The beginning of the porn industry in NYC. Need I say more?

Go-to show or movie to cheer yourself up?


“The Golden Girls” — works every time.

Favorite item in your wardrobe?

An old worn-out cashmere sweater that my dad bought for me in Paris, before he passed away.

Secret to being fulfilled?

It’s simple and a bit Hallmark-y, but doing things I love with people I love.

Who inspires you right now?

People over 90 falling in love.

 

Jade Esthete Photo by: Taylor Jewell, Hair & Makeup: T. Cooper using Ecru New York, Location: Sofitel New York 45 W. 44th St. New York, NY

Margarita Levieva Photo by: Matt Doyle, Stylist: Danielle Nachmani at The Wall Group, Hair Stylist: Brian Magallones at Tracey Mattingly, Makeup Artist: Nina Park at The Wall Group, Location: Dream Midtown

Jessica Pare Photo: Cliff Lispn/CBS

Other Photos by: Bjorn Iooss/Trunk Archive, Kenneth Willardt/Trunk Archive, Jean-Claude Vorgreak.

David Hockney: The Reinventors’ Reinventor

David Hockney
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Photography by M. Sharkey

Old ideas are easy to fall back on. New ideas require vision — and courage. At 77, David Hockney remains one of the most innovative artists alive, not only for his central place in the pop art movement of the 1960s, but also for his constant delight in pushing boundaries. This is an artist who exhibited an early collection in London in 1961 under the title “Fuck,” drawing on sexual graffiti in public toilets — six years before homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain. More than 50 years later, Hockney was able to draw over 650,000 people to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where his exhibition, “A Bigger Picture,” reflected his ongoing enthusiasm for new forms and technologies.

Critics have sometimes dismissed Hockney’s endless reinvention as a lack of discipline and seriousness, not that the artist would care what they have to say. These days, he prefers to follow the conversation on Twitter. “It isn’t just about a little comment of 140 characters, it’s much more than that because it’s notice- boards,” he told The Guardian a few years ago. “People post something, it takes you to another person, it moves along.” In other words: Who needs old media when you have new?

Lured by watching Laurel and Hardy movies as a child, Hockney left damp Yorkshire, England, for sunny California in 1964, eventually settling there in 1978. His work, from his hedonistic early paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools to his large-scale photoworks, amounts to a lifelong inquiry into perception and reality that never wavers. “I’m interested in all kinds of pictures, however they are made, with cameras, with paint brushes, with computers, with anything,” he told The New York Times in 2001. And so it remains. Since 2009 his favored medium has been an iOS app, Brushes, which he uses to create paintings on iPhones and iPads, a development that would be easy to dismiss as a novelty with a less ambitious artist.

These days, Hockney spends more time in Yorkshire, where he has reconnected with the landscape of his youth, but for a long time his spiritual home — the place that spoke to him — was Los Angeles. “I lived in L.A. so long I’ll always be an English Angeleno,” he said in an interview in 2012. “But to me now the big cities are less interesting and sophisticated than they were. To get something fresh, you have to go back to nature.”

The Dish and Dispatch from Milan Fashion Week

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Models backstage at Calvin Klein Fall/Winter 2015. Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

Gucci was the talk of Milan; it was intended to be Frida Giannini‘s last collection (her departure was announced last December; she has been creative director since 2006). Last week it emerged that she was given a quick boot, and her deputy, Alessandro Michele, charged with producing a new collection in the space of a week. Actually, it was very Frida — feminine and romantic, with dashes of color, contrasting with the somber collections everyone else sent down the runway (this year’s predominant palate: gray). The puzzle was just how much Alessandro Michele inherited, and how much he altered.

The rumor is that Riccardo Tisci will take over just as soon as his contract with Givenchy is up (in about a year), while Alessandro steers the ship in the interval. For what it’s worth, I really loved the collection, but there will nothing there for GQ, Details, Esquire — it’s definitely not what Americans would consider men’s fashion. It was as if all the cute boys raided their girlfriend’s closets.

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Outwardly, Prada appeared to play it safe, drawing on military uniforms in a collection that included women as well as men. The silhouettes were tight and geometric, lots of double-breasted jackets, very tailored, and naval. Epaulets on the shoulders of some of the men’s jackets were echoed in the bows on the shoulders of the women’s dresses. Many of the fabrics were lightweight — nylon jackets, gray mohair sweaters. I loved it, but as usual you would have to be super skinny to get away with it. You’ve got eight months left to diet.

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Military motifs showed up also in Italo Zucchelli‘s F/W collection for Calvin Klein, but this time with a futuristic patina that summoned Blade Runner–an army of sharply silhouetted models in every shade of grey. In fact Zucchelli was more inspired by film noir than sci-fi, but it’s that combination of brooding masculinity and dystopia that makes this collection come to life. Double-breasted coats, parkas, black vinyl jeans, and cropped sweater and bomber jackets, often embossed with animal prints, felt signature Calvin Klein without feeling in any way repetitive.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Musician Jack Antonoff (Fun./Bleachers) and Musician Matt Berninger (The National)

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Lately, it seems like Jack Antonoff has been all work and all play. The lead guitarist for Fun., and Lena Dunham’s arm candy, has just finished recording an album for his new solo project, Bleachers, much of it recorded while he was touring with Fun. The lead single, “I Wanna Get Better” – video directed by Dunham – is a slice of frenetic pop rock complete with anthemic chorus and sputtering piano that summons a time and place—New Jersey in the early 90s—that defined his childhood. As for his monicker, Bleachers, “it reminds me of the shitty parts of being young that ended up being the most important moments in my life,” he told  Vogue.com. That’s a feeling we can all relate to.

When Bret Easton Ellis interviewed National frontman Matt Berninger for his podcast recently, he credited the band’s 2008 album The Boxer for helping pull him out of depression. If the National’s signature sound—introspective, moody, plaintive—has evolved since their 2001 debut (which was more Tom Waits than Radiohead), Berninger has evolved with it. “Once you have kids, I think we realized how our rock band is actually not at all that important in the grand scheme of things,” he told Interview last year. In March fans got to see Berninger from a fresh perspective in the funny, poignant documentary, Mistaken for Strangers, directed by Tom Berninger, the singer’s younger brother, and as much an inquiry into sibling rivalry/love as a rock doc (Michael Moore described it as “one of the best documentaries about a band that I’ve ever seen”).

Here the two discuss the creative process, finding their audience, and embracing the mainstream.

 

Murray Bartlett and Michael Wilkinson Reminisce and Talk Cate Blanchett and Their Australian Roots

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Murray Bartlett grew a moustache to fit in. He was traveling in Egypt at the time, and facial hair seemed like the done thing. But then he got a call—would he audition for Looking, a new HBO comedy drama following a group of gay friends in contemporary San Francisco. Bartlett got the part—along with his stache. “They wound up asking me to keep it, so I had it all last year” he told New York magazine recently. “I kind of grew to love it, too.” Looking’s first season—twinned in the same hour with HBO’s other pioneering comedy-drama, Girls, earned critical praise, and a second season, in which Bartlett will return as Dom, the 40-something still figuring out how to be middle-aged and gay in a culture where youth is king.

One of the most in-demand costume designers in Hollywood, Michael Wilkinson was nominated for an Academy Award this year for his work on American Hustle. A graduate of NIDA in Sydney—the same drama school as Bartlett (and for that matter, Cate Blanchett—the three overlapped), he has designed costumes for movies as varied as Party Monster, Garden State, 300, and the forthcoming Darren Aronofsky apocalyptic spectacular, Noah. In American Hustle the costumes played a crucial role in propelling David O. Russell’s narrative. By drawing on vintage pieces by Diane von Furstenberg and Halston—and scouring old copies of Cosmopolitan—Wilkinson was able to evoke the spirit of the era without resorting to Austin Powers-like pastiche. “How they [the characters] present themselves to the world says a lot about how they feel about themselves,” he told The Daily Beast. “They use clothes to empower themselves.”

For BlackBook the two sat down to reminisce on their time at NIDA (the National Institute of Dramatic Art), and their life as Australians transplants in the U.S.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Actor/Artist Norman Reedus and Comedian Eric André (Part II)

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Best known for playing zombie-killing gangster Daryl Dixon in AMC’s runaway hit The Walking DeadNorman Reedus’s route to celebrity is strange, and apparently not apocryphal: he was invited to be in a stage play after a director spotted him standing in the middle of a party, in giant comic sunglasses, screaming his head off. Given that striking performance piece, it’s not surprising to discover that Reedus is something of a jack-of-all-trades. In between his intense shooting schedule, he finds time to model (he has been the face of Prada and Allesandro Dell’Acqua), paint, and sculpt. Last fall he published his first book, a collection of his own photographs, under the title, The Sun’s Coming Up Like a Big Bald Head.

Although Reedus has acted in many indie movies, including cult fave The Boondock Saints, it’s his Walking Dead character that has electrified his career. And while the show’s body count is high, fans have made it clear they wont take kindly to Reedus’s exit if, and when, that happens. “If Daryl Dies, We Riot” is a common refrain found on T-shirts, mugs, and other fan paraphernalia. “Last season, they were bringing fan mail to my trailer in this mini tractor,” Reedus recalled in a recent interview for Complex magazine, before adding: “But, think about it—it’s not that hard to look cool when you’re carrying a crossbow.”

If anyone can match Reedus’s antic energy its Eric André, whose 15-minute Cartoon Network series, The Eric Andre Show is 15 minutes of the funniest, most uncomfortable TV you will find anywhere. Andre calls it an “anti-talk-show talk show,” that undermines the conventions of the traditional format by exposing them. A typical show will begin with him smashing up his own set, and proceeds from there. Although he does interview real guests—Pete Wentz, Devandra Banhart, James Van Der Beek, to name a few—it’s his fake guests such as George Clooney or Jack Nicholson that are often the funniest. Asked what she would say to Matthew Broderick if he was in the room, “Reese Witherspoon” replies, “suck my dick—I would rather f*** two midgets on a toadstool.” Just don’t expect to find the clip of Andre dressed as a chain-smoking Ronald McDonald terrorizing the diners of a McDonald’s by growling, “you’re fired” at them all. That clip was deemed too risqué by the show’s lawyers.

Watch Part I HERE.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Actor/Artist Norman Reedus and Comedian Eric André

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Best known for playing zombie-killing gangster Daryl Dixon in AMC’s runaway hit The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus’s route to celebrity is strange, and apparently not apocryphal: he was invited to be in a stage play after a director spotted him standing in the middle of a party, in giant comic sunglasses, screaming his head off. Given that striking performance piece, it’s not surprising to discover that Reedus is something of a jack-of-all-trades. In between his intense shooting schedule, he finds time to model (he has been the face of Prada and Allesandro Dell’Acqua), paint, and sculpt. Last fall he published his first book, a collection of his own photographs, under the title, The Sun’s Coming Up Like a Big Bald Head.

Although Reedus has acted in many indie movies, including cult fave The Boondock Saints, it’s his Walking Dead character that has electrified his career. And while the show’s body count is high, fans have made it clear they wont take kindly to Reedus’s exit if, and when, that happens. “If Daryl Dies, We Riot” is a common refrain found on T-shirts, mugs, and other fan paraphernalia. “Last season, they were bringing fan mail to my trailer in this mini tractor,” Reedus recalled in a recent interview for Complex magazine, before adding: “But, think about it—it’s not that hard to look cool when you’re carrying a crossbow.”

If anyone can match Reedus’s antic energy its Eric André, whose 15-minute Cartoon Network series, The Eric Andre Show is 15 minutes of the funniest, most uncomfortable TV you will find anywhere. Andre calls it an “anti-talk-show talk show,” that undermines the conventions of the traditional format by exposing them. A typical show will begin with him smashing up his own set, and proceeds from there. Although he does interview real guests—Pete Wentz, Devandra Banhart, James Van Der Beek, to name a few—it’s his fake guests such as George Clooney or Jack Nicholson that are often the funniest. Asked what she would say to Matthew Broderick if he was in the room, “Reese Witherspoon” replies, “suck my dick—I would rather f*** two midgets on a toadstool.” Just don’t expect to find the clip of Andre dressed as a chain-smoking Ronald McDonald terrorizing the diners of a McDonald’s by growling, “you’re fired” at them all. That clip was deemed too risqué by the show’s lawyers.

Stay tuned for Part II from Norman and Eric, coming soon.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Andy Cohen and Billy Eichner Part II

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One afternoon in January, Andy Cohen, the grinning, gleeful, garrulous host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live sat down to chat with Billy Eichner, the grinning, gleeful, garrulous star of Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street. Eichner had been on Cohen’s show a few times, and Cohen—an avid booster of social media—is a keen follower of Eichner’s hilarious Twitter feed (sample: “Just remember – without Ringo Starr there would be no Beyoncé”) which has become essential reading during awards season. Cohen and Eichner, not surprisingly, have a lot in common—not only are they Jewish and gay and funny, they also enjoy Girls, love Fashion Queens, and adore Madonna. Well, what else did you expect?

If you missed Part 1, can you find it here.