More Shakeups at Bravo
First was the leaked email announcing that Lauren Zalaznick was leaving NBCUniversal after only seven month in her new job – after spending 12 years with the company and responsible for much of the programming including the Housewives Franchise. This is not completely unexpected –
” Industry insiders had speculated that Zalaznick’s new role was merely a placeholder in the wake of NBCU giving many of her former responsibilities running Bravo and Oxygen to Hammer, who is now at the top of the network’s powerful, lucrative cable properties.”
About the same time Lauren’s departure was announced, new Bravo and Oxygen president Frances Berwick announced a reorganization, naming eight executives to her senior management team:
- Rod Aissa, SVP Development and Production, Oxygen Media
- Andy Cohen, EVP Development and Talent, Bravo Media
- Jennifer Geisser, SVP Communications, Bravo and Oxygen Media
- Mike Haggerty, SVP Research, Bravo and Oxygen Media
- Lisa Hsia, EVP Digital, Bravo and Oxygen Media
- Jerry Leo, EVP Program Strategy and Acquisitions Bravo and Oxygen Media, and Production Bravo Media
- Ellen Stone, EVP Marketing, Bravo and Oxygen Media
- Holly Tang, CFO Bravo and Oxygen Media
And this weekend came the announcement that Christian Barcellos — “who most recently served as vice president production, executive producer at Bravo, where he oversaw five incarnations of the “Real Housewives” franchise,” has been “hired as executive vice president of lifestyle and reality programming for Fox International Channels.”
First Episodes – and Flashback Bravo by NMD
Yesterday Bravo aired the first episodes of several of its Real Housewives Franchises – Orange County, New York, Beverly Hills, and Atlanta. What a riot seeing the ladies as they were introduced to the world. I’ve done a mini-recap of New York, and a fuller recap of Orange County.
The Real Housewives of New York – Episode One – Season One
They really packed an episode back then. It was as thought they took months of footage and put it together to give us a picture of these women. Much of the episode was the women interacting with their families.
Ramona was the first lady we were introduced to. She was bringing the wild and sexy, with a twelve year old Avery cringing and telling her to tone it down. Ramona was also shown getting her beauty treatments to stay young (it worked) and Mario showed us his jewelry line, with Avery in every scene. Then they headed to the Hamptons and threw a huge pool party. Who can forget Ramona in her bikini being pushed in the pool by her friend Cindy, and threatening to retaliate by throwing Cindy’s dog in the pool with Avery yelling at her to stop, and Mario flirting with all her friends. Ramona also spent a lot of time with a sexy tennis pro training for her upcoming match with Jill.
I didn’t remember how strained the relationship was between Ally and Bobby. Jill had been married to Bobby for seven years by then, but Ally and Bobby never talked. Much of the episode was Jill trying to convince Ally to go to a fat farm (she was 14) for her arthritis, and convince Bobby to pay for it. There were some very painful scenes with a family friend advising Ally to make an effort with Bobby – culminating in the worst hug in history as she thanks him for paying for the expensive treatment. Jill also wheedled a private plane for the trip. One of her opening scenes was sitting in a limo explaining what it takes to stay in her elite social circle – and then having her go through a pile of invitations explaining how she has to pick and choose because she gets invited to so many things. After they get to the Hamptons there was a long scene with her tennis pro as he explained Ramona’s weaknesses to give hints to Jill on how to beat her during their “match” that summer.
Bethenny sold herself as a natural chef back then, but thankfully her name dropping was edited out. Many awkward scenes with Jason One, who clearly didn’t want to discuss anything on camera – including when they might move in together. She explains a little about how you can “hide” your lack of wealth in NY by living in a tiny apartment but the moment you step out looking fly. Not so in the Hamptons where everyone can see your huge home, so she avoided the Hamptons.
Simon and Alex. Right from the beginning these two were jointed at the hip. Their children were one and three, and much of their screen time focused on their pretentiousness as they explained the sort of life they imagined for the boys – private schools, travel abroad, etc. They eschewed the Hamptons for St Barths in the summer (which we later found out was the bargain season). Perhaps that was why Bethenny talked about how you couldn’t hide your lack of wealth in the Hamptons. Then we were treated to an outrageous shopping spree as Alex modeled outfit after outfit for Simon’s approval, and they racked up a huge bill on the spot. And then there was Simon in the speedo.
LuAnn, the Count, their kids, and Rosanna rounded out this crew. The three adults were in a lot of the interviews explaining about their lifestyle. They had – by far – the best home in New York, as well as the Hamptons home. LuAnn explained the British system and how she ended up a Countess. She also explained that she was invited to a lot of events and had to pick and choose who she’d honor with her presence. Rosanna did all of the actual work running the household. As they got ready for the Hamptons she packed up everything and got them out the door. In the Hamptons, the kids were given a new puppy, and Noel explained that Rosanna was bummed because their last dog wasn’t house broken, and she had to clean up after it all the time. LuAnn gave the kids a list of chores with the dog, but laughed and said that Rosie would end up taking care of it in the end. I miss Rosie.
And with that the ladies were off …. who’d have guessed that they’d bring us all together 🙂
The Real Housewives of Orange County – Season One – Episode One
These are the ladies that started the Real Housewives franchise. As the story goes, they were casting for a show in an exclusive planned community in Orange County. But after shooting footage of a bunch of families, they decided to focus on the housewives, not the teenagers. And so a franchise was born. The first season was only seven episodes.
Jeana Kough is the first housewife we’re introduced to. She explains that she is a former actress, model, and playmate. Her photo caught the eye of athlete Matt Kough, who had his agent research her. After determining that she didn’t do drugs and was from Wisconsin. Most importantly, she had the build to breed athletes. So after his mom gave the approval Matt proposed, and they were married when Jeana was 18. Matt is a second generation baseball player. Their oldest son, Shane, was groomed to be a baseball player. They even moved schools to get him on a better team, but he messed up grades and couldn’t play.
We get to see the scene that they showed at the anniversary show, with Kara (16) whining that she is always stuck with hand-me-down cars (a Mercedes) and her mom can prove she loves her by buying her a new car.
There is tension in the Kough household as they wait to see if Shane is drafted. He comments that with his genetics and training, it would be a waste of 18 years of playing baseball if he wasn’t drafted. (How much pressure is on this young man.) Matt comments that he doesn’t think there’s much of a chance for Shane. Jeana thinks Shane blew it with the bad grades and not getting enough playing time for exposure. After the first day of the draft, no one has picked up Shane.
Day 2 of the draft – 36th round – Shane gets drafted by the Oakland A’s. Both Jeana and Matt seem disappointed that he wasn’t drafted by the 6th or 7th round. Jeana also mentions that Kara made varsity volleyball. She explains that Kara negotiated that Jeana would pay her 500 dollars if she made the varsity team. Kara comes home and demands her money.
Kimberly and her husband moved to Orange County, and she’s proud to be a housewife and trophy wife. She’s particularly proud of her new double D’s. We see her working out, and taking her middle-school daughter to get her makeup done professionally.
Jo and Slade are dating. Jo tells us that Slade used to be a model, and we get to see photos of a much more attractive Slade. Jo explains that she’s 24 and Slade is training her to be a perfect housewife. He shares custody of his two children, and there is a lot of footage of Slade being dad to both boys, with Grayson only 5 at the time. It’s probably bittersweet footage to watch considering how much Grayson has gone through in the last few years. Slade explains that he started earning 6 figures when he hit his 30s.
Jo is just a party girl, and as we see Slade at home parenting, she’s out drinking. She phones home drunk, not even knowing what time it is.
Slade has a sit down with Jo telling her that he’d rather her stay and help with the kids rather than go out and party. She says she’s young and needs to go out and live life. Jo fights back and accuses him of going out and partying all day every day (which is his job). She’s coming off as a superficial twit. He comments that he’s given her everything – a great house and he pays all her bills – and that he’s a great catch.
Jo is wandering around and finds a group of women (including Kimberly) and asks if they live in her community. They ask her to sit down with them. She explains that she’s lived in the community over a year but doesn’t leave the house. She then goes on to whine about her life (she’s absolutely bored). Kimberly gives her a little pep talk about finding her own life.
The first episode closes with Jo getting all dressed up in sexy outfits. She explains that she really wants to make things work with Slade, as she drinks copious amounts of wine and changes in front of the camera crew. She calls him and tells him to come home. The show ends with her straddling him.
Vicki is the same Vicki. We’re introduced to her in her home office, working working, working. Brianna comes in and says she’s running late for her hair appointment to get ready for prom. Vicki goes with her to the appointment, and does that annoying, controlling thing the entire way through – fussing about what Brianna’s date is going to wear (white tux) and the tightness of Brianna’s curls. She tells her not to have sex that night. Brianna calls her annoying. You think?
Vicki explains that she got married and divorced young, and had to figure out a way to make money. Now she’s a successful insurance agent.
Vicki is also preparing for Brianna’s graduation, and has bought tickets for her mom, brother Billy, and ex-husband Mike to come out to Orange County. She says she’s not pleased about having Mike in her home, but feels that it is necessary. Brianna voices over that her dad hasn’t been in her life at all, and Vicki is both mom and dad. She doesn’t mention Donn, but he’s shown washing a car and calling Vicki a real “go-getter.” Vicki’s son Mike is a freshman in college, and will be flying home for Brianna’s graduation.
Brianna’s graduation party is the first of Vicki’s backyard parties we’ll see on the show. Brianna mentions that Vicki will do anything for her and they are really close. Ex-husband Mike says that they met while he was a bagger in a grocery store and she was a cashier. He avoided her line because she was so quick and he couldn’t keep up. They were never a good match – she was far more driven and wanted nice stuff. Young Mike echos that – and says his mom still likes nice stuff, and now she’s all over him to get a career. She tells young Mike he has a year to get a job or he’s cut off.
We’re introduced to Lauri about halfway through the episode. She explains that Vicki took a chance on her because she was left with nothing after her divorce. She is very upset about not living in her gated community any more. Her oldest daughter is in college, but we get to see a young Josh (he was just arrested) and her younger daughter.
Lauri’s college aged daughter Ashley comes home with her puppy – after telling Lauri that they need to talk. Ashley has decided she wants to move back in with her mom – that she’s done with school for now and it’s hard living on her own and paying her own bills. Lauri is a little taken aback since she doesn’t have an extra bedroom, and Ashley wants her own room and doesn’t want to work.
Next up we see Lauri and a friend out partying, looking for dates.
This was more about these women’s lives than their forced interactions. The “drama” was in their over the top lifestyles, their quirks and pretentiousness, and their struggles to fit in or stay on top. Many say the franchise changed with the Table Flip. That one episode put the franchise on the map and brought in ratings. The problem is – it’s impossible to recapture something like that without it being fake and contrived, which is why Bravo finds itself in the situation it is in now.
Happy Birthday Shannon