Exclusive Interview with Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen from Couples Therapy
Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen are appearing on Season 2 of Couples Therapy. Last week’s episode heavily featured the couple, and with all the comment and questions on the Blog I asked Simon if he’s answer some questions for us.
Before we get to the questions, I wanted to share what Simon wrote in the email about LuLu’s blogging the show: “Thank Lulu and her husband for doing the Couples Therapy blogs. Having both a wife & a husband writing has added to the Venus/Mars context of any (heterosexual) married couple.”
I’d like to thank both Alex and Simon for taking the time to answer our questions. As you will see, they gave thoughtful, thorough answers to our questions. They also gave a gentle reminder (in the JoJo and Tiny question) that much of what we read in the tabloids is rumor – beware of “unnamed” sources. With that – please enjoy the interview.
Questions were from me (NoMoreDrama -NMD), LuLu and LoveMamaEarth (LME) who was watching the show and commenting as I was putting together the questions.
NMD. Let’s start with a silly question. I have to ask about the Speedo. After all the grief you got about wearing a Speedo on The Real Housewives of New York in Season 1, didn’t you think twice about being filmed in one on Couples Therapy?
Simon: When we packed, all we knew was that we might be in LA for as long as 21 days and would be filming 24/7. I didn’t know whether I’d need a Tuxedo or Speedos, so I took both and just about everything in between. I took several pairs of board shorts and in addition that pair of Speedos, as, well ….. you just never know. When Courtney & Doug left the house, it was hot, I felt like a swim and I thought I’d make a statement about attire that’s appropriate for the venue; in this place a swimming pool, and I did. Did I also guess that that footage would probably end up being used on air? Damn right – may as well use some of this Reality TV experience I’ve gained while I am still in front of the camera!
Alex: I think the world would be a better place if more men felt comfortable enough in their own skin to wear speedos.
NMD: How long were you in the Therapy House?
Simon: We were in LA for just under three weeks and in the house for a little more than two weeks.
Lulu: Did Dr Jenn behave differently in her therapy once the camera was off?
Simon: No, that’s one thing I can say for certain, the Dr Jenn you saw on screen was same as the one that we always saw. Remember the cameras were always on in every session from beginning to end and she, like us, had really no idea at that time what footage would make it to air. In addition, all the rooms including the bedrooms had 360 degree cameras mounted in the ceiling, that were recording 24/7. The only time we were free of cameras was in the bathroom and even in there, there were microphones taped to the ceiling to listen in!
Alex: Agreed, and I’d open that up to say that almost everyone behaved exactly the same way throughout.
LuLu: Was there more animosity between the rest of the cast and “Dourtney” than was shown?
Simon: Not really, most of it made it to air; generally we all just tried to co-exist and they only really got up our goat in group. In this week’s episode, I’m guessing based on the previews, you’ll see an argument between Doug & me that occurred just after they returned from exile. Prior to that when Courtney was out of the house (she could only be on set 7 hours each day) Doug would hide in his room and had very little interaction with any of us.
Alex: Nope, you saw the worst of it.
NMD: We (people commenting on the site) were a little taken aback by Dr. Jenn’s behavior after “Dourtney” left the house. She seemed to be blaming you (the other couples) for her inability to get through to them. What did you feel at that time about her behavior? How do you feel about it now that you’ve had a chance to watch the episode?
Simon: In the very first group session on Day 1, I had a go at her about them being cast on the show, and presumably as it was too close to the 4th wall, wasn’t shown. Given Alex & I had four years of Reality TV experience, we were wise to the many tricks producers have up their sleeves. Fortunately, the casting (and perhaps return) of Dourtney was the only trick played by VH1. In that first post-Dourtney session Alex was damned pissed with Dr Jenn and forcefully said her piece. I was more dismissive when I said something like “OK you’ve had your little ‘Lord of the Flies’ experiment, can we move on now” which upset her, but I do think blind Freddy could have predicted what transpired with the house splitting 8 to 2.
NMD: Does Alex regret stuffing the dollars in Courtney’s outfit?
Alex: Given everything that happened before and after…no. Did we all regress to being 17? Yes. If we had it all to do again, would it play out with a similar level of intensity? Yes.
NMD: JoJo and Tiny were on the show with you. They’ve just announced that they are getting a divorce. Have you kept in touch with them since the show stopped filming? What is your reaction to the news of their divorce?
Simon: I’ve not seen that confirmed and I’m more than aware that the internet is always rife with rumors that aren’t true, and therefore won’t comment more than that.
Alex: Please remember that just because a gossip website announces something, doesn’t mean it’s true. You can’t say that “they announced it” unless they actually did. Unnamed sources could be anybody saying anything.
LoveMamaEarth: Is therapy harder when the parents are deceased? Were there things you would have liked to discuss with your parents (like Alex got a chance to talk through with her mom)?
Simon: I won’t go into it here, but I had a child hood trauma associated with my father’s death when I was five that irked me for years. I left Australia in 1986 and since then have not had a great deal of face time with my Mother, at least not face time when such memories can be discussed. However when I traveled to Australia alone in 2007 (during filming for RHoNY Season 1), for my Mother’s husband’s funeral, I broached it with her then. I’m not sure her answer changed my viewpoint on it 37 years after it occurred, but perhaps now that I am also a parent, I can appreciate that she made a decision that at the time she thought was best. I was 5 when my father died, which in of itself doesn’t make therapy harder, but it causes you memories one would rather not have.
LME: Did Alex’s breakthrough with her mother help your relationship?
Simon: No, at least not yet. As those scenes have only aired recently, I suppose that’s still a moving issue. I was thrilled that her mother joined Alex in LA. Alexis had filmed in Season 1 RHoNY but her scenes at Francois’ 4th birthday with us & Bethenny were cut, as having Alexis on film would have been counter productive to the ‘story’ Bravo were constructing around us as the ‘wannabe outsiders’.
Alex: It’s probably all relative in the long run, but there have definitely been wonderful conversations that Mom and I have had following the filming as well as the airing of those moments.
LME: In the end, did having Courtney as part of the group hinder or help with your progress? Did you feel Dr Jenn was helpful overall?
Simon: I don’t think it hindered but it most definitely didn’t help. If anything their presence sucked up a lot of oxygen and meant we wasted time discussing them when we would have been better off discussing important things.
Alex: They really tried to hijack the group process, but in the end (speaking for us anyway) we got what we needed. There was plenty of time that they weren’t around due to Courtney being off-set and Doug hiding while she was away.
LME: What was the hardest thing about being in the lime light? What was the hardest thing about losing the lime light? And were those things different for Alex?
Simon: When we burst onto the scene in January 2008, we did so via a 30 min RHoNY preview that Bravo then aired incessantly until the first episode aired in early March. That preview contained just 22 minutes of footage and about four minutes was on each of the five cast members and their families. Each four minute segment utilized the most stereotypical footage of each wife, as well as footage that, particularly without the benefit of context, made each look foolish. At least that was the case for four; as the show was being edited and put together one cast member was hand picked by Bravo to receive the Greek Chorus edit and to her credit she ran with it and still is!
Once that preview aired and then as the season progressed we suddenly went from not being recognized to effectively having no privacy whatsoever. If you’re a highly paid film star you can probably afford to deal with those consequences but first season of Reality TV shows then paid a pittance and as such we’d lost so much for so little but you can’t turn the clock back.
I’m not sure we’ve lost the limelight yet, whatever that is, but when we do I’ll let you know. If we do nothing else on television, I think it’ll take about three years to fade from memory. Then maybe we can do another VH1 show – ‘Where Are They Now!’ 😉
Alex: Whether as an actress or a reality personality, I’ve always barely tolerated the “limelight” part of it. Although I love the actual work of broadcasting, making movies, TV shows and theatre, the public appearance part of it really gives me hives. While it’s fair to say that many people enjoy walking red carpets and attending parties, I don’t like that part of it. BUT, until we re-invent the industry, it’s part of the gig.
NMD: What’s next for Simon and Alex?
Simon: That chapter’s still being written, but if Couples Therapy is the last Reality TV show we do, I’d rather have it on my epitaph than RHoNY. Putting aside the D&C freak show side of it, this show was a truly moving and positive experience for Alex, me, Alex & me and Alex & her Mother and that’s something I can not say for our time on RHoNY.
Alex: I remember having a heart-to-heart with one of the Couples Therapy producers, who said they hoped we’d have a corrective experience with CT, and I think we absolutely did. I’m really enjoying covering pop culture for various media outlets (currently doing the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for Celebuzz ( See it here ) and writing. I have also really enjoyed the various Mom’s panel projects for outlets like Café Mom, and a new show that will begin airing later this month – as soon as I get the press release for that I’ll share it with you.
Thanks again Alex and Simon! NMD
Million Dollar Decorators by JoJoBinxsMom
The second season of Million Dollar Decorators is here. I must admit, this was a guilty pleasure of mine last year and couldn’t wait for the second season to premier. While last season we were invited into the extravagant decorating world of Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Mary McDonald, Kathryn Ireland, Jeffrey Alan Marks and Nathan Turner, this season we are down to four designers losing out on Nathan Turner.
The first episode opens with Kathryn Ireland at home with her sons in light conversation of her overnight trip with her French maid Jacqlene to Santa Barbara. In typical guy style, Kathryn’s sons think of a logical activity while mums out of town, PARTY. Jacqlene could completely care less as she is promised wine and really all other conversation is really of no concern to her.
Next up to grace us with their presence is the big dog in town, Martyn Lawrence Bullard. See he is very important and you must say his entire name. I mean for Pete’s sake he’s the top designer in the world, or America, or the world…….. Or who the hell knows. He greets his partner from the balcony and tells him he will be down for tea. See that’s something only the big dogs do. Us regular folk would just walk to the courtyard and have the tea! Martyn and his partner discuss how they wish they were still in Fiji. Martyn then discusses that he is going away to New York to meet up with Tamara Mellon, none other than Jimmy Choo herself to finish up work on her very grand apartment.
Across the great metropolis that is Los Angeles, we see Mary McDonald who by the way is my favorite on the show. She’s quick and funny and in the design game where you deal with very rich opinions all day, quick wit is a must. Mary arrives at the home of her client Margie. Margie is very rich. Not Nene rich, but rich RICH! She is wanting Mary to decorate the guest house which consists of two bedrooms, a living room and a small sitting room. For some reason right away I could smell the difficulty oozing off of Margie, and well I was right. Margie wants lavender, lilac and creams. Caramels and teaks. Then in one room to make her guest really think she has lost her mind, she wants bright colors, red. She wants it to sing. Liberace style. Mary gives her the stare of death as she had something a bit different in mind. Mary would prefer the entire guest house to be California Beachy. Soft, classic colors and style. Layering of textures. This apparently is all too much for Margie the Queen, oh sorry I mean Margie the client and she begins to ignore Mary and have a conversation with her dog Monty and of course asking his input because the dog has a background in design. Mary the dog lover herself is looking at this charade but plays along because in this field that’s just what you do. She goes in to talk to Monty and he almost snaps her nose off. What a lovely little guy that Monty is.
We are off to New York with Martyn Lawrence Bullard as he arrives to his clients Tamara Mellon’s home, the home that Jimmy Choo built. It’s a beautiful 9,000 sq. ft. apartment that only cost $30 million. Can you imagine? In any case, the apartment is gorgeous.
Martyn says that the apartment has been a work is progress for the last two years and he and Tamara are coming up on the final stage, the dining room and Tamara’s 10 year old daughter’s room Minty. Rich people have great names. This phase of the project has a budget of a million.
Tamara has finally gotten the okay from her 10 year old daughter to change the dining room which is currently the play room back into the dining room so that she may host sexy New York dinners. Tamara, not the ten year old Minty.
In exchange for sacrificing so much just to please her mother, Minty will be getting a new bedroom designed by Martyn. Oh what a lovely life.
Back in Los Angeles, Mary and Margie go shopping for furniture. Margie spots a woven rush rope chair that she loves. She sits in it and is asked if it is comfortable. She could care less as it is going into the guest house. The sales associate tells Margie she must spend at least one night in the guest bedroom so that she gets an idea of what her guest might feel when staying over. The sales associate ask Mary if she has done that in her own home and Mary replies that if she had it wasn’t on purpose, she just might have been too drunk to get upstairs. See, and lines like that is why I love her.We check in with Kathryn who stops at a job site in Ojai before her relaxing trip to Santa Barbara with Jacqlene. You gotta love Jacqlene. While Kathryn is in conversation with the contractors, Jacqlene stumbles in to let Kathryn know its wine time and that she will be waiting in the car, or by the gate. I guess whichever is closer to the wine. Me seems to think she doesn’t need any more wine. Slightly embarrassed, Kathryn okays her away and tries to finish her conversation with the contractors.
In New York, Martyn’s client Tamara has received the boards for the design and is in love with them. Martyn arrives to go into further detail about what he wants to do with the dining room and Minty’s room. In the dining room, Martyn uses design terms such as 70’s glamour and disco frenzy to describe what he would like to achieve. This will include a white marble table. So far, not too bad. Red leather dining chairs. Okay, now I’m getting a little nervous. Black patent leather drapes. Okay, what the hell? Tamara is not fazed by any of it and loves it and admits that the 70’s is her favorite decade. Then the design moves on to Minty’s room. Since Minty no longer is into pink and would like blue and purple, Martyn has come up with a rather cute design. Minty will have a lovely four poster purple bed that will house a desk below. Blue geometric wallpaper and a silver ceiling. So far I am on board with the design of Minty’s room. I just am not sure about the dining.
Martyn goes out shopping for Tamara. First things first is the white marble dining table which is going to be custom made and comes to a cost of $50,000. Next up are other items for the dining room. The Paul Evans dining chairs coming in at a cool $20,000. Then there are the chandeliers easing in at $28,000. These numbers seem pretty out there for items but what you must know is that there are two sets of pricing. A list or retail price and then there is the designer or net price. For the sake of drama, I am guessing they were listing the retail pricing on screen in which Martyn paid considerably less when he walked out the door with these items. We have to get back to the dining table which became the bone of contention for most of this episode. The table was a 3,000 lb white marble slab that Martyn soon found out would take a miracle to get into the apartment. In fact, it was going to take $10,000, shutting down busy New York streets, some permits, a crane and the grace of God to get that table into the apartment. But before all of that could happen, everything in the apartment had to be done. Of course on the day the table arrives, nothing is done. Because Martyn only has the crane for two hours, he is going to have to bring in the beautiful black and white rug, place it then yank that ridiculously heavy table over the terrace and place it. Cover the table and rug and pray the painters don’t get bright red paint all over it. The install was turning into a nightmare minute by minute.
Kathryn makes it to Santa Barbara only to visit a winery in which Jacqlene hits on the man serving them. She tells him he has beautiful eyes and a beautiful face and that he should give his number so that she can call him. Jacqlene is great. She wastes no time and goes right for the jugular. Of course the server looks uncomfortable and doesn’t know what to say so he just nervously continues to talk about the wine as if he didn’t get undressed with Jacqlenes wine filled eyes. Kathryn enjoying every bit of this tells the man he should move to France where older women are more desired. If the server could, he would have just dropped the bottle and ran.
Jeffrey Allan Marks makes a very small appearance with his younger lover boy toy that made no sense and frankly I am not sure why Bravo even put it in the episode. Basically they are both in a wine cellar sipping wine and saying how tired they are and somewhere in there ice cream comes up and then just as soon as they were there, they were gone.
Mary is at Margie’s house to oversee the application of the grass cloth wallpaper. Mary is not a fan of the color as it is puke green. Something only someone needing an exorcist would love. Margie decides to grace them with her lovely presence and brings along her good friend Monty, the snappy designing dog. When Margie walks in she immediately hates the wallpaper. Of course, she thinks it’s to green. She wants to know who picked it. I’m sure in Mary’s head she is thinking “you did, you crazy lune” but reminds Margie politely that she signed off on it. Margie being the least forgetful person says she did not and wants it taken down. Mary and the man applying the wallpaper remind Margie that all of it has been cut and would be very expensive to replace. Like in the ball park of $10,000. Margie doesn’t care and with a frustrated look as if she has to re-do the work demands that the wallpaper be taken down. Oh, and that little monster Monty snaps again. A muzzle wouldn’t hurt for that dog or Margie at this point.
Back in New York the table is in, however the fireplace is not. Martyn has already written a check to a man who was to design the fireplace and install it. At this point he is nowhere to be found. Martyn sends his assistant Leura (by the way, what happened to just regular spelling of names) to the location where the fireplace is being built. Of course when Leura arrives, it’s a residential address and doesn’t look like much of anything is being built here. All Martyn can do at this point is notify the police and find something to cover up what is essentially a gaping hole in the middle of a polished dining room. Martyn finds a gold console that in any other room would be over the top but in the Disco Frenzy dining room makes sense.
Finally after all the headaches on the project, Martyn has completed it and is time to reveal to Tamara and Minty. Tamara loves the dining room and can’t wait to entertain. The red walls pop against the classic white trim. The patent leather drapes aren’t so bad except for the fact that they are patent leather. Really I think Martyn could have achieved the same look with polyester drapes. Polyester came out of the 70’s too right? The table is gorgeous and is the staple for the dining room. The red leather dining chairs are wonderful against the dining table.
Off the Minty’s new room. Minty and Tamara both love it. It really was a beautiful space when was said and done and was definitely fit for a soon to be teenager.
Back in LA its installation day at Margie’s and Mary is there to oversee it all. She hopes that Margie will not show up while installing and display all of her crazy so they rush to get it all done. As the last items are being placed, Margie walks in. There is no expression on her face which immediately changes the expression on Mary’s.
Margie is silent and expressionless for so long that Mary ask her well do you like it. Margie, slow to reply says yes she does. The first bedroom has soft browns and beiges mixed in with great texture from the rugs to the walls.
The second bedroom is muted with pops of lilac to keep the eye going. The living room was pretty much tone on tone. Very muted but like the bedroom, lots of texture in the furniture and rugs.
Margie mentions that she likes everything except that she would like to put up one her hideous painting that in the room just looks like a complete mistake.
Week 8 Dancing with the Stars All-Stars, Veterans Day Elimination By COCFarm
Sorry to be MIA yesterday. Life happens. But to catch up to where we were last week, the first set of scores below were from last week. The second set of scores is what the dancers were awarded in two separate dance sequences. The first was a classical ballroom dance that honored our veterans. The second was a Latin dance that employed an extra dancer, referred to as a trio dance.
- Apolo & Karina: 33 + 58.5= 91.5/100
- Emmitt & Cheryl: 34.5 +58=92.5/100
- Kirstie & Maks: 28 + 51= 79/100
- Kelly & Val: 36 + 56.5 = 92.5/100
- Melissa & Tony: 39 + 60 = 99/100
- Shawn & Derek: 38 + 55.5 = 93.5/100
- Gilles & Peta: 33.5 + 58.5 = 92/100
Melissa was high scorer, getting a perfect 60 out of 60. The rest were pretty tight with the exception of Kirstie who cemented her position at the bottom of the leader board.
In the elimination, we first find that Melissa and Shawn are safe. Neither has to worry through the rest of the show.
One person of the remaining two women will be going home. It is between Kelly and Kirstie. Kelly looks on the verge of passing out. But luckily, she is safe and Kirstie is at long last heading home. She handles the news with humor and expresses her gratitude to have had the opportunity to participate in the show a second time.
At the end of the show, it’s down to the three men and one will be going home. I felt pretty secure it would be Apolo, just because he’s been there before, but alas, it is Gilles who has danced his last dance. He is also gracious, thanking Peta and his wife.
Next week, in the semi final round, each star will need to create two dances again. In the first, each dancer will perform to Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad.’ Their second dance, which is one they have never danced before, is paired with a theme:
- Melissa & Tony: “Caveman” Hustle
- Shawn & Derek: “Night Rider” Bangra
- Apolo & Karina: “Big Top” Jazz
- Emmitt & Cheryl: “Espionage” Lindy Hop
- Kelly & Val: “Surfer” Flamenco
Caveman hustle makes me laugh. It will be interesting to see how these work out. It seems to me as though almost all of the competitors just seem stressed and exhausted anymore. But the quirky dances are keeping it fresh for me.
See you next week for week 9. Stay safe.
Wednesday Night Lineup, November 14th by BB
8PM – Survivor (CBS); The X-Factor (Fox); Arrow (CW); Whitney/Guys with Kids (NBC); The Middle/The Neighbors (ABC); Baggage Battles (Trvl); A-List Listings (E!);
9PM – Life After Top Chef (Bravo); Criminal Minds (CBS); Supernatural (CW); Law and Order SVU (NBC); Modern Family/Suburgatory (ABC); Moonshiners (Discovery); The Houstons: On Our Own (Life); Toy Hunter (Trvl); Ghost Hunters (SYFY); South Beach Tow/Operation Repo (truTV); Border Wars (NatGeo); Who the Bleep Did I Marry? (ID); Not My Mamma’s Meals (Cook);
10PM – Top Chef (Bravo); Couples Therapy (VH-1); CSI (CBS); Chicago Fire (NBC); Nashville (ABC); Moonshiners (Discovery); Duck Dynasty (A&E); My Life is a Lifetime Movie (Life); Chili Paradise (Trvl); Cajun Pawn Stars (History); Deals from the Dark Side (SYFY); The Soup (E!); HHI (HGTV); Conspiracy Theory (truTV); Restaurant Stakeout (Food); Hell on the Highway (NatGeo); Eddie Murphy: One Night (Spike); Battle of the Seasons (MTV); The Devil You Know (ID); Undercovery Boss (OWN); American Horror Story (FX)
11PM – LOL Work (Bravo); 11:30 PM – WWHL; Gail Simmons and Peter Facinelli
New Recipes Page (You can always find it in the header)