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Win tickets to see Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen in Oakland

Media icons check in with Diablo about their upcoming appearance at the Paramount Theatre.

Here’s a treat to look forward to in 2016: Media icons Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen are headed to our backyard for an afternoon of unscripted storytelling and conversation on January 17.

Cooper is best known as the anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360° and as a correspondent for CBS News’ 60 Minutes. Cohen is the host of the nightly talk show Watch What Happens Live, and executive producer for the Real Housewives reality series, and the program director for the Radio Andy channel on SiriusXM satellite radio.

The longtime friends have been visiting theaters around the country on their AC2 tour, which makes a stop at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre on January 17. Eager to get the word out in the East Bay, Cooper and Cohen gave me a call the day after CNN hosted a GOP debate in Las Vegas. As the author of a book that mixes investigative reporting and a bizarre reality show fiasco, I was excited to speak with both ACs.

Here’s what happened when Anderson and Andy called Diablo.

Anderson, I was listening to you covering the Republican debate last night while driving home. How are you feeling about the debate, the day after?
ANDERSON COOPER: I thought it was a substantive debate and you saw differences between a number of the candidates, both policy differences and personality differences between them. It was really well run—as someone who has moderated a number of debates, I can tell you that it’s really tough when you have that many people on stage at one time. The questions were very straight-forward, It wasn’t about creating friction or drama on the stage. It was nice to have a debate focused on one topic—foreign policy and national security.

Andy, what were you doing during last night’s GOP debate?
ANDY COHEN: I was watching Star Wars. Then I came home and we cut a highlight reel of the debate kind of comparing it to a Real Housewives reunion. It seemed pretty much like that.

ANDERSON COOPER: How was Star Wars?

ANDY COHEN: I really liked it. I have a couple small little notes, but I’m not going to say them. I already called JJ Abrams to give him my notes.

That seems like a good indication of what we might get from the AC2 show—Anderson looking at a news story through one prism and Andy taking an irreverent look at the same topic.
ANDY COHEN: It definitely feels like you are hanging out at a bar with us, just kind of shooting the shit. It’s very insider. We represent two sides of people’s brains—Anderson is on the front lines of every breaking news story and I’m kind of in the middle of everything pop culture. We’re both really interested in what the other person does, and we’re both trying to get the story in our own universe. Somehow, in the Venn diagram, there is a place in the middle where we intersect and its really a great intersection between news, and pop culture and current events. Between the two of us, we have accumulated a lot of great stories and we love to share them.

ANDERSON COOPER: We’d like to give people a peek behind the curtain of TV news and current events and pop culture. What’s interesting is that Andy started out as a news producer and spent a lot of time at CBS News. So, he has a news background and understands the business. And I worked on an early reality show called The Mole for two seasons—so we have various intersecting interests. And, we’re really good friends and its nice to have a friend who knows what live TV and its pressures and joys and stresses are like.

It is interesting how many facets of media you have both covered, and you have both found these ideal vehicles for your talents. Andy, I have been listening to your new channel on SiriusXM—its fascinating to hear how much new content you are creating.
ANDY COHEN: I am having such a great time. Just today I interviewed Barry Diller for an hour and then interviewed Whoopi Goldberg. My talk show (on Bravo) is like short attention span theater, I’m kind of running all over the map, but on the radio I can have a really substantive conversation. It has been so great programming the channel. We have shows about politics and music and a lot of pop culture. Very little Housewives.

Over the past year, I’ve heard you both give long interviews to Howard Stern, who just signed on for five more years with Sirius. Those interviews were riveting—Howard's long interviews provide an evocative, entertaining, and extremely intimate discussion. As professional interviewers, who do you look up to? Who would you turn to to get that really great interview?

Howardstern.comANDY COHEN: Howard is my guy. I have based my style on Bravo and on the radio [on Howard's influence]. He is not afraid to ask very personal, very intrusive questions that people really want the answers to. He has a real curiosity that I respect and enjoy and I try to emulate. He is my role model. What about you Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER: I think Stern is really good. It was Andy who got me listening to Stern in the first place, because I really didn’t previously. I think his interviews are really good and there are not a lot of outlets like that anymore. At 60 Minutes, where I also work, I grew up watching Bob Simon, who recently passed away. He is someone who I hugely admire as an interviewer but also as a writer. It’s people who are both strong interviewers and strong writers who I have really learned from and Bob is the top of my list for who I would wish to emulate one day.

Andy, you came out to Danville a few years ago for an event at Rakestraw when your first book came out. I’m curious how much time both of you have spent in the East Bay area and what your most memorable experiences have been?
ANDERSON COOPER: I have spent time in Oakland, I did a 60 Minutes piece a couple of years ago there. And I was there more recently to do a meditation retreat in the area. The whole Bay Area is special. I have a lot of friends there and I visit there a lot. We’re both looking forward to being there and hanging out.

ANDY COHEN: I have been there many times. My aunt and uncle live in Oakland and I have a very good friend who lives in Oakland. I have come to [the Bay Area] for every singe one of my books, and when they have come out in paperback. I absolutely love San Francisco, it’s like the Emerald City, it's like Oz. I love the energy and the vibe—I was there last summer to see the Grateful Dead and it was the weekend that marriage equality passed and it was Gay Pride in San Francisco. I have had so many great times there, I absolutely love it.

Where do you go to get information first thing in the morning?
ANDERSON COOPER: When I first get up, I look at Twitter for news headlines, and to find out the latest from various news organization that I follow. And then, all day long I’m in the office either at 60 Minutes or at CNN, monitoring stuff on mobile devices. That’s how I stay in touch with everything.

ANDY COHEN: I go first thing to Twitter, Instagram, New York Post, and the New York Times.

Your AC2 show allows you discuss each other’s jobs and media personalities. What do you find most appealing about the other person’s work?
ANDY COHEN: I find his 60 Minutes stuff most appealing. He does the most interesting pieces and no one really does that kind of long form journalism. I love his story selection and his writing.

ANDERSON COOPER: For me, the range of people that Andy gets to talk to, the range of people he has on his nightly show. It’s amazing that he has created a show out of whole cloth on a very small budget that is completely unique and it is my favorite late night show. It is unlike any other late night show. The way he puts it together is very clever, and he gets people to say and do things that they won’t say or do anywhere else. He is able to ask questions that I can’t believe he gets away with.

ANDY COHEN: I can’t believe it sometimes myself.

Last question. On her recent tour, Taylor Swift was bringing singers and celebrities out on stage to perform duets—everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Mick Jagger to Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks. If you could each bring a newsmaker, celebrity, or world figure out on stage at this Oakland appearance, who would it be?
ANDERSON COOPER: I would bring Taylor Swift.

ANDY COHEN: I would bring Madonna.

ANDERSON COOPER: She would be good as well.