Have you ever wondered what goes into creating a reality series before it is launched? Before Southern Charm came to Bravo, a “sizzle reel” was created, featuring Thomas Ravenel, Shep Rose, Whitney Sudler-Smith, J.D. Sermet, and a few other Charleston, South Carolina denizens who didn’t make the final cut. Though Craig Conover is not in the “sizzle reel” he was included in the pitch for Southern Gentlemen, which morphed into Southern Charm.
But while Southern Charm executive producer Whitney-Sudler Smith and Bryan Kestner (who would become one of Southern Charm’s executive producers), with the help of Kestner’s then fiancee, Dawn Price, put the initial pitch together, it was for a show called Southern Gentlemen [view the sizzle reel video here]. Dedicated fans of Southern Charm might remember Bryan Kestner as the person mentioned by Patricia to son Whitney as someone he should consult before going into the restaurant business.
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Patricia told Whitney that he should go into business with Kestner instead of Shep because Kestner had experience with Planet Hollywood. Kestner ended up being involved in the restaurant that never was called Generalissimo.
The premise for Southern Gentlemen was to be a series following “four of the richest and most eligible bachelors as they enter the height of The Holy City’s invitation‐only social season.” The show was going to allow viewers to be their plus one as they navigated the society season that ended up being part of Southern Charm.
Southern Gentlemen had Southern Charm‘s guys each ensconced in a bachelor bad, with Whitney‘s 17th century antebellum mansion, Thomas’s “equally impressive” Downton Charleston historic home, Shep‘s family plantation on the outskirts of Charleston, and Craig‘s Downton loft, near the law school, and local drinking establishments. And the unscripted script treatment suggested that these guys are on the prowl, and not ready to settle down. But in the short-term, they need a gal who “can do the foxtrot, and hold her liquor.”
But even though Southern Gentlemen might have been amusing, Bravo was only going to get on board if there were some women added to the mix, and not as accessories, but as ladies on equal footing. And then of course, the title needed a change to Southern Charm. Those who were added in, and still on the cast today are Kathryn Dennis, Cameran Eubanks, Elizabeth Sermet, Danni Baird, and Jennifer Snowden. With each season, Southern Charm made some changes, but most of the core cast members are back for season four of Southern Charm.
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Photo Credit: Dawn Price