Last Tuesday marked the season premiere of Real Housewives of Orange County. Now in it’s seventh season, Bravo’s original Housewives series suffered from dismal ratings last year, but after shaking things up a bit, garnered about 2.3 million viewers last Tuesday – up 10% from last year’s season premiere.
Pretty impressive for a show most people swore they wouldn’t watch. I knew you would! Perhaps new Housewife Heather Dubrow, along with Tamra Barney and Gretchen Rossi putting their feud to rest, is what attracted more viewers. Or maybe it was other newbie, Sarah Winchester who was bringing the curious?
Sarah, billed as a “Friend of the Housewives,” is a close friend of Gretchen’s and a self-proclaimed heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune. Sarah made her mark when she showed up at Vicki Gunvalson‘s season kickoff party in a pair of ratty, old jeans and hair she forgot to comb. It wasn’t a great first impression.
An even worse impression comes in the form of Sarah’s dating history – most prevalently that she has been crushing hardcore, and apparently having a fling, with former Housewife Jeana Keough‘s eldest son, Shane Keough.
Fans of the show may remember Shane for his straight-up a$$hole outbursts and blatant disregard for his mother – oh yeah and his baseball career. Well it seems Shane has been hooking up with the 33-year-old Sarah for about a year. “They’ve had a fling for over a year,” an insider revealed to Star Magazine. Shane, a former Minor League Baseball player, is eight years younger than Sarah. So, does that make her, like, a cougar?
Sarah’s alleged fling with Shane may make sense given Jeana’s guest appearance this season. Perhaps we’ll see Shane as well! I know you’ve missed him! Upon hearing the news that he is supposedly dating Sarah, Shane immediately denied it via Twitter, answering: “Nooooo<<Weird that I am unaware of this,” when a fan asked about it.
Sadly for Sarah, Shane (who isn’t even admitting to dating her) is a “major upgrade” from the “sleazy guys” she usually dates. Where on earth does Bravo find these classy women?! According to the insider, Sarah whose seeming more and more like a grifter by the minute usually gravitates towards the sugar daddy types!
“She was living off older men,” the insider explained. “She was flying to the Hamptons all the time, always seen court-side at Lakers games, yet she never worked.” Because she’s an heiress. #duh
Apparently, much like Gretchen scored her spot on the show through her affiliation to wealthy former fiance, Jeff Beitzel, Sarah attracted producers, not through Gretchen, but through one of her wealthy, older men! “This rich dude, Kurt,” the insider says, failing to elaborate on just how this “Kurt” is connected to honchos at Bravo. Kurt, a sixty-something Newport Beach businessman, is a former boyfriend of Sarah’s, whom she was able to parlay her relationship with into appearing on RHOC.
Moving on to other less scintillating Housewives news, Vicki opened up about the season premiere and wants us to know she’s a whole new gal! We’ll believe it when we see it, Vicks!
Reflecting on how far she has come since her inaugural season, she is glad Gretchen and Tamra have made amends and are working to put the past behind them, although, she was as shocked by their new friendship as viewers were! “Watching Gretchen and Tamra go to lunch and discuss their past issues was interesting to me. How can Gretchen just put the past behind her and simply forgive Tamra for all the hurt she has put her and Slade through? From what Gretchen has told me, it was easier to forgive then keep fighting,” Vicki explains in her Bravo Blog.
“Maybe that’s a lesson for all of us. I just don’t know if I could do have done it. While I was watching Tamra give Gretchen a friendship bracelet with a key on it and “locking up the past and entering a new future,” I thought WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?!?”
Vicki, like Tamra, is really, really impressed by Heather. And Vicki thinks they have a lot in common. Sit down for this comment. “Tamra introduced Heather to our group by inviting her to my dinner party. When I met her, it was an immediate ‘Wow’ moment,” Vicki muses. “She was absolutely stunning, classy, and the only one who brought me a hostess gift. I liked her immediately and thought. . .’finally someone I can connect with.’ ” I thought Tamra was her BFFL?! What the heck?!
Vicki also talks that awkward moment when Alexis Bellino ran into her ex-friend whom she believes is secretly in love with her husband after they hooked up fifteen years ago. “I felt bad for Alexis tonight seeing Peggy [Tanous]walk in my dinner party. You could cut the air with a knife. The ended the season finale last year with such an uncomfortable situation with Alexis finding out Peggy dated Jim [Bellino]. How uncomfortable.”
Finally, Vicki gives us an update on her divorce to Donn Gunvalson. Vicki claims the two get along well. “Donn and I are at the final stages of settling our property and our divorce,” Vicki explains. “Donn is still active in my kids’ lives, and we are very amicable, which I am very grateful for. We truly want the best for each other, and realized we weren’t the best for one another.”
“As you will see this year, I am dating a great man named Brooks [Ayers]. He has become my best friend, my true partner, and someone that I really enjoy being with,” she concludes, reminding us that this will be a great season. I hope so!
SURPRISED BY THE RATINGS? DO YOU THINK SHANE AND SARAH ARE HOOKING UP? IS SARAH A GRIFTER OR DO YOU THINK SHE REALLY IS AN HEIRESS? ARE VICKI AND TAMRA STILL FRIENDS OR HAVE THEY “BROKEN UP”?
WOO HOO! A new season of Real Housewives of Orange County and these biatches better bring it to redeem the great dramaful state of California following the Beverly Buzz Kills debacle. Tamra you do call the shots – to the bartender! Line ‘em up!
Things begin with Gretchen in her totes normal house with a totes normal bathroom, despite the rose petals on the floor. And that’s one thing I’ve always loved about Gretch. Her cutie little beach house that never turns into a McMansion she can’t afford. Gretch is curling her Kim Zolciak Weave Collection wig while wearing over-the-knee boots with a white denim jacket when Slave walks in. He wants to know what she’s late for? Just lunch. Gretchen is elusive and Slave isn’t allowed to come with. He must stay home and pick up dog poop or something.
After using the word “Babe” about 300 times in five minutes, Gretchen confesses she is actually having lunch with her arch nemesis, Tamra! Cue the suspenseful music! The two evil queens of Orange County will meet with each other in a blonde vs. blonde face-off, to once and for all, bury the hatchet!
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO READ THE REST!
On tonight’s season 7 premiere, Peggy Tanous, who is no longer on the show, makes a brief return as she and Alexis Bellino come face-to-face for the first time since Alexis found out that Peggy dated her husband Jim, “meanwhile, Tamra must work hard in order to make ends meet and is trying to increase her real estate sales. Enter super rich Heather Dubrow who is looking for a new lot to build on. Tamra befriends Heather, but will the other ladies welcome Heather into their inner circle or will this only create more drama between the ladies?”
The show debuts tonight on Bravo at 9/8c and a preview clip is below!
Moving on to Gretchen Rossi, 33, as the outspoken blonde, talks of her feud with Vicki Gunvalson and takes serious issue with Vicki’s treatment of Slade Smiley, considering Vicki’s new boyfriend Brooks Ayers also has issues with child support. “Vicki has always had a lot to say about Slade and his issues with paying child support, she always has an opinion on it,” says Gretchen to The BPlot blog. “Yet now, she’s dating a man who has had similar issues. She’s still being judgmental and a hypocrite. It escalated from there.”
Gretchen said the fight (the one that’s been shown on the previews) exploded over Vicki’s ignorance about Slade’s son Grayson‘s illness. Gretchen admits she “kind of lost it” when Vicki implied Gretchen doesn’t understand what it’s like to have a sick child. Vicki’s daughter, Briana Wolfsmith, has been seen dealing with health problems the past couple seasons. “Slade’s son … has been sick for multiple years, and I just thought she was really out of line,” Gretchen seethes. “That’s really where you kind of see me kind of blow my gasket with her.”
Gretchen is, however, happy she is no longer at odds with Tamra Barney. “I saw myself last season on camera, and I was just a very bitter, angry, resentful person,” she says. “I just kind of woke up one day and realized that’s not who I am.” That made Gretchen realize it was time to let it go and move forward.
I’m still not totally buying this sudden friendship between Gretchen and Tamra Sue. Perhaps I’ll have a change of heart once the new season begins airing!
In a separate interview with Life & Style magazine, Gretchen also discusses making babies with Slade! Though she’s still not ready to marry him.
“I know I want to have babies,” Gretchen tells Life & Style. “But I don’t know if I should have babies without being married, and I don’t know if I really want to be married yet.” Gretchen also promises we’ll see “a lot of personal contemplation” about her predicament on the new season. Err wasn’t that her storyline last season???
Finally, newbie Heather Dubrow is speaking out about joining the show in an interview with Ology. And in somewhat of a shocker, Heather reveals she had never watched the series before deciding to sign on! “I think me coming to the show is sort of interesting, because I’ve never seen the show. I came in with fresh eyes and met everyone for the first time,” says Heather, adding that she started filming two days after agreeing to join the cast.
When asked how she got along with her castmates, Heather reveals she and Alexis Bellino had the most drama! “I’m really enjoying their friendships. Out of everyone though, I would say Alexis and I have had some friction, which I guess you’ll have watch to see what happens.”
Heather was also asked about the jab by Gretchen which has been shown repeatedly on the Bravo network for the new season promo. In the promos, Gretchen reveals she has never heard of Heather before, who can be seen telling everyone she meets that she’s an actress. Heather states, “Oh, it didn’t bother me. I’ve never gone by Heather Dubrow in my professional life, so I wouldn’t expect her or anyone to know.” Right Heather, because I’m sure everyone knows who Heather Paige Kent is!
The new season preview is below!
TELL US – THOUGHTS ON HEATHER & GRETCHEN’S COMMENTS? PLUS THOUGHTS ON THE NEW SEASON PREMIERE?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE THE PREVIEW!
Tamra Barney, a four season veteran of the reality show, is talking about what viewers can expect besides plastic surgery, bickering, and tanning!
Discussing her newly repaired relationship with former nemesis Gretchen Rossi, Tamra admits the show encouraged them to keep the drama high! “Well, as you know, there was a lot of outside input that led to our bad relationship. Then it just escalated,” Tamra explains to The B Plot.”It got to the point where we were verbally attacking each other for the sake of the show.”
“It just felt time to build a bridge and get over it. In the process of doing that, we’ve realized that we really like each other and we get along really well. We’ve become extremely close through this adventure.”
Surprisingly boyfriendsSlade Smiley and Eddie Judge have also buddied up and have bonded over bicycles! “They’ve become pretty close. They both cycle, so they ride on the weekends. The four of us go out on weekends, so it’s nice.”
Tamra has also connected with new Housewife Heather Dubrow, whom she describes as “too nice.” “I liked Heather the minute I met her,” Tamra shares. “I worried, however, that she wasn’t going to fit in with the group. I mean, she’s so nice, classy and elegant. We don’t run like that on the show we don’t run like that. Haha. I honestly thought she would run from us. ”
Tamra is excited about what viewers will see of her life this season and she promises no more porno-moments! “Eddie got very camera shy after that,” she says referring to the infamous bathtub bare-all. “There will be no more steamy scenes.” #thankyoulord.
“You see a lot of me finalizing my divorce and figuring out how to put my life back in order. Even though I don’t film with my kids, I talk about them also so people will see me try to raise three kids who have a difficult time with the divorce,” Tamra reveals. “I also start several new business, which includes a fitness studio and a wine of the month club.”
When asked about the stress of embarrassing herself on a reality show, Tamra confessed she turns to alcohol to cope. Oh, dear… “I drink a lot. Haha,” she jokes. “I think for me, I just try not to take it too seriously. I know that I say things that piss the girls off and they say things that piss me off, so I’ll be mad for an hour and then I’m over it. You have to be that way, or you’d go crazy.”
Viewers will also see Vicki Gunvalson going through her divorce from Donn Gunvalson, whom she was married to for close to twenty years! Speaking to the Chicago Sun Times, Vicki talks about her history with Donn and her experiences this season! “I never would have guessed it — that our marriage wouldn’t make it — when we started this seven years ago,” Vicki confesses.
Vicki and Donn met when they were both working at a hardware store, of all places. “He got a job with Home Depot, and they moved us out here [to California],” she describes. “We had no intentions of being on a TV show. It just sort of happened.” Surprisingly, Vicki admits the show contributed to her marital issues, blaming the time commitments and pressure for driving the couple apart. Vicki did not mention Donn’s recent cancer diagnosis though she tweeted about it days ago.
Vicki also claims this season has been a positive one for her and she is excited to have people meet her new deadbeat man Brooks Ayers. “This season, I’m in a much better place,” she says. “I’m becoming the person I feel like I was always meant to be.”
Regardless of their issues, all the ladies promise the drama is still at a maximum. “No matter where you put cameras, there’s going to be drama,” Vicki assures us. “It doesn’t really matter what state you’re in. I think we’ve proven it with this franchise.”
Surprisingly, Jeana Keough and Peggy Tanous will also be back for a couple episodes. “Jeana does come back, we pick up where we left off,” Tamra hints.
Vicki also posted a picture of herself with Jerry Springer on Facebook. I wonder if he will be hosting the next reunion! We could only hope…
Real Housewives Of Orange County premieres February 7th at 9/10c on Bravo.
ARE YOU BUYING THIS FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN GRETCHEN AND TAMRA? SHOULD GRETCHEN TRUST HER? DO YOU THINK VICKI AND TAMRA ARE STILL FRIENDS?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE THE PHOTO OF VICKI AND JERRY!
After six seasons (and one on the way) of seeing their enhanced, tanned, Botoxed faces you would think we know all there is to know about the Real Housewives of Orange County. Apparently not! I guess they have gotten a newbie or two…
E! News recently did a little sit down with the first ladies of Bravo to dish about the show as the gals gear up for the new season, and they are giving us some new dirt on what’s to come.
First up, the ladies talk new arrival Heather Dubrow. They weren’t readily accepting of her entry into the club! “When I first met her I actually thought she was a little pretentious. I actually used the exact words that ‘I think she had a stick up her ass,’” Gretchen Rossi confesses.
“I was a little bit worried that she wasn’t going to fit in with the group, because she was so nice, so classy and yet so elegant. And with the girls on the show, we don’t always roll like that,” Tamra Barney laughs. Can I just say that is the most obvious statement that has ever come out of Bathtub Porn Tamra’s mouth!
Heather admits things got off to a rocky start with some of the ladies, “I would say out of everyone Alexis [Bellino]and I have had some friction, [but] I was pleasantly surprised how well we all got along.”
Gretchen also warns us that some serious tension arrives between her and matriarch Vicki Gunvalson over their mens’ respective child support issues. If you recall, it came out last year that Vicki’s new beau, Brooks Ayers, also had his own child support issues. In fact, he was once arrested for failure to pay over $40,000 in child support.
“Vicki had a lot to say about Slade [Smiley] and about his child support issues… I just feel like she was being a hypocrite — [her new boyfriend] had a similar situation as Slade yet she was still very judgmental towards Slade.” Yes, this show has TWO men with child support drama.
Speaking of Vicki’s man dramas, this season will tackle Vicki and Donn Gunvalson‘s impending divorce. “I don’t know if the show had anything to do with the collapse of [Vicki's] marriage,” Tamra reveals, “I know that it puts strain on your relationship, no doubt.”
“If the relationship is struggling, I think that the cameras might hone in on issues that you already have. The cameras don’t lie,” Gretchen added.
Oh, in case you hadn’t noticed, Tamra and Gretchen are doing this interview together, and there have been no reported screaming matches. The two have officially patched things up and now consider each other friends. Finally — after three seasons of petulance. “I knew that the only way to move forward was just to forgive and ask for forgiveness. It has become a very true and authentic friendship,” Gretchen shares.
“It was time to build a bridge and get over it. In the process of doing that we realized we really like each other,” Tamra readily admits. Good for you girls, bring the fun back!
The ladies also talked their best beauty tips and sum it up thusly as — GTD. Gym, Tan, Doctor. Speaking of doctor, Tamra discussed her recent downsizing. The mama of four, who will be shown getting the procedure done during the season finally wanted a classier look. Hopefully her behavior will follow suit!
“It’s been one of the best things I have ever done in my life,” Tamra gushes. “I feel a lot more confident without my implants. [With my implants] I felt like [my chest] was the first thing everybody looked at.” Tamra, who is 5’4, was previously sporting 34 DD’s. Eeks.
ARE YOU SURPRISED OR RELIEVED TAMRA AND GRETCHEN ARE FINALLY FRIENDS? DO YOU THINK IT WILL LAST? DO YOU THINK HEATHER WILL BE A GOOD ADDITION TO THE CAST?
As for what is to come this season, the press release reads: “Reeling from the repercussions of last season’s drama, the series once again ventures behind the gates for a salacious look at the love and lives unfolding inside one of Southern California’s wealthiest communities. This season Vicki Gunvalson, Tamra Barney, Gretchen Rossiand Alexis Bellinowelcome brunette bombshell Heather Dubrow.”
Andy Cohen also assures us this season will be one to watch! Andy tweeted yesterday, “Just watched two episodes of new season #RHOC – omg might be best season yet!!!”
In addition to newbie Heather, Bravo has also announced another new addition to the show — Sarah Winchester, who is being described as a “friend of the housewives” a la Brandi Glanville and Dana Wilkey of the RHOBH. A photo of Sarah is also below as well as her bio!
The new season premieres Tuesday, February 7 at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo.
Now that she is no longer the trophy wife type — swapping that moniker for “free bitch” — Tamra decided to lighten her load, apparently. Taking to her Facebook page the saucy Housewife explained why she is implanted no more!
“Lots of people have been asking me WHY I had my breast implants removed and here is my answer: I had them removed for several reasons, 1. I live a more active lifestyle now (working out and running) and they really got in the way. 2. I feel at 44 I am finally comfortable in my own skin and I don’t need big ta-ta’s to make me look better. 3. one of the biggest reasons, I had a scare with breast cancer and I thought it would be better to just have them removed,” Tamra explained.
I must say looking at a photo of Tamra from last year, all her hard work is paying off — she is looking great! She’s definitely lost weight, toned up and looks much healthier. Additionally, removing the implants has given her a much classier look. Now if only she could do something about that hair…
“I am so happy I did it and will share more about my journey on season 7 that airs Feb 7,” she added. No word on when she had them removed. Tamra also took to her Facebook to defend new BFFL Gretchen Rossi!” I know this comment is going to shock the shit out of you….. However, there was some Gretchen bashing on my page and I won’t have it. The video of her naked is NOT to sell purses its for breast cancer awareness,” Tamra seethed referring to some topless shots of Gretchie Poo that can be seen in the new OC trailer.
“I think she was very brave and looks amazing in the video. I think a lot of people will be surprised to see how things have changed between us… HELL WE EVEN ARE!” Ok, then…
In other RHOC news, Bravo released a new trailer for the upcoming season and Vicki Gunvalson is coming unhinged! Get it together girl! You can view the video below.
Real Housewives of Orange County premieres on Bravo February 7th (9/10c).
[Photos Credit: SPLASH, Facebook]
THOUGHTS ON TAMRA’S NEW BUSTLINE? CLASSIER OR STILL THE SAME OLD TAMMIE SUE? ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW SEASON OF RHOC?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO WATCH THE NEW TRAILER!
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.