We sat down with one of Bravo's producers on The Real Housewives of Atlanta to get all the behind-the-scenes scoop about the Season 9 reunion and answer some of your burning questions!
Bravotv.com: How do you prepare to shoot the reunion?
Bravo Producer: Weeks in advance, we start to collect questions from viewers that Andy will ask. We also start to comb through Twitter and Facebook comments to see what viewers were most interested in to get an idea of topics we should follow-up on.
We start to create the packages that the women will watch on stage which are used to summarize big plot points or moments from the season. We also use these packages as a way to help guide the conversation. This helps us figure out a schedule for the day. Typically, we start out with about 16 packages and start to eliminate or combine them as we build out the day.
Months before the reunion, we work with an amazing set designer, who will brainstorm and pitch themes for the set. This year we wanted to stay in-line with the chateaus and manors, so we came up with the concept of “Castle Cohen.” From that idea, the designer sends us renderings and mood boards for the set. Once we decide on a look, his team spends weeks finding furniture, pillows, rugs, and other décor for the room. His team also builds out the entire set turning an empty ballroom into an actual castle.
The night before the reunion, we meet with Andy and go over the script which is about 50 pages of questions - single spaced.
Bravotv.com: How do you pick the reunion fashion “theme” every year?
Bravo Producer: We don’t usually have a theme for fashion, we tell the ladies to pick dresses in a color scheme that will work well against the set design. Since this year’s set was going to be a castle, we asked that the ladies wear jewel tones to pop against the richness of the reds and golds of the set.
Bravotv.com: What’s the biggest challenge of filming the reunion?
Bravo Producer: Keeping the day moving so that we can get through all the packages and topics. Typically the reunion tapes for 10-12 hours, so it can be quite exhausting and long. We try to start as early as possible, but there are always those moments where someone has a wardrobe malfunction and glam has to come out, then everyone wants glam, and the next thing you know we’re taking a 20 minute break.
Bravotv.com: Is there a formula for a good reunion?
Bravo Producer: The best reunions are when we have cast members who are ready to lay it all out on the table and discuss the hard topics. I love those moments when someone pulls out a text exchange or reveals a conversation that adds more context to something that happened in the season. The reality is these ladies are actual friends and their lives and drama continue when the cameras aren’t rolling.
Bravotv.com: How was this reunion different this season?
Bravo Producer: I don’t think any of us were prepared for level of emotion that came out. We all go into it not knowing what the women are going to say or do. We could tell from the very beginning that Kandi was visibly hurt and ready to hear from Porsha about the drugging accusations. Porsha and Kandi were real friends and had a lot to get off their chests.
Bravotv.com: Are there any behind-the-scenes secrets you can share?
Bravo Producer: When we take our lunch break, a lot of the ladies will sit out in the dining area with crew, glam, and the producers to eat. On other shows, the cast will usually go back to their dressing rooms to eat. So I love looking around and seeing Cynthia with her big hair or Kenya in a beautiful ball gown eating and laughing next to a camera operator.
Bravotv.com: What was your favorite reunion moment from past seasons?
Bravo Producer: When Mama Joyce came out on set.
Typically, we try to limit reunion guests to husbands and friends who played a significant role. However, that season Mama Joyce was such an integral part of the show that she had to be involved. She came out beaming and showing off diamonds and not relenting on her opinion of Todd and the other women. It was just a funny and interesting interview.