Believe it or not, reality television stars have rules to follow. Their demonstrative actions are often motivated by alcohol or anger, which is par for the course. But certain things will get them in trouble with the big guys. Bodily dragging someone across the floor or falsely accusing someone of sexual assault isn’t high on the list of priorities, but the network does have standards.
Let’s take a look at the guidelines Real Housewives have to follow so they can maintain that check. Disclaimer: hair-pulling and butter-knife tossing are not on this list.
To become a Real Housewife, first, you must have a penchant for over-sharing. You must also enjoy every aspect of your life becoming topics for judgment from the masses. Once you are good on losing privacy and probably most of your sanity, you have to audition. Interested candidates send in audition tapes, go through home interviews, have extensive on-camera tests, and of course, they have to earn Andy Cohen’s stamp of approval. If you are lucky enough to have seen some old-school audition tapes, you already know.
According to the U.S. Sun, Pamela Gimenez, VP of Current Production on Real Housewives of Miami, said when looking to hire, casting directors focus on women already in touch with the current cast. Ultimately they want someone with an authentic connection so the addition will appear seamless. Or they will pick the person who is a current cast member’s closest nemesis. See Exhibit A: Melissa Gorga on Real Housewives of New Jersey. Andy said they specifically want “Someone who is willing to be open, live their life fully in front of the camera, someone with a point of view, someone hopefully who’s got a sense of humor or at least is funny or humorous, or different in some way.”
Get Your Own Glam
Real Housewives don’t pinch pennies when it comes to their looks. I’m not even sure if Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Dorit Kemsley has hair growing out of her own head. She is a literal chameleon and never looks the same way twice. But these women aren’t using Wet N Wild to beat their faces. They are using an actual team of professionals. While being fully made up appears to be a job requirement, Bravo doesn’t pay for glam. If Bravo paid for glam, Erika Jayne wouldn’t have had to brag about spending $40k a month to communicate through several layers of foundation and dig her legal hole even deeper.
In 2020, Real Housewives of New York alum Carole Radziwill talked about “glam gate” back in 2018. She told Page Six that Tinsley Mortimer took her glam on the infamous cast trip to Cartagena. Everyone (which probably loosely translates to Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan) was furious Tinsley’s team wouldn’t take care of them as well. “When new castmate Tinsley flew her glam team with her for a group trip to Cartagena in 2018, all hell broke loose after it became clear that they were there for Tinsley only,” Carole shared. Real Housewives glam can even be manipulated into a storyline in the event you have absolutely nothing else going on. Right, Dorit?
The Bethenny Clause
Being wealthy and attractive isn’t the only thing Real Housewives do. After they’ve seen others reaping the rewards of wine or books, they head into what I like to call, “the brand phase.” This is when their entire identity becomes focused on selling the viewing audience things they don’t need. But if your product starts to make money, Bravo will enter your chat.
According to CNBC, Bravo ran a contract by Bethenny Frankel stating the network would get a piece of any Skinnygirl stuff she promoted on screen. Basically, several people would have been able to finance their child’s full college tuition on Season 8 of RHONY alone. But Beth didn’t sign and was allowed to keep all of her earnings from THE BRAND. Obviously, this stung Bravo because Skinnygirl wound up being an enormous success. Via The List, now all cast must sign a contract that will afford Bravo a percentage of any moolah they make during the season. Bravo takes the whole “fool me once” thing very seriously.
If You Go, You Can’t Compete
As Wikipedia tells us, a non-compete clause is: “restrictive covenant, or covenant not to compete (CNC), is a clause under which one party (usually an employee) agrees not to enter into or start a similar profession or trade in competition against another party (usually the employer). Some courts refer to these as ‘restrictive covenants’. As a contract provision, a CNC is bound by traditional contract requirements including the consideration doctrine.” To put it simply, it’s a binding term in a contract that prevents working for or becoming the competition if you quit your gig.
Bravo doesn’t allow former cast members to take new opportunities after they leave the franchise. This is why former Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson wasn’t on another show immediately after her termination. On the other side of that is the hope someone else still wants to pay money to film your life. In 2020, Tamra Judge peaced out of RHOC after being demoted and receiving a humiliating pay cut. Tammy Sue pretty much left at the same time Vicki was fired. Dreams of a fun new show danced in their heads, but the Bravo non-compete clause woke them up pretty quickly. For up to 12 months they were unable to pursue other television opportunities unless they received special permission.
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No Suing For You!
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills walked so this particular addendum could run. If a Real Housewife has a problem, she can’t take it to the courts. Depending on which cast member we’re talking about, she may already be in court anyway. The Bravo contract states Housewives have to settle their disputes on the reunion couches rather than in the courtroom. Instead, they are judged by a court of opinion made up of a jury of viewers. Presiding over each case will be Big Daddy Andy who was judging them long before the reunion started.
In 2015, Brandi Glanville was sued by Real Housewives of Miami alum Joanna Krupa. She collects multiple cease-and-desist orders due to the flexibility of her lips and the sounds that emerge from her mouth. After receiving a C&D from Denise Richards, she appeared on an episode of The Rumour Mill podcast. She said, “I’m not gagged, I have a cease and desist, but that doesn’t mean I have to follow it.” Brandi added, “But after being sued by another housewife about two years ago, I’m just choosing to figure out when and where and how I can talk.”
Despite the clause, Brandi and production had to figure out a way to discuss her alleged hookup with Denise. It was clear Denise wasn’t playing around with that storyline. Brandi shared, “I have talked to the producers about trying to figure out a way because I’m not gonna talk about it if she’s gonna sue me. So they’re working on that, [because] you have contracts that say you can’t sue each other.” Housewives can submit the cease and desists to effectively silence a topic they don’t like, but they aren’t supposed to do it. If Denise tries to get her diamond back, you can almost guarantee the legal portions of her contract will be updated.
TELL US- DO YOU THINK REAL HOUSEWIVES SHOULD BE ABLE TO SUE EACH OTHER? DO YOU AGREE EVERYTHING SHOULD BE SAVED FOR THE REUNION? SHOULD BRAVO RELEASE ALL REAL HOUSEWIVES’ AUDITION TAPES?
[Photo Credit: Charles Sykes/Bravo ]