With the second season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills(finally) winding down, viewers still don’t know what to think about resident drama queen Taylor Armstrong. The lady who made an entire series revolve around her faux tears (are her tear ducts frozen from botox?!) is still leaving us perplexed months after filming ended and months after the unfortunate death of her estranged husband Russell Armstrong.
Taylor, who is said to be destroyed by Russell’s passing and working hard to rebuild her life as a stronger person, has been all over the place in the media giving interviews, selling books and giving a very interesting portrait of a woman in grief. In the latest, three conflicting reports give us three different versions of Taylor — really, who knows what to believe.
First up, from RadarOnline comes the story of Taylor, the abused wife, and more information about the time-frame for Monday’s episode. Next week viewers will see Lisa Vanderpump re-opening her revamped lounge SUR with a big party attended by all the ladies of the cast. Previews show Lisa questioning Taylor about a suspicious bruise near her eye and Taylor having yet another tearless, wailing breakdown over her marriage.
According to the new report, more than a month had lapsed between shooting because Taylor had been hospitalized after an alleged serious beating left her face terribly bruised. Taylor also confessed to having Lasik eye surgery in early July, while filming was still taking place. Taylor has stated Russell severely beat her following the surgery, dislocating her cornea which resulted in the hospitalization. The photos she released of the alleged beating stemmed from that incident.
“Taylor still was bruised when she was at the party. She admits on camera to the ladies that Russell had badly beaten her. This beating had taken place after she had told him their marriage was over,” an insider reveals.
“Taylor wanted to face the ladies, especially Camille Grammer, because Taylor felt that Kelsey’s ex-wife had put her in danger by telling the others that Russell had been violent with her in the past,” Taylor the insider adds.
Last week, viewers saw Taylor speaking to wannabe Housewife Dana Wilkey supposedly a few days after Russell moved out and days before next week’s episode was filmed. At that time Taylor did not appear to have any visible facial injuries.
According to this report Lisa postponed the reopening of SUR to accommodate Taylor’s healing because Bravo wanted to film the event. Which would mean all the ladies are acting on next week’s episode?!
“Taylor’s hospitalization threw a monkey wrench in Lisa’s bottom line. The restaurant had been ready to open, viewers will see Lisa frantically trying to get the restaurant open, but Bravo had told her they wanted to film the grand opening party, so they had to wait until Taylor was out of the hospital,” the source describes of Bravo’s decision to fabricate scenes.
“Taylor wanted to face all of the women in one place. She wanted and needed to have them see her with the bruise on her face. Taylor was in VERY heavy make-up that night.” SUR allegedly actually re-opened in early-September, which was almost a month after Russell’s death — Perhaps this was a special event party filmed expressly for Bravo, but it’s very interesting from a timing perspective.
Last week, Bravo filmed the season two reunion. Andy Cohen stated that Taylor “didn’t shed a tear” during filming, which left many viewers alarmed given the tumultuous season and all that has been exposed in the course of filming.
“Taylor didn’t cry at the reunion because she is such a stronger person now, and she is no longer a victim,” the source clarifies. “This was a tremendous accomplishment because of everything that she has been through, with Russell’s suicide, and Taylor’s issues with Camille and the other Housewives this season.”
Now, I’m not sure what I think of Taylor’s allegations just yet, but I’ll withhold complete judgment until viewing the remainder of the season and the reunion, where Taylor has promised all the “haters” will eat “crow.”
Moving on, in report two we see Taylor, the grifter mess in danger of being exposed, also from the RadarOnline. Radar has released photos of a drunk and hysterical Taylor being hauled out Craig’s — a Beverly Hills restaurant — by a friend on Thursday night.
“Judging by the way she was staggering she was very drunk. She couldn’t stand up without help and was being held up by her friend as she walked to the car. She looked absolutely wasted,” a witness reports. “She was obviously very emotional and distraught. When she got in the back of the car — with considerable help from her friend — she broke down in floods of tears.”
This is not the first time Taylor has been photographed completely intoxicated in recent months. When she was in NYC to film WWHL Taylor appeared completely out of it and looked a wreck. “She’s a total mess,” a friend reveals. “Her world was built on a fantasy house of cards that’s crashing down.”
“Taylor’s whole persona is false and with Russell’s death friends say that she’s afraid the jig is up and people are aware of what a phony she is,” the friend adds. Indeed, Taylor has been in court battling a lawsuit filed by MyMedicalRecords.com, a company Russell and her supposedly scammed.
“Every time I’ve been around her lately she drinks excessively, we’re all worried about how badly she seems to be doing,” the friend muses. Multiple reports have come forward questioning Taylor’s drinking habits and asserting that friends and family are so concerned they have encouraged Taylor to consider rehab. Taylor’s drinking was also a concern on the show when viewers watched her become intoxicated and out of control with rage and emotions on several episodes.
Finally, Taylor is moving on as photos of Taylor on the prowl on a date are below. Girl’s got bills to pay! Photogs spotted the grieving widow with a mystery man Thursday night — guess where!? Craig’s restaurant in Beverly Hills. Headed into the restaurant Taylor was a little steadier on her feet, but judging from the above information, I’m guessing a second date isn’t happening…
Taylor is seen walking with and then hugging the unnamed man. Photos of Taylor with her date are below!
[Photos Credit: WENN, SPW / Splash News]
THOUGHTS ON THE SHOCKING INFORMATION ABOUT THE FILMING SCHEDULE? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE CONCERNING THE LATEST INFORMATION ON TAYLOR?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE TAYLOR DRUNK WITH HER DATE -
As I’m sure you know the Real Housewives of New Jersey drama never ends. Long after she left the cast, Danielle Staub continues to be at odds with her former co-stars and has continued to be the subject of much controversy and speculation.
Melissa Gorgawas infamously accused of communicating with Danielle and giving her dirt on Teresa Giudice — a tale that has never been substantiated nor disproved. Jacqueline Laurita has long suspected that Danielle was spreading false rumors about her and the other ladies. Well, vindication is Jacqueline’s.
Jacqueline’s persistence on Twitter has finally paid off because after Danielle had a falling out with her number one fan and co-conspirator Mardigrasbarbie, sh*t hit the fan. Or Direct Messages did anyway! Mardigrasbarbie was able to provide “proof” that Danielle was intentionally stirring up trouble and going to the tabloids with stories that were apparently made up. Oh, to have Danielle’s imagination and spare time…
Mardigrasbarbie, a longtime fan of the show, was apparently crazy naive enough to consider Danielle a friend even though they never met in real life and had only an online relationship. Mardigrasbarbie’s real world name is allegedly Nikola Charpentier, and together with Danielle, the poor man’s Thelma & Louise would hang out on Twitter all day (jobs, anyone?) engaging in arguments against any detractors. Mardigrasbarbie became Danielle’s henchman — her online Danny, if you will.
Their relationship started to unravel about a week ago. Danielle suddenly unfollowed Mardigrasbarbie on Twitter and Mardi was apparently tired of doing Danielle’s evil bidding. Signs of trouble began to appear with ominous Tweets such as this: “Sometimes ppl are manipulated to do things out of their nature. Not because they are weak, but bc the manipulator is a professional at it!” There’s many more like it, but you get the drift.
It seems that Mardigrasbarbie has run into the curse of Danielle, a situation experienced by many before her — including former nemesis by association only, Jacqueline! The unfortunate side-effect of being Danielle’s friend (besides associating with Danielle herself) is that Daneille doesn’t tell the truth and she uses everyone.
See, once Danielle has no use for her little friends, she turns on them or drops them faster than you can say “Posche!” Or “Strip club!” And very often it is about the same time these friends realize Danielle is a manipulator with a little problem called dishonesty. Can you imagine if she and Taylor Armstrong teamed up? Oh lawd…
In order to get back at Danielle, the spurned sidekick is now releasing a plethora of communications between Danielle and herself. And they expose Danielle basically telling Mardigrasbarbie to make up stories and and tweet them to the other ladies on the cast and even contact the tabloids with false information! Some of those exposed conversations are below! They are a little hard to follow, but you’ll get the gist.
Amidst the revelations comes the idea that many of the stories we have used to harangue and hate several NJ Housewives likely aren’t true at all! Oops. I guess the age old adage is true — always consider the source!
Jacqueline has claimed that Danielle made up the story about her being a stripper and leaked it to the press. Immediately after learning the news of Mardi’s betrayal, Jacqueline turned to her best friend in times of crisis: Twitter, where she embarked on a rampage to spread the truth.
“WOW! SOOO MANY CRAZY LIES PUT OUT THERE! I INTERCEPTED THE CRAZY HOUR LONG INTERVIEW I TOLD U ALL ABOUT! DANIELLE STAUB NEEDS SERIOUS HELP!!,” Jacqueline Tweeted.
Following that up with this: “HEY @BravoAndy I STAND BY MY OPINION THAT DANIELLE IS CRAZY AND DANGEROUS! LIES! LIES! LIES! I SMELL ANOTHER DEFAMATION CASE GOING HER WAY”
“PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU JUST CAN’T MAKE UP FAKE STORIES AND LIES ABOUT PEOPLE THAT YOU CAN PRINT,SELL IT AND GET AWAY WITH THAT.U WONT!,” Jacqueline seethed. I love Jacs when she gets all fired up! I can just see her freaking out to Chris as she furiously types away at her iPhone while Chris sips some red wine. Some more of Jacqueline’s Tweets are below!
Sadly, Andy Cohen has not made any comments about this latest crazy incident. Ahhhh… Danielle, the original shady character of Housewives and our first notion that Bravo background checks were not nearly thorough enough! Also withholding comment — for now — is Teresa! I cannot wait to hear what she has to say about all of this!
The most unfortunate result of all the lies, is that Danielle’s behavior is likely partially to blame for Jacqueline’s and Teresa’s friendship ending. A fan asked Jacqueline if she was going to apologize to Teresa after learning that she was not responsible for all the false tabloid stories. Jacqueline responded, “NO. Because she does it too,” and included Teresa on the Tweet. Jacqueline quickly added: “but mostly about herself.”
Danielle is, of course, exonerating herself from blame and claiming that Mardigrasbarbie has made all of this up and it is the work of a lone crazy, obsessed fan. “I had [made up lies] do you honestly think I’d tell someone I never met? she’s playing u all,” Danielle Tweeted to Jacs and In Touch Weekly (the magazine that “uncovered” the so-called proof of Jacqueline’s past as a stripper).
“You know no one can break you when you’ve done nothing wrong darlin- in time all in good time people will see they r playing fools,” Danielle added. Danielle also claimed that a new fansite, D_Staub_Fans, that had cropped up in her “honor” was a fake account run by Mardigrasbarbie to further disparage her reputation.
Danielle claimed Mardi acted alone and would create constant fake accounts (remember the “little eggs” drama surrounding the RHONJ on Twitter) and attack other Housewives and fans. So what broke up the dynamic duo Danielle and Mardi? Ultimately Danielle asserts: “I asked her to STOP fighting w people it was bad energy! She wouldn’t – I blocked her”
Mardi Tweeted just how she got so wrapped up in this Danielle drama, “my heart went out to her. I truly felt bad. She’s the underdog so I was pulling for her. I was blinded.”
In response to the so-called mesages between Danielle and Mardigrasbarbie that seem to prove Danielle’s involvement, AllAboutTRH asked Danielle about what happened.
“I thanked her but her dm’s made me extremely uneasy. If i spoke to anyone she would attack them!,” Danielle remarked. And regarding the photograhic proof of said conversations, Danielle responded, “Honestly you see partial messages. At best she lives on her twitter. GN. Not defending myself bottom line! I’m a public figure. She got a little to aggressive. I was uncomfortable. Period” Ok, then!
Finally, in a bit of RHONJ that is not totally insane. Or maybe it is depending on how you look at it. Caroline Manzo the mama bear matriarch of the New Jersey ladies is in talks to get her own spin off. We all know she’s Andy’s favorite because he’s in love with Albie!
According to a new report the only Housewife already confirmed for Season 5 of the tumultuous show is Teresa and Jacqueline is definitely out (which has been corroborated in multiple reports). “They’re always looking for new cast members that would add something to the show; they’ve been heavily courting a few people from other networks who have shows,” a NJ insider tells Reality Weekly.
Caroline is still deciding whether or not to sign on for a fifth season and she is also in talks to develop her own show! About what I could only imagine? Babying her adult children and crying about how proud she is? “It’s all about timing,” the source explains. “She doesn’t jump into anything — and this is no different.”
[Photo Credits: WENN.com]
THOUGHTS ON THE SHOCKING INFORMATION ABOUT DANIELLE’S CONNIVING WAYS? DO YOU THINK JACQUELINE AND TERESA WILL MAKE AMENDS FOLLOWING THE REVELATION? WOULD YOU WATCH CAROLINE ON HER OWN SHOW?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO VIEW DANIELLE’S INCRIMINATING CONVERSATIONS!
The busiest man in reality television, and our lord and savior, Andy Cohen, has evolved from a behind the scenes player and “that dude who hosted the reunion show” to a full-fledged celeb in his own right, and is poised to become even more well-known now that his quirky talk show Watch What Happens Live is now on a whole five nights a week.
There’s no doubt Andy played a huge role in Bravo’s transformation from obscure basic cable network to one of the nation’s main suppliers of rich people drama and D-listers. While he’ll be putting in much more time on-camera these days that doesn’t mean he’ll be abandoning his role as Executive Producer, telling the Hollywood Reporter that he’ll “remain in charge of all development and talent” (his use of the word talent makes me think of Andy as a Barbizon modeling agent!) and will remain an executive producer of Top Chefand all iterations of Real Housewives.
While he admits that this will remove “twenty something” odd shows from his workload, he is still very involved in a few projects featuring stars Bravo basically created including Jeff LewisandBethenny Frankel: “Jeff Lewis has an incredible new show coming on, Interior Therapy, we’re in post on that show, I can’t imagine stopping watching rough cuts of that show. I’m very invested in it and I want it to be right. I just got two new episodes of Bethenny Frankel’s new show today, I’m seven in already, and I probably want to finish that season out. So, there’s a lot of work that I feel I will probably continue doing.”
Given the success of the shows Andy has had his hand in, we doubt his bosses at Bravo would want him to stop producing shows, either. His influence can definitely be felt in other shows, especially with his crown jewels — Real Housewives and Top Chef; he admits to THR that there are “at least 25 Housewives rip off shows right now.”
Speaking of the Housewives, in a separate interview with Wetpaint, Andy lets Jill Zarinfinally score a point in the ongoing media war that is her existence by giving her credit for finding Bethenny and Ramona Singer onReal Housewives of New York, saying “Jill helped us cast Bethenny and Ramona. She absolutely did.”
Andy, however, makes it clear that he doesn’t believe Jill deserves a commission for that. If you recall, Jill revealed last week that she wanted a finder’s fee for discovering Bethenny. “I don’t get a commission for it,” said Andy. “She’s done very well from the show, so that’s her commission. But she did [help cast them]. She absolutely can take credit for finding Bethenny and Ramona.”
He also stands by his decision to let Jill go, along with her co-stars Alex McCordand Kelly Bensimon, claiming, as Jill has probably said to her daughter hundreds of times, that its for the show’s own good: “And I just think, whether the ratings are down this season or up, for the long-term health of the New York Housewives, we did the right thing.”
TELL US: ARE YOU ENJOYING THE DAILY EDITIONS OF WATCH WHAT HAPPENS? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE HOUSEWIVES RIP-OFF SHOWS? DO YOU THINK JILL ZARIN DESERVES COMMISSION FOR FINDING BETHENNY AND RAMONA? IS ANDY COHEN YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR?
Last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was fun except for the KimKyle-nanigans – that’s shenanigans by Kim and Kyle, if you can’t decipher the lingo. Kim, in addition to looking a hot mess and appearing hung over the entire trip also had Kyle taking every opportunity to argue with her; those two again managed to be completely inconsiderate to everyone, but luckily it ruined only Kyle’s good time.
Things start out on a high note with Adrienne and Paul hiking and holding hands. Double take! I love Paul in middle-aged tourist gear. All he needs is a fannypack to go with Adrienne’s “Visit The Palms, I need the money!” visor.
Kim finally arrives in Lanai! As for being late, “Oops” is all she has to say for herself. Kim is so excited to finally be there and unluckily gets placed in a room right next to Kyle. A frantic Kyle hears Kim’s voice and ignores Mauricio and margaritas(!) to eavesdrop on Kim. In the talking head, Kim states: “I chose to not *coke sniff* to talk to Kyle.” Nice.
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO READ THE REST!
On last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta, new friendships were formed and relationships tested their boundaries as Peter and Cynthia struggled in their marriage and Phaedra and Apollo came together for the purpose of a new family business. Kim spends the whole episode annoyed that she has to parent her teenaged daughter – cause you know she has more important things to worry about like her 65 thousand gaudy-a$$ sofas. Does she feel bad every time she makes her husband move Big Poppa’s crap around?
Things start out in Phaedra’s kitchen where she is talking to her mom about opening her funeral home, Funerals Worth Dying For or Fabulous Funerals by Phaedra. Phaedra wants to leave a legacy for her son and thinks a funeral home is a way to do so. Isn’t she a lawyer – Ayden can’t take over the firm? Anyways, Phaedra is envisioning events, not funerals and her plan is to “throw ‘em in the ground with a bang!” There’s only one problem – Apollo has no interest in the mortuary business. No interest at all. Phaedra decides since he likes driving and is strong he can pick up the bodies and transport them to the mortuary. In fact, he can swap out going to the gym for lifting bodies since it’s such good exercise.
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO READ THE REST!
UsWeekly broke the news moments ago with a source telling the mag “Kim is doing well.” If you recall, Kim tried to leave rehab about two weeks ago, before the end of her 30 day stay, but the 47-year-old was ultimately convinced to stay. UsWeekly also reported back then that Kim was being “defiant” in rehab.
RadarOnline is also confirming the news. “Kim is out of rehab and staying in a hotel in Beverly Hills,” a source reveals. Kim’s sister Kyle Richards came out last week denying reports which stated Kim would be moving in with her after rehab.
This news comes as a bit of a surprise as Kim was supposed to stay at the Betty Ford Center until February. Kim’s early exit means she spent about 40 days or less in rehab. Perhaps it’s just me but Kim’s problems looked pretty severe on the show and I can’t help but wonder if 40 days was really enough to help kick her addiction issues. Here’s to hoping it was.
Moving on to the RHOBH reunion which was filmed last Thursday. It is being confirmed by the Wetpaint blog that Kim was indeed absent from the reunion. “Her presence was missed,” a show insider tells Wetpaint. “But that’s okay. Her recovery takes priority over the show and everyone is happy she’s getting the help she needs.”
Other reunion secrets revealed includes the fact that taping took all day. “They didn’t get out until just before 9 p.m.,” says the insider. “It was their longest reunion taping yet.” And yes Brandi Glanville and Dana Wilkey were both in attendance. However, the insider states that Bravo was very upset with Brandi over her publicity stunt/Las Vegas wedding last weekend and took out a little revenge on her.
“Brandi was told to come really, really early,” the insider tells Wetpaint. “She arrived way before anyone else in the cast. Then, the producers just made her sit there and wait. She waited for hours. I think it was their way of messing with her.”
Also, Bravo did not shy away fromRussell Armstrong’s suicide according to the report. “Each of the women was asked if they wanted to say anything about it,” reveals the insider. “Most of them shared their own thoughts.”
So can we expect some fireworks from the reunion? According to RadarOnline, that answer is NO. Bummer! “All of the main issues were addressed during the taping,” the source said. “But other than Brandi yelling there weren’t any huge fights.” The source adds, “Brandi was out of control… She was swearing at the other women and being obnoxious.”
Andy Cohen spoke out on the reunion and Taylor Armstrongin a new interview with ET Online. According to Andy, Taylor “didn’t shed a tear” at the reunion taping. “She is coming from a place of strength and recovery now,” he adds.
Andy also denies Bravo is to blame for Russell’s suicide stating he believes “personal and financial crisis” and a change in his medications contributed to his demise. Andy brings up a valid point when he cites that Russell’s business partner also took his own life.
“This was a man who signed up to be on a second season of a show,” Andy said in defense of the RHOBH. “This was a man that had expressed to producers that the first season of the show was very good for his business.”
The RHOBH season 2 finale will air on January 23, and the reunion will air January 30. There’s no word yet on whether this will be a one or two part reunion.
Moving on to tonight’s all the new episode of the RHOBH. On the 18th episode this season titled ‘A Day Late, An Apology Short,’ “Kim and her new beau finally arrive in Hawaii. Yet there’s trouble in paradise: They miss most of the activities and Kyle at long last confronts her sister about her bizarre behavior.”
The episode airs at 9/8c and a preview clip is below!
TELL US – THOUGHTS ON KIM LEAVING REHAB EARLY? PLUS THOUGHTS ON THE REUNION DETAILS AND ANDY COHEN’S COMMENTS?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE THE PREVIEW!
We’re back in Atlanta tonight after a long hiatus! In the meantime the drama didn’t slow down for the holidays for our southern belles of the Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Keeping herself busy and gainfully employed, singer/songwriter Kandi Burruss has officially added purveyor of self-pleasure to her resume and launched her sex toy line. Also, gleefully branching out from her day job as main drama starter du jour on RHOA is NeNe Leakes whose recent guest spots on Glee have launched her career and her ego.
Speaking to Naughty But Nice Rob of The Huffington Post, Kandi gave him the deets of her newest venture: Bedroom Kandi. Oh, how clever #not. Her most proud accomplishment is the melding of two of her favorite things: music and masturbation with the launch of a music activated vibrator. Off topic — but did I really just use the word “masturbation” at work? Wow.
“They are happiness and joy,” Kandi said of her new line. “We have one button if you choose you can connect it to your stereo or mp3 [player], iPod or whatever and that vibrates to whatever song is playing on the stereo system.”
And just in case you want to make a purchase to spice up your alone time, Kandi advises on how to pick the perfect vibrator. “This is how you tell if it’s a good vibrator or not,” Kandi describes. “You tell how strong it is by the tip of your nose. Most people like them as gifts because it’s different. It’s great and it’s wireless and rechargeable — no batteries needed.” Well good to know, good to know… See the video of Kandi’s appearance on Rob’s show below!
As for Kandi’s spinoff show with Bravo, titled ‘The Kandi Factory‘ Bravo announced over the weekend that it will premiere on March 4! The show follows Kandi as she attempts to turn two music hopefuls into pop stars! Hey, if she can do it with Kim Zolciak, she can do it with anyone!
Moving right along, NeNe is taking her ego to a whole new level! In a new article by the National Enquirer they are claiming the notorious NeNe is giddy about how her career is taking off since guest starring on Glee giving her ultimate bragging rights.
“This is NeNe’s dream come true,” a show insider revealed to the gossip mag. “She can’t wait to become a big star and watch the rest of the housewives in her rear view mirror as she drives off from Atlanta to Hollywood!” Well, check yourself before you wreck yourself, NeNe and don’t let your ego get the best of you.
According to insiders, NeNe feels “vindicated” after landing the guest role particularly in the wake of her castmates’ dislike of her now that she has the opportunity to break out from Housewives. “She told a pal, ‘Whoever said success is the best revenge got it right. I can’t wait to issue a big fat goodbye to all those bitches!’ ”
NeNe is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to rub her latest success in her co-star’s and former friend’s faces — particularly Sheree Whitfield and Kim Zolciak! According to the article Kim was hoping her new marriage and baby storyline would result in a permanent spin off, ala Bethenny Frankel, but Andy Cohen has been vocal in stating the spin off is a one-time event and he wants Kim to remain on RHOA.
“NeNe thinks this Glee role will eclipse the accomplishments of the other Atlanta Housewives combined, and she couldn’t be happier,” the insider continues. “She feels having the last laugh on everyone who ever dissed her.”
Finally, tonight there is an all-new episode of RHOA! On tonight’s episode Phaedra makes moves towards opening her family mortuary business, Kandi branches into the country music scene and NeNe confronts gossip about her alleged affair with Charles Grant! A preview of the new episode is below. Tonight also kicks off the new five-nights a week schedule for Watch What Happens Live where Kandi will be the guest!
Real Housewives of Atlanta airs tonight on Bravo at 9/10c.
THOUGHTS ON KANDI’S NEW SEX TOY LINE – DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE SUCCESSFUL? DO YOU THINK NENE’S GUEST ROLE ON GLEE WILL PROPEL HER INTO BIGGER VENTURES?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE A PREVIEW FOR TONIGHT’S EPISODE!
I think it’s fair to say that the Real Housewives franchise has changed television. The intensely popular shows that prove to us that anyone can be a trashy trainwreck — regardless of marriage partner, pedigree or income bracket — have become one of the most discussed and hotly debated things on television. Indeed, the shows have become a must watch for millions of people worldwide captivating real housewives and celebrities alike. Even Oprah admits to watching!
The real question is — Why? Why are we so drawn to the dysfunction, the orchestrated drama and the opportunity to observe women embarrass themselves and ruin their lives on national television? The even bigger question is: How much of this is reality at all?
The Hollywood Reporter set out to answer just those questions in an in-depth investigation into “the guiltiest pleasure on television” which is worth an estimated half-billion dollars to the NBC-Universal network. Putting together a group of ladies they refer to as the Housewives All-Stars (their version – not mine), the legendary entertainment magazine interviewed producers, insiders, Andy Cohen and the ladies themselves to figure out just why we watch and why the women participate.
“People want to watch rich girls behaving badly,” explains Linda Ong, president of brand strategy adviser Truth Consulting. “The franchise started as a real-life Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous but became this cultural analysis after the economic breakdown. Every town became a sociological experiment, a very real-time reflection of what was happening to the 1 percent.”
“We wanted something very authentic and they started to film something Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque,” Frances Berwick, president of Bravo and Style Media, explains of how Real Housewives of Orange Countywas developed. “It required a whole revision, so we came to a point where we had to decide whether to sink more money into it or just pull the plug.” Obviously money was sunk.
Housewives was originally supposed to be a film — a real documentary — of the gated community where RHOC is filmed. Entrepreneur Scott Dunlap set out to capture the lives of rich women in the affluent suburb of LA after observing his friends while attending a dinner party in the exclusive Coto community. “Everyone was sitting around the table, the ladies blinged-out, talking about family vacations to Tuscany and all bloviating the same thing: ‘Our life is perfect,’ ” he remembers.
The film never got made, but a decade later Scott eventually turned the idea into a reality show and it became a surprise hit in its very first season. Berwick, who had just green lit the surprisingly successful Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, was in good graces with the network and they decided to take a gamble on the Housewives show with her encouragement.
After reshooting the first few episodes and an “incredibly, incredibly long edit,” the show finally went on the air. “It was an experiment,” a network insider concedes. “They weren’t envisioning this huge franchise; the network was just trying to depict a lifestyle. They didn’t put a lot of advertising or money into it at first.” Shockingly, the show took off with the difficult to reach 30-something viewers the network coveted. Viewers who were still young, hip, and influential, but who had money, education, and technical know-how.
The network immediately signed on for a second season, but decided to hire drama based veteran reality producer Doug Ross who has helmed shows such as Fear Factor and Big Brother.“Scott did a great job at identifying killer cast members,” Ross explains “but the network thought with the help of some ‘grown-ups’ this thing could really blossom.”
Bravo had been working on a show called Manhattan Moms, which was the inception for Real Housewives of New York. The series was originally supposed to be about wealthy NYC moms trying to get their children into ultra elite private schools. With RHOC bringing in ratings Manhattan Moms quickly transformed into RHONY. It was at that point that Zalanick decided to turn Housewives into a franchise. Since most of the season had already been filmed the network and it’s production company, Shed Media, decided to simply go with the footage they had.
The network didn’t even tell the cast members (then Jill Zarin, LuAnn de Lesseps, Alex McCord, and Ramona Singer) about concept change. “We went to check out the artwork on the computer and it said Real Housewives of New York City,” Jill describes. “At first we were a little disappointed, to be honest.” How Bethenny Frankel was added I don’t know, but it was her vision to use the show to promote her business that changed the format completely. Thanks B — because of you we have the Bravo Home Shopping Network!
After the first season success of RHONY, Real Housewives of Atlanta and Real Housewives of New Jersey cropped up shortly thereafter. “Bravo unwittingly had stumbled upon television’s next guilty pleasure: a vehicle that showcased the lives of a handful of spoiled, consistently imperfect women whose only real distinction was the city in which they reside — and their unerring ability to behave badly.” With the premiere of RHONJ (now arguably the most hotly contested of the franchise) Bravo was able to capture more than just the 30-something audience and gained fans across all age ranges — including men and older viewers.
And casting is at the nexus of the franchise’s success. Bravo has shown a ruthless ability to let go of stars that no longer agree with their vision — hence the firing of four members of RHONY including original cast members Jill and Alex. They also seem to have an innate ability to locate women whose propensity for drama will result in big ratings. Teresa Giudice, anyone? And to keep the perspectives fresh, Bravo regularly adds new Housewives into the mix.
The real shocker (or perhaps not so real shocker to regular viewers) is the requirement for the women to craft their own storylines. “We started meeting with producers to discuss storylines,” former Housewife Peggy Tanous reveals. “I started getting anxiety thinking about all the forced drama that does happen on occasion.”
Peggy starred in one season of RHOC which featured a season finale argument with her former close friend (and the woman who got her scouted for the show) Alexis Bellino. Peggy has cited the end of this friendship and the contrived storylines as her reason for deciding not to sign on for a season two. While that may be the case, shortly after Peggy resigned (or was let go), news surfaced of her family’s financial distress.
Doug Ross contends that the producers in no way stage scenes or fabricate drama, “The audience could sniff that a mile away, so why even bother?” Although he does admit that the women are expected to plan events expressly for filming purposes.
Shed Media’s Maureen O’Connell agrees, “Honestly, sometimes I wish they would do what I tell them. I wish I had that kind of puppeteering power. But it’s the women who ultimately drive the train.” The responsibility of keeping the drama alive is an important one because drama = popularity with fans (sometimes) = ratings = maintaining their position in the cast roster and well, their paycheck.
But are they taking it too far? Since the franchise’s inception it’s bared witness to countless financial crisis (foreclosures, bankruptcy, tax evasion, etc), the destruction of friendships, arrest, divorce, murder (Kandi Burruss‘ fiance was in a fight, resulting in his death, outside an Atlanta strip club in 2009), alcoholism, family strife and now domestic abuse and suicide. Yet — the women and the viewers keep coming back.
On the converse, the cameras have also captured the good: friendships, marriage, love, pregnancy, incredible financial gains and business opportunity. Andy thinks the network is more than conscientious of the colorful cast of characters that pay his bills and garnered him his own TV fame in the form of Watch What Happens Live. “I have a deep responsibility to the women,” Andy insists. “And I take that very seriously.”
Some disagree. It was the suicide of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast mate Taylor Armstrong‘s estranged husband Russell Armstrong this past summer that caused fans, viewers and the media to question just what the reality of filming the show entailed. Particularly after reports surfaced that Bravo and NBC may have encouraged Taylor to file for divorce from Russell to remain on the show.
Bravo and Andy had questioned whether or not to air the footage from this past season featuring Russell and there was news of re-editing to present a softer storyline. Obviously that did not happen. “We talked endlessly,” Andy acknowledges. “In the end, we decided to capture what happened as sensitively as we could.” It seems that ultimately the network has decided not to feature Russell’s death in the storyline. The season ends Jan 23rd and no mention of it has been made.
Defending his position — and the network’s — Andy reminds viewers that the women agree to participate and the producers are not responsible for the issues that arise during filming. “Look, this franchise is a documentation of a period in these people’s lives. All of these women have stories to tell and some are dealing with some really serious issues.”
Despite the bad taste such episodes have left in viewers mouths the ratings continue to grow (the season premiere episode of RHOBH was up 42% from the series first season premiere) and show no signs of slowing down. It is Bravo’s ability to bring the constant and unexpected drama — a White House crashing, a huge family blow out at a Christening — that keeps viewers unable to look away, not knowing what there is to expect next.
Additionally, it is the women themselves that keep the drama happening and their decisions to return season after season, year after year. The reason is likely money. Jill even recently admitted that she was sad to be off the show because of the paycheck it generated.
And just how much money do the women make to expose their lives to the non-stop drama? A Lot. A lot, a lot. Particularly given the opportunity to develop their own brands — which is encouraged — and have the ability and support to promote these brands on the show which reaches huge audiences. All earnings from which the network takes a percentage of.
“Combined, the Housewives have published more than a dozen books; received product deals from makeup and jewelry to sex toys and alcohol; average well over 100,000 Twitter followers (Atlanta‘s Leakes has nearly 600,000); and receive an approximate six-figure salary each season (the New York cast is drawing a $250,000 payday for season five) — not movie-star money, but steady income for people arguably of limited talent.”
The desire for that success and the monetary wealth that comes with it is sometimes all-consuming. At this particular behind the scenes shoot, Housewives All Star Pinot Singer spent the whole afternoon hawking her pinot grigio line, advertising it to anyone who would listen and scaring off her fellow Housewives. I think it’s fair to say Ramona has a one-track mind.
Ramona was brought to the attention of producers by her then friend Jill, but she wasn’t interested. “By age 39, I already had $1 million cash in the bank,” Ramona dishes, grabbing a bottle of what else? – Pinot! “I said, ‘I’m sorry, but no thank you. I don’t have time. I don’t need to be famous.’ ” She gave it a second thought after the producers convinced her it would be a good platform for her business, True Faith Jewelry. And after five years on the successful series and the development of her own Pinot, Ramona is hoping to follow in Bethenny’s footsteps and nab her own spin off. Seriously? No.
“I’m already thinking ahead,” Ramona reveals. “Initially I thought I wanted to do something like [advertising executive and TV host] Donnie Deutsch and actually visit companies looking for help. I can’t just sit on a couch.” I’m guessing that means she wants to try a Tabatha Coffeyapproach…
Not all the drama is caught on camera – backstage at THR’s exclusive photoshoot with the RHOBH’s Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards were overheard talking. “One of the girls asked me what I think of Brandi [Glanville],” Lisa whispers loudly to Kyle, while Brandi sits alone pretending to ignore them. “And I said, ‘Who?’ ” Then the two friends burst into laughter. Yeah, Brandi doesn’t fit in – that’s obvious, but why so mean ladies? I expect more from Lisa.
Andy insists the show has no malicious intent, and after all the characters drive the storyline. And the viewers are obviously liking what they see since they return season after season. “It’s good, clean fun,” he asserts. “Its like eating a bowl of no-cal popcorn; guilt-free gossip. You can watch it, you can talk about it with your friends and, at the end of the day, you can feel better about yourself and your life.” Right… I’m not sure I agree.