Welcome back RHBH-ers!
Before I answer questions from last week, I want to talk a little about this week's episode.
Almost a year ago, when I first was hired onto RHBH, my first goal was to tell stories that capture the full scope of life. As I've stated before, reality shows thrive on conflict, and certainly the episode about Camille's dinner party will go down as a classic. But I also knew we couldn't do episodes like that every week. To me, it just becomes unrealistic. People don't fight all the time. In real life, people have good times, bad times, emotional times, and hopeful times. My goal was to tell all of those stories.
This week's episode, 112, is a favorite of mine. And yes, I know, I say that each week, but it's honestly how I judge to see if I'm doing a good job. If I haven't fallen in love a little bit with an episode, there's definitely a problem.
I like 112 because it's different. There's no fighting. No grudges. But there's a whole lot of emotion. It was also an episode a long time coming. At the beginning of any season of a docu-drama style reality show (as opposed to a competition show like Survivor), I sit down with the cast and talk to them about what events are coming up in their lives. Among the many things Kyle told me was about her eldest daughter graduating from college toward the end of our shooting schedule. I immediately put it on our "story board," which is a bulletin board of events that we will probably want to shoot.
But as I said, it was months away, so I kind of put it on the back burner. That is, until Kyle's very first interview. During the regular season, my producers conduct the interviews, but I show up on set to shadow them to make sure everything goes well. The first few questions are always relatively simple, allowing the cast to ease into the process. My Senior Producer Brenda Coston was conducting the interview and literally on the third or fourth question, asked Kyle to tell her about Farrah. Kyle barely got three words out when she burst into tears. It took her a few minutes before she could explain that all the emotion was about Farrah's college graduation. Not only was she Kyle's oldest child, she was going to be the first person in the Richards-Hilton family to graduate and that meant a huge deal to Kyle.
Ah, this wasn't just going to be an ordinary graduation story. But as I said, it was still three months away.
Reality shows, and the people who make them, get little respect. We're often seen as bottom-feeders who look for, and exploit, the very worst of people. I'm certainly not going to deny there isn't an aspect of that to my job. But there's a lot more, or at least there is on shows I produce. That's why this episode is so special to me. As a team, and a crew, you become extended family to your cast members. At Farrah's graduation luncheon, I was sitting on a stool, around the corner out of camera range, watching the action with a monitor and listening with an earphone. I'm not embarrassed to admit I got choked up several times.
And speaking of emotion, Camille's story in this episode gets to me every time I watch as she finally reveals Kelsey wants to end their marriage. The scene with her daughter at the dance class?! Where the instructor is saying all these unwittingly ironic things like "smile through the pain" and "this is something you can do with your dad." Ouch. Beyond ouch. I know everyone is very opinionated about Camille, but I hope they cut her some slack in this episode. I can't imagine how awful it must have been to know your marriage is falling apart while video cameras are a few feet away and millions of people are going to watch. Anyhow, I hope you like the episode.
As always, let me know what you think! Now, on to answering your questions.
Question: Many people noticed Camille's one-sleeved dress kept jumping from right side to left side at Kyle’s White Party and it caused quite a stir. Viewer beLove said, "Who cares about the dress?!" But I think it deserves an answer. beLove, I agree that the dress isn't the biggest issue in the world, but I understand all the viewers who were bothered because they assumed it meant we "staged" scenes several times and Camille had worn the dress two different ways. Rest assured, the answer is much simpler.
As viewer KeyLimeSparkle noted the camera does indeed shoot a mirror image, which means in post-production, we have the ability to play the image straightforward, or reverse it, if necessary. But as Camille would say, there's nothing "nefarious" about flopping angles. Sometimes, we do it to make eye-lines match up. Sometimes we do it because it's easier to crop out a crew person in the background. Sometimes, it's just a necessity. There were over 100 guests at the White Party and about 25 crew. Even though our crew wore white, someone holding a camera still stands out in the background. So hopefully that ends Camille dress-gate?
Q: Sheri Wine liked our crew photo and wants to know if I'm in it.
A: Yup. If you go to last week's blog, I am in the back row, seventh from the left. But I'll spare you the work and include a different picture of me. Here I am with Lisa Vanderpump in New York, the day of Kelsey's premiere of La Cage Aux Folles.
Q: Sheri Wine also wanted to know if Lisa is attending the Royal Wedding and if we’re going to film it.
A: I don't know if Lisa will be getting an invitation to Prince William's wedding, however, according to the Internet, the wedding is scheduled to take place on April 29, 2011, which should be smack dab in the middle of our second season filming, IF we get picked up (which I'm pretty sure we will). Fun fact: That wouldn't be the first time we considered shooting with the Royal Family. Believe it or not, Taylor and Russell are part of the same charity as Prince Charles. Every time I go to Taylor's house, I sneak a peak at the Christmas card she got from Charles and Camilla!
Q: Tanika Brown McKelvy wants to know if the red dress Camille wears to the Tony's, which she picked out in episode 107, is the same dress that Adrienne is wearing in her Vegas shoot from 102.
A: Great question, Tanika. Though I'm a gay man, I did not inherit the gay fashion gene, so fashion things often go right by me. No one had mentioned this to me all season long, but upon closer inspection, they certainly look the same. Good eye!
Q: Pasha wants to know why people are feeling sorry for Taylor about her marriage when she stated in the very beginning her marriage was "80 percent business, 20 percent romance."
A: Pasha, everyone has a different opinion, and I've seen this debated online, so I can only offer my take. Just because people sign up for one thing, doesn't mean they don't change their mind along the way. I think witnessing the utter joy that Kyle and Mauricio or Lisa and Ken have in their marriages was eye-opening for Taylor. And for me, personally, the sight of Taylor standing by herself at the end of the driveway with her big piece of cake, sad and alone, while the best party of the year raged 50 feet away–was incredibly touching.
Q: We got lots of love for our composers Alan Lazar and Mike Biardi, and viewer Phoenix19 wants to know where he can buy the music?
A: Love hearing that, Phoenix19. I'm a soundtrack lover myself and am actually listening to our scores as I write this blog! I find it very relaxing. To answer your question, there are no plans to release a collection of our music, but I'll certainly put a bug in the ear to the Bravo higher-ups. I know they love to sell Bravo swag!
Q: JennJ thought Camille was sweet in episode 111 and Kyle kept bringing up the NYC fight, and wondered why people still favor Kyle over Camille?
A: Good question, JennJ. I can only speculate. One reason might be that Kyle is seen quite frequently being a hands-on mom and that makes her more relatable. Whereas Camille has the four nannies–though in defense of Camille, that's not the reason you don't see her interacting more with her kids. She and Kelsey made a joint decision to not film with the kids too much. Can't fault her for that. Adrienne made the same choice. I do think that when people see these last two episodes of our regular season, their feelings toward Camille will soften.
Q: Canadian Viewer wants to know if I was bothered by Camille's comments about the producers on her appearance on Ellen where she said she didn't like the editing. Canadian also hopes I won’t tow the party line and say, "I love all the women."
A: Sorry to disappoint you, Canadian, but I do truly love all the women. But let me explain, so you don’t think I’m just feeding you a line of B.S. I’ve been producing reality TV for almost 20 years, and I’ve dealt with a lot of high-maintenance and difficult people over the years. But in the end, I always find a way to love them. For me, it’s a job necessity. Meaning, that if I just flat out hated a cast member, I’d lose my objectivity and I would try to purposely make someone look bad. If I have any signature style in my work, it’s to create three-dimensional characters, because that’s the way real people exist. So as for Camille’s comments in the press, no, I’m not hurt. I’ve been down this road many times. It’s hard for most people to open up for their lives to cameras. And in the days of Twitter, etc., anyone can be an instant critic. It’s also true that we shoot more than we air. Our team tries to use all the material that tells the best stories, but I understand how that someone who had a moment they thought was great, that wound up on the cutting room floor might think the editing process was unfair. But I can assure you, the only agenda we have is to make the best, most truthful and most entertaining show we can.
Q: Duffy1958 thinks there should be a camera crew that follows the RHBH crew and wants to know if I’d be game.
A: Well, let's see. Perhaps if I went on a diet and practiced not swearing so much. But seriously, again, I tip my hat to those people willing to go in front of the camera. It exposes not only physical flaws, but all flaws. We work long hours and it's often high stress with tight deadlines. I'm sure I've said things that would make me cringe if I saw them back on camera. But maybe if it meant a big bump in salary…hmmmm. Let me get back to you on that.
Q: Bruvespu loves our glamorous main titles and wonders why they are so different than the other Housewife franchises?
A: Short answer: Necessity is the mother of invention. By the time the main title shoot day came around, Kelsey was out of the picture, and several of the kids were not available for a variety of reasons. So rather than do it halfway, with half the family members, we decided to "glam" it up Beverly Hills style. I think the results are awesome. Glad you liked them! Q: BH Fan asked about Camille's comments that the "producers" encouraged fighting, choreographed fights and often did re-takes, not to mention that she and Kyle got along off-set. Is all that true?
A: As the producer who was on the set the most, here's the truth, we always encouraged the ladies to be honest. If they had a beef with someone, we wanted them to talk about it on-camera. That's very different than encouraging fights out of thin air, which we never did. Going in to NYC, we knew Camille and Kyle had issues with each other, so we encouraged them to discuss it.
As for choreographing fights? No. True, before a scene would be shot, we often warn the cast about avoiding standing in front of windows, etc., but when a fight breaks out, we never stop to stage things. Our camera team and producing team adapt to the action as it breaks out. As for re-takes? During interviews, we'll often ask cast members to repeat their answers if they stumble while speaking them. But that's so the audience gets a clear answer. And if we are doing something innocuous, like an entrance to a house, and it doesn't work, for whatever reason, yes, we will do it again. But anything big, like the dinner party from Hell at Camille's? No, not at all. No re-takes that night.
Finally, as for the frenemy relationship of Kyle and Camille: Trust me, it puzzles no one more than me. They can be chummy one minute and at each other's throats, the next. And it's not because the producers are prodding them to. They just have one of those mercurial relationships.
Q: Finally, JillianJ wants to know how we could've shot a reunion with the ladies if all the episodes hadn’t aired yet?
A: The reunion is not a live show, like Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live. For the reunion, we try and ask as many fan questions as we can, which means we shoot a lot more than what winds up in the final shows, which means we need time to edit it. But you are right, Jillian, that we want the women to have seen all the episodes so they can comment, so we gave the women rough cuts of the final three episodes so they could be prepared for the reunion.
That's it for this week. I really enjoy answering all the questions. Keep them coming!