Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 6, 2014
Strippers. Alcohol. And the ballet. Anything’s possible when Bravo comes to Austin.
The network’s Andy Cohen is bringing his "Watch What Happens Live" late-night talk show to Austin for a second straight year, setting up shop at downtown’s Ballet Austin Academy.
The first broadcast is Sunday, followed by four more shows set to air Monday through Thursday. To apply for tickets, head to bravotv.com/sxsw.
Cohen says he first fell in love with Austin when he came to South by Southwest a few years back for a panel. After that, he says bringing "Watch What Happens Live" here "seemed like a natural fit."
"What don’t I like about Austin?" Cohen told the American-Statesman during a recent interview. "American cities are becoming more and more homogeneous, but Austin is completely unique. I love the energy, the music, the food."
Guests booked for the week’s worth of shows include Shaquille O’Neal, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Brandi Glanville, Sonja Morgan and Gabriel Mann, as well as well-known Austin chef Paul Qui and strippers from Sugar’s Uptown Cabaret. Yes, really. And as when the show is in its home studio in New York City — set up as Cohen’s clubhouse complete with bar — the alcohol will flow.
Also on the schedule is ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who is bringing his show to SXSW as well. Kimmel, who has been struggling in the ratings lately against NBC’s newly launched "Tonight" show with Jimmy Fallon, will broadcast from the Long Center for the Performing Arts this Monday through Friday.
Cohen says he’s pals with Kimmel and doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight with his fellow late-night host.
"There’s definitely room for two shows in Austin," Cohen said. "We’re not on up against each other and we’re all big Jimmy fans at ‘Watch What Happens Live.’ "
Cohen’s a busy guy these days. He’s signed a multi-year "first look" deal that gives Bravo dibs on any TV projects that Most Talkative, his new production company, cooks up.
Already, the network has picked up "Watch What Happens Live" for two more years, a show he executive produces in addition to hosting.
He’s also set to continue as executive producer of the always spicy "Real Housewives" franchise and will host all the network’s reunion shows.
A new season of "The Real Housewives of New York" will debut while Cohen is in Austin for SXSW, he said. Look for it at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
"It’s an incredible season," he said. "I love human behavior. Even after all these seasons, there’s still stuff that shocks me in every single episode. Truth really is stranger than fiction."
‘Watch What Happens Live’
10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday