Producer-Driven Scripted Drama and Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives’ Series
TMZ reported that several lawyers and managers in Hollywood have banned together to tell clients to stay clear of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. According to TMZ: “The triggers for the boycott are Camille Grammer and Adrienne Maloof [both will NOT be returning to the show]. The way the show is structured, cast members can say ANYTHING about anyone on the show and get away with it, even if it’s inaccurate and malicious. Camille and Adrienne have — in the past — complained that other cast members have lied about their business ventures, including Adrienne’s Las Vegas casino, and they’ve had no legal recourse.” As one professional put it, “It’s fine if Brandi Glanville does the show. She doesn’t have anything going for her and the show makes her famous. But for someone who has a real business or career outside the show, they need to stay a mile away.” – TMZ, March 4, 2013, ‘Real Housewives of Bev Hills’ Move to BOYCOTT Show
Note: The following letter to FameWhorgas was originally published on September 26, 2012, and republished on March 6, 2013.
The following letter was sent by the author (who shall remain anonymous) to FameWhorgas on September 26, 2012, with permission to publish.
You are really on to something with how these shows work. I come from a show business family: my father, who recently died, was an old studio actor from way back in the day [edited out details about family connections in Hollywood to protect privacy].
When I was out to LA in March, we had a group of close friends out to dinner [edited out details to protect privacy] and some other execs in the industry; but the interesting part was that to my right was a young lady I had known forever, but I never knew what she did until that night. I asked her and she said, “I am a storywriter for Epic Productions.” I confirmed that that is her actual title. Her job is to put together the RHOC and RHOBH.
Here is what she told me. This has nothing to do with RHONJ, because I assume they use east coast people, but I assume the formula is basically the same.
I am telling you this to give you confidence in your producer-induced set up information. Not that it is directly helpful to you in any way. Just FYI.
Every Housewife has a producer/ storywriter assigned to them. I will call them producers from now on. In the case of the O.C., in the beginning of the season they write a rough draft of the story of the show and how they would like it to go.
It is true that they do not just randomly film them for hours on end hoping for something worthy of television. In the beginning, they suggest to the cast what they want the conflict to be. In your case [RHONJ], it would be tabloid magazines. The reason it seems like such a clusterfuck is because:
(a) it was a poorly chosen topic that the fans did not care about, and
(b) they didn’t get what they wanted out of the cast because Teresa didn’t care.
Here is a concrete example from RHOC:
Two producers get together after filming tons of footage of Vicky and Slade and Gretchen. They [producers] find something they know will piss off Vicky: this is what they look for. Slade’s kid has cancer. They are not allowed to mention it on camera — it is in the contract, but it is widely known. Slade says that Vicky knows nothing about cancer, her daughter’s cancer scare was nothing compared to what he has been through, she is just milking it for attention. They tell Vicky that Slade said this — hoping that the next episode they put together, Vicky will explode. Vicky can’t tell Slade off about what she really wants to tell him off about because it was told to her in confidence by a producer. So she goes off on him at Bunco night about something silly, and the audience thinks she is over-reacting to whatever he just said. They do this all the time.
They [producers] tell each of the other cast members things that they know are going to piss them off about another person so that when they film, they are full of grudges and rage against the person. When they want to start trouble, they usually go to a person who doesn’t mind coming off as a bitch. It is usually someone with a thick skin who really needs the money and can’t just quit. In this case, it is Tamra Barney — she will do whatever the producers ask her to.
Tamra also has some words for viewers who think that she comes across as a b***h on the Bravo reality TV hit… I was hired to do a job… I am not on the show to show the viewers what I want to show them… I was given a job and I’m doing it well. Andy Cohen refers to me as ‘the perfect Housewife!’ … I am not here to make friends and I tell every single one of the girls that. I’m here to do a job. I have Housewives from other franchises calling me and asking me ‘how do you do this?’ or ‘how do you balance this?’ … If I could I would ask to only show my purse line, or request to get my hair done every day, but that’s not reality. I do have a sarcastic side and Bravo only shows a certain percentage of you, so if that’s all they show… They don’t see me as a mom. They don’t see a lot of my life. You do see a lot of sarcasm because they love my one-liners.” – RadarOnline, March 6, 2013, Real Mean Girl Of Orange County! Tamra Barney Sinks Claws Into Gretchen Rossi, ‘Have You Heard Her Sing?’
Vicky won’t play; they [producers] hate her. They love Heather and especially her husband; they are producer favorites. They all despise Slade, and he has a babysitter to keep him out of meetings, etc.
Originally, it was Gretchen who was offered the wedding (free). She turned it down and they offered it to Tamra and Eddie. It would have been far more controversial for Gretchen and Slade to get married; and Slade knew it, and was holding out for a bigger wedding package when they called his bluff and offered it to Tamra and Eddie.
They have to have four major events every year that every cast member must attend. And they build off of that. That is why when see Caroline’s sour puss: it is because she would rather die than have Teresa and Joe at Jamie’s wedding or in Napa or be at the fashion show — but it is mandatory.
They [Bravo and producers] have been forbidden to discuss Taylor Armstrong or Russell’s suicide, ever. They kept Taylor on as a side housewife as they thought it would seem insensitive to fire her.
Some of the drama in these shows flows naturally (and they get a bonus out of it) and some of it is scripted. The cast knows what they have to do and say (not word for word, they don’t memorize script); and if they don’t get it on the first take, they have to film it over. So they will usually cooperate the first time around so they can go home.
Up until now, nobody has gotten caught scripting episodes, but the Cat [Rodriguez] let her feelings get in the way and went off the professional rails by becoming involved with Melissa. Which is why it is so chopped and edited in an attempt to make it go down the way it was supposed to go down. Nobody did what they were supposed to do except Melissa, who is a very reliable actress. Teresa can’t act to save her life.
One more example: At the RHOBH reunion, there was no real drama to be had since there was a “lay off Taylor” mandate issued. So, everybody except Lisa was told to pick on Lisa. Brandy was kept out of the loop and waited in another room for three hours and was not privy to the set up. Everything you see is contrived.
Talking about the show will get you fired. Bravo actually bullies its own employees who don’t want to play dirty. People have quit because of bullying, but they don’t file complaints because, with their skill sets, they get picked right up for another reality show.
I just wanted you to know that you [FameWhorgas] are so on the right track with this Cat [Rodriguez] person. They hate Teresa because they think she is stupid, and Joe won’t play along; in fact, he acts more inappropriately just to piss them off. He couldn’t care less how he comes across. Jacqueline is a mess because she cares. She was told to set up Teresa, and it made her feel bad.
I know this is hard to read, but I am in a hurry. Sorry. Keep up the good work.
“Bravo asked Jac to do things to Teresa that would have put Teresa in a bad light but Jac wouldn’t do it!” – Bonnie Grippe (Jacqueline’s mother), May 16, 2012, Twitter
Jacqueline Laurita’s response to her mother’s tweet on May 16, 2012 (above):
“Bravo DOES NOT ASK TO BRING DRAMA!! They ask for the TRUTH 2b told. NO faking ur life 4 cameras. GET IT NOW? My Mom was confused… THE TRUTH=DRAMA!! GET IT NOW? MOST people wouldn’t want their truth 2b told, would they? Some people are more open. @Bgrippe STAY OFF TWITTER”
Bonnie Grippe’s response back to Jacqueline’s tweet on May 17, 2012 (above); shortly after this tweet she protected her Twitter account:
“These loons tatally twisted what I said. Trying to make the point that you were a good friend to t and even refused to film a scene if it wld make her look bad. They twisted it of course! Love you xxoo”
Producers get cast members to turn on each other based on off-camera misinformation, manipulation, and a false economy where trash talk is a participant’s only way… In the private one-on-one interviews with a producer, it is the producer’s job to get the sh*t talking started, like “tell me honestly what you think of Sally” – if the interviewee does not respond in a catty way then the producer will usually go to the next level, like “well I personally think she is a self absorbed, attention starved skank,” and then see if the person will take the bait… it is easy to start seeding conversations and gossip… Producers craft dialogue they can feed to cast in a pinch or pop into scenes after the series has stopped filming. They coach cast to deliver monologues on specific topics… And if there aren’t enough sparks, editors “take something black and make it white.” Bait-and-switch is par for the course. “Footage has to be manipulated cleverly and often, so it’s really in my job description to know where all the bodies are buried” … “We shoot 100% of the time and air 1% of what we shot,” then edit “the really good stuff” to suit their purposes. “We have even gone as far as to ‘frankenbite,’ where you take somebody saying, ‘of course I’d like to say that I love him’ and cutting the bite together to say ‘of course I love him’… [It’s] misleading to the viewer and unfair to the cast member, but they sign up for this.”
“Melissa’s entire family hates Teresa. I went to high school with her cousin Tara Marco and she is always posting negative things about Teresa. How could they ever sincerely make up when the people closest to Melissa are constantly bashing her? I hear things here and there, but since Melissa has been on the show, the Marcos has really gone out of their way to protect her and her secrets. Apparently, they really do believe she can sing and she is the pride and joy of the family, which I am sure has fed her narcissism. It’s also 100% true that Melissa stopped associating with all of her friends since she got on the show because she is afraid of what they know. My friend [name edited out] was close to Melissa, and she told me she has reached out to Melissa many times and to congratulate her on the show, but she ignores all of her old friends now. To my knowledge, Bravo has not contacted anyone that I know personally. If Bravo wants to find them, I don’t think it would be all that difficult. I would imagine that they must know! I have a feeling that more and more people will be coming forward, especially when season 5 airs!”
“I can confirm that the producers think they (the Giudices) are weird. I don’t know what that means, lol, but when I talked to my roommate (who works on WWHL) he just said ‘Teresa and Joe are just… WEIRD.’ and when I asked him to elaborate or why they thought that, he said, ‘I don’t really know, there’s just something off about them. They are strange people’.” – JerseyGirl, September 19, 2012
“Well… okay, I don’t have a good full account to give you really, because my roommate is actually pretty tight-lipped about it, as it refers to his job. Andy is supposed to act neutral about all the housewives and is not supposed to play favorites, but it’s just known among the staff that he dislikes Teresa, particularly because of the homophobic stuff her husband has said, and also because he thinks she’s emotionally unstable. I don’t really know specifics. I think he likes the Manzos; when I suggested maybe they could leave the show, my roommate said, ‘OMG! no! They have SO many fans, their fanbase is way too huge, and it would sink the show if they left’.
“I can try to ask more. I don’t think Andy sits around bitching/gossiping about the housewives… he has to act professional and is not supposed to play favorites, even though he clearly does. I asked a bit about Melissa going behind Teresa’s back to get on the show and he took the same adamant line that Melissa takes, which was, ‘Teresa knew! She knew they were going on the show! She didn’t go behind her back!’ But I think what Teresa means (this is just my own opinion) is that Melissa had been angling to get on the show for a while, and went behind her back in that aspect, and was not open about her blatant attempts to get on the show… especially when Melissa had to know how damaging it would be to their relationship if she went on the show.
“In relation to Cat Rodriguez sending a tweet to Teresa: “She would of been asked to make it public by the producers. They are aware of the what is being said on Twitter and blogs. Cat hates Teresa and Teresa knows it. I don’t know for a fact, but I can bet Cat was told to appear mutual to squash the rumors and Teresa would of had to go along with it.”
Q: “Wait, so the producers invited him [Angelo, to the Posche Fashion Show] because they needed…”
A: “A big drama to lead into the reunion, a hook.”
Q: “So who connected Angelo with the producers of the show?”
A: “That was organised by people who are not part of the cast. You have to remember, there are so many more players in these shows than you see on screen.”