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'Queer Eye' hosts: Key to show 'tough love'

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Thom Filicia, left, and Carson Kressley are on the hit television show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

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Thom Filicia and Carson Kressley of Bravo's 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' discuss their hit show with CNN's Anderson Cooper
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is the latest sleeper hit reality TV show on cable's Bravo network. The premise is simple -- five gay men with great taste help make over one straight man whose taste is, well, undeveloped.

Two of the fab five, design doctor Thom Filicia and fashion savant Carson Kressley, sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper to talk about their hip new show.

COOPER: You can't imagine the excitement in the building when word filtered out you that you guys were coming on tonight.

KRESSLEY: That's so bizarre.

FILICIA: We're not Janet Reno.

KRESSLEY: Thom looks like her before the makeup. I dress like her.

COOPER: I imagine your lives have just completely changed. This thing is a huge hit. The audiences -- I mean, more and more people are watching it every week. You have -- you have a design firm.

FILICIA: I do, in New York.

COOPER: And you were actually sort of stuck in an elevator with someone, and that's how you got the job?

FILICIA: Yes, I was stuck in the elevator in my office building in Soho for about 45 minutes with a talent manager, and we just got to talking.

COOPER: You really come to know someone when you're stuck in an elevator. You really do.

FILICIA: About 45 minutes with my dog and about three other people, taking out the roof of the elevator with the fire department. And she...

KRESSLEY: If the fire department gets involved, then it's really a party.

FILICIA: It was a party. It's not a party until the fire department shows up.

COOPER: And how did you get involved?

KRESSLEY: One of my coworkers at Ralph Lauren heard about the show in a cab on the radio, and called me up when she got back to the office, said, "Carson, you have to call Bravo. They're doing a show. You're perfect for it." So I made some phone calls, called Bravo, and they're like, we don't know what you're talking about. I made some more calls, and finally hooked up with a production company.

COOPER: You're looking stylish here. The feet surprise me, though.

KRESSLEY: Yes, little flip-flops.

COOPER: Sure.

KRESSLEY: You know, I like to -- you know, I'm taking like, you know, couture here, Ralph Lauren purple label, throw on a flip-flop, makes it fun.

COOPER: The key to the show, it doesn't come off as mean, which I think maybe a lot of people anticipated, that's probably very important for both of you.

FILICIA: Absolutely. Yes. We certainly don't want...

KRESSLEY: We think mean people suck.

FILICIA: Yes, we do. Mean people are no fun. No, that's not at all where we're coming from. When we first sort of break in or bust into the house, if you will, it is -- there's some tough love.

KRESSLEY: The shock and awe, and there's some tough love. We tell them things they probably don't want to hear.

COOPER: Shock and awe, you brushed up on your news.

KRESSLEY: We did. Yes. We're all fired up.

FILICIA: But it's -- when we go in, that's sort of our -- that's our way of sort of connecting with him. We're as self-deprecating about ourselves as we are laughing at ourselves, as well as laughing at him.

COOPER: Do you find that people actually -- I mean, that their lives are changed, that the style really sticks?

FILICIA: Absolutely.

COOPER: That the apartments stay looking great and the clothes remain?

KRESSLEY: Well, I hope so.

FILICIA: We haven't done any drive-by inspections on the apartments. We haven't peeked in any windows.

KRESSLEY: But we have seen a couple of guys at our premiere...

FILICIA: At premieres and out on the street.

KRESSLEY: And running into them just in the city, and they're totally -- they've embraced it, they love it. They really -- they wanted to make the change. That's kind of why they called us. Aside from the free couch.

COOPER: The stuff they get is amazing.

FILICIA: It's amazing.

KRESSLEY: Amazing stuff.

FILICIA: And I think -- they're very excited about it, very excited about the change.

KRESSLEY: It's also very doable. We call it a make better show, because we're not going to make them over and totally change them and give them things that don't really apply to their lives.

COOPER: Let me ask each of you, have you had one that's really stood out that was your favorite episode?

KRESSLEY: I think John was pretty amazing.

FILICIA: I think John had a great conclusion.

COOPER: That was the guy who wanted to get married.

KRESSLEY: Right.

FILICIA: Get together, get engaged.

COOPER: And he cried at the end?

KRESSLEY: He did.

FILICIA: Well, right when we were leaving.

KRESSLEY: When we were going to leave.

FILICIA: When we were leaving, he got a little choked up. Which, you know, we always sort of feel that way when we're leaving.

COOPER: So now, I know -- when you're a fashion expert as you are, do you find yourself sort of constantly looking at everyone and thinking at least internally about what they should do better? I know you mentioned to me I should wear a little...

KRESSLEY: A little pocket square.

COOPER: A little pocket square.

KRESSLEY: Sometimes I do, sometimes I'm at the deli getting coffee, and I look down, and I'm, oh, no, you didn't. I tap them on the shoulder, give them a little friendly advice, and they usually call the police.

COOPER: Thom, any ideas for the set here? I'm not sure what the set is really ...

FILICIA: I have to say, I think actually, the set looks great. When you're watching on television, it looks great. It's very cool in person. It's kind of like "Battlestar Galactica" meets like the Italian furniture fair.

COOPER: That's funny, because that is the look they were going for.

FILICIA: Is it?

COOPER: Yes.

FILICIA: I think I would get rid of what I would call the Chiclet sofa pillows. But other than that, I think -- does it work for you? I mean, that's the most important. How does it work?

COOPER: We can lose the pillows. That's no problem.

FILICIA: All righty.

COOPER: I'm a huge fan of the show, and I appreciate you both coming in.

KRESSLEY: We're a huge fan of yours.

COOPER: I bet you say that to all the hosts.

KRESSLEY: I'm a real news junky. I can't get enough of that Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali.

COOPER: He's no longer, you know, running the U.N., but that's all right.

KRESSLEY: OK.


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