The Main Event Gala Finally Lands Andy Cohen


It took two years of trying, but the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and its sponsors are convinced that landing Andy Cohen, who’ll be guest speaker Nov. 10 at its annual Main Event gala, was worth the wait.

That’s because Bravo’s hot commodity on the talk-show circuit, who’s made his Real Housewives franchise a sensation and has just published his third book, Superficial: More Adventures from the Andy Cohen Diaries, should have plenty to say to what he calls “his people.”

“I love coming to Philly because the people are so warm and energetic every time,” Cohen said in a statement. “Especially the Jewish community.”

“We actually had him in our sights last year, and the schedule just didn’t work out,” said Jewish Federation Chief Marketing Officer Steve Rosenberg, “but we developed a bit of a relationship with his agent and told him for this year Andy was our top guy.

“He’s a big hit in the pop culture community. Bravo is huge. And he’s got a great Jewish connection.”

“It’s part of the whole picture,” Cohen told the Atlanta Jewish Times in 2015. “When you grow up in a family where you’re Bar Mitzvahed and confirmed, you’ve just grown up with it.

“My family was Reform, but we celebrated all the holidays. There’s a lot of Yiddish thrown around in my entire family. I say it on the air a lot. Beyond my ‘Mazel of the Day,’ Yiddish is really a part of my life; it’s a part of my vocabulary.”

According to Cohen, who grew up in St. Louis, then worked behind the scenes and in production at CBS News for a decade before joining Bravo in 2004, Judaism goes far beyond the religious aspects.

“The Jewish culture … is so much more than going to temple,” he told the Times. “It’s about who you are and how you live and how you communicate and certainly how you eat.

“Anyone who watches my show sees what a part it is of my life. I give a Mazel of the Day every day at the end of my show. Bravo has created a whole line of mazel merchandise based on me saying it every night on the show.

“It’s like a shout-out.”

The gala starts at 6 p.m. at the Please Touch Museum, just an hour after it closes.

“We literally have an hour to flip the space from a museum to a party space, but they do it every day,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a story in itself to see how it gets flipped from crying, screaming children at 5 p.m. to 700 Jews in blazers and cocktail dresses at 6 p.m.”

Those 700 or more, which is expected to be a record turnout, figure to be hungry.

But with a full complement of what Rosenberg calls “heavy hors d’oeuvres,” plus an open bar, they shouldn’t be for long.

“It’s our one and only community get-together where we invite the whole community and make sure the food is the most Glatt kosher,” Rosenberg said. “If you leave hungry, something’s wrong.

“The Please Touch Museum creates a great bright, colorful, fun atmosphere. We had it there last year, and it turned out to be a great location.”

Gala co-chairs Stephen and Meredith Moss and David and Beth Blum said the planning has been going on for months.

“I’d say we’ve had about one conference call a week the past three months,” Stephen Moss said. “It’s a big event that helps kick off the whole next year at [Jewish] Federation.

“It was a great honor when I got the call asking us to co-chair the event. People have mentioned to us about doing things like this before, but with our kids being young, we weren’t able to do it. This year it worked with our schedule.”

The same is true for Cohen, host of Bravo’s interactive, late-night talk show, Watch What Happens Live.

He followed that up with his first book, Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture, in 2012 and The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year in 2014.

While Cohen’s Jewish heritage should make him a natural follow-up to Henry Winkler in 2015 and Joshua Molina from 2014, it’s not a requirement.

“Bill Clinton spoke at this event before. So has Jay Leno,” Rosenberg said. “We wanted to find someone interesting from pop culture. Someone who’s well known but comes off as a nice guy. People are excited. Word’s spread, and we’ll see lot of new people.”

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