Reality TV

#RealityTV: Remember, You’re Tweeting About A TV SHOW, Fans!

Robin Thicke is not the only one to identify where there are “blurred lines”…

When blind items hit the Internet, readers scramble to figure out all possible allusions. Paragraphs that are so murky can be hard to solve…unless a reader is entirely familiar with the situations – and in terms of what I frequently cover, the reality show. Lately, there have been a slew of blind items clearly pertaining to popular reality shows.

It is one thing to see oblique references on the Internet, but what about when targeted information about an individual is blasted out on social media platforms? In recent times, we’ve seen it is an effective strategy for shaming those who are in the wrong, and getting that “news” out to the masses. In this post Harvey Weinstein scandal world, the Internet has been an asset to enforcing the message that a certain type of conduct is intolerable. But what about when the Internet is used by the Harvey Weinsteins to smear victims?

Perpetrators of bad behavior are notorious for ensuring that they have a platform to spin stories negatively – in order to feed the press info that shifts focus away from their own atrocities.“The Internet is a void that everyone is screaming into,” my own father reasons, “Who in the world is listening?”

It’s clear he doesn’t believe that many people are really taking inane reports they read as truths. The problem is that people very easily believe what they read in a blog established to malign someone without merit.

We laugh at individuals who fall for National Enquirer headlines while on line at the grocery store, but we also easily witness how a false story takes off with alarming speed. And my father did not grow up with the Internet, nor does he rely on it for his work, unlike another man his age who sits in the oval office and has taken to Twitter in erratic fashion.

Covering reality television, I recently saw how viewers – more accurately, fans – escalate from discussing who their favorite characters are and trading barbs about what’s seen on TV…to hurling outlandish and abusive personalized attacks at one another.

“I said that I found Kenya Moore of Real Housewives of Atlanta to be frightening,” my friend David relates, “and suddenly I see tweets about me, including a poll, weighing in on how racist I am. I reiterate: The poll was about ME. Racist?! Because I happen to find a reality character frightening due to her intense behavior on a reality show?! How in the world did people make the stretch to ‘racist.’? I was trolled for months by these same multiple accounts. When I reported it to Twitter, an email came back saying that Twitter didn’t find the tweets abusive. I felt completely let down by the social media platform.”

A woman who chose to identify herself for this piece as “Carly” explained her similar vexations with Twitter: “I’m being taunted mercilessly by the same series of accounts because I dared to comment on a Real Housewives franchise. What ensued were below the belt tweets that included personal information about me. These sick individuals had apparently visited my other social media pages to check details. As a single mom with a very young child, I was terrified and immediately set all my accounts to ‘private’. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I contacted a lawyer and asked family members to stay at my house with my child and I for a few days. It’s insane that conversations via social media can lead to this much panic. I am still considering closing my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for good.”Family members have also advised me in the past to “get off social media” when I privately shared anecdotes of that nether world (I now mainly avoid doing so). I think that due to the type of work I’ve conducted over the years, predominantly in the area of marketing, I have to be on these platforms generally for outreach.

In a non-professional capacity, I love to promote the good work of my friends. Facebook and Twitter are ideal for sharing a podcast link or one to an article. It does frighten me to see how fans blur the lines between reality and reality TV on Twitter though. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life. It’s also quite the phenomenon that Real Housewives franchises specifically are the ones to garner this much negative attention and breed such a level of hostility between fans who simply want to opine on a silly TV show.

Why do you think the Real Housewives inspire such a reaction in the Twitterverse?

Would you steer clear of social media if you were personally attacked?

If not, what measures would you take to protect yourself?

I would love to hear from you readers and get your individual takes. For now, try to remember that television viewing is typically described as “leisure time.” It is an experience you are supposed to enjoy and do while you’re relaxing. Perhaps it is best to limit yourself to one screen and ensure that you screen out the rest!

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Bethenny’s “Her or Me” Ultimatum

After hearing celebrity gossip columnist Rob Shuter speak to Kate Casey on her eponymous podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey (which I will be recapping shortly for AllAboutTRH.com), I caught up with the well-informed New Yorker to ask the question bugging me and so many fans of Real Housewives of New York.

“Was Carole Radziwill fired?”

After covering Bravo shows extensively for The Huffington Post contributor platform and interviewing many of the network’s talent over the years, one thing I’ve learned is that stars don’t simply quit while the season is airing. That is, unless something goes terribly wrong for them. In addition, Bravo does prefer to urge their talent to hand in a letter of resignation. This helps to avoid the semantics of “she was fired” and we’ve seen it in the past with Housewives of other franchises.

The network may or may not have gone this same “letter of resignation” route with Carole Radziwill, but it all boils down to the following:

“Carole was fired,” Shuter confirms. “Bethenny is great TV, but bad on a personal level.”

In his earlier interview with Casey, Shuter discussed Bethenny’s inability to maintain relationships, and we’ve seen on RHONY how her friendships have either experienced extreme turbulence and weathered those fraught conditions, or failed to thrive due to interpersonal chaos.

While Bethenny certainly isn’t “easy,” she is hilarious, clever and her one-liners have become truly exquisite RHONY gems. She knows how to drive a storyline despite exhausting viewers when an emotional roller coaster becomes terribly convoluted.

According to Shuter, Bethenny is most valuable to RHONY of all the cast mates. In the opinion of shrewd observers, after Carole went rogue in some of her interviews and refused to hold back in her Bravo blog entries (several of which Bravo reportedly asked her to go back and edit in order to tone down the verbiage), Carole put herself in a precarious position. In light of this, it makes sense when Rob confirms to me that Bethenny was successfully able to give producers the “It’s her or me” ultimatum.

Bethenny is seen by production, the network and fans alike as the powerhouse necessary for this franchise. However, there is also a contingent that views her as the difficult “mean girl” who has successfully chased other RHONY cast members away. It is an argument that can be made if you comb through the archives and consider cast members of past seasons who shared screen time with the Skinny Girl.

What do YOU think of Carole allegedly being fired from Real Housewives of New York?

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Will Jill Zarin Replace Carole Radziwill?

Pop culture commentator and gossip columnist Rob Shuter has a lot of RHONY inside scoop.

It was he who tweeted that Carole was completely wiped from Bethenny at the reunion and would therefore be retiring the “Housewife” moniker. That declaration came before the official People magazine announcement courtesy of reporter Dave Quinn.

Today, Rob tweeted out that Jill Zarin will likely be replacing Carole and is currently in the midst of talks with Bravo. Could Rob be right? Or is Shed Media looking for a fresh face for the franchise – someone we’ve never heard of – instead?

I liked Jill during her past seasons and even interviewed her for Huffington Post on the heels of the televised Teri Jon fashion event advocating for anti-bullying awareness. On a personal level, I found her to be congenial and open as an interviewee. However, I’ll admit that I will miss the political savvy of Carole Radziwill and I can’t help feeling a little bothered that we are losing a liberal who I admired (remember how she attended the Women’s March with Dorinda?) for someone who was a noted board member of the Eric Trump organization. We know where Jill’s allegiances were during the last election, and although politics barely factors into the RHONY franchise, I’m craving more of a Heather Thompson type of gal for the upcoming season. I’d love to see someone brand new.

My reasoning is slightly selfish, I admit. I related to Carole’s political leanings and her campaigning efforts. Losing an active and outspoken liberal (Carole is “vocal” in this arena via social media) feels like the opening of a void, albeit one quite tangential to the show’s storylines.

Regardless, Jill Zarin has history with her RHONY cronies, as well as an on and very off again friendship with Bethenny Frankel. So viewers will be interested to see how the two repair any residual rifts, overcome a complicated past and whether the peace between the two of them will last.

What are your thoughts on the potential return of Jill Zarin to Real Housewives of New York? Do you think it’s unlikely or a very real possibility?

(Photo source: Us Weekly)

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Cults, True Crime

#NXIVM: Arrest of 4 Women, Including 1 “Broke” Girl?!

Four women who had miraculously avoided arrest until yesterday, were finally handcuffed, and the gravity of their crimes were officially cemented in the headlines following widespread talk and speculation.

The Frank Report and major news outlets reported that Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, 39, the daughter of late billionaire philanthropist Edgar Bronfman, was arrested, along with NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman, 64, her daughter, Lauren Salzman, 42, and the group’s 60-year-old bookkeeper, Kathy Russell. This occurred yesterday on Tuesday, July 24th.

BBC.com reports:

Court documents allege Ms Bronfman, a member of Nxivm’s executive board, was involved in the identity theft of at least two women – including a deceased sexual partner of Mr Raniere. She is also accused of encouraging and assisting in an alleged Nxivm victim’s illegal entry into the US.In a note published on her website last December, Ms Bronfman said she still supported Nxivm after seeing “so much good come from both our programmes and from Keith himself”. Her lawyer Susan Necheles said in a statement that Nxivm was “not a criminal enterprise” but “an organization that helped thousands of people,” according to US media. “The charges against Clare are the result of government overreaching and charging an individual with crimes just because the government disagrees with some beliefs taught by Nxivm and held by Clare,” Ms Necheles said.

As for the other 3 women who were arrested? They, along with Keith Raniere and Allison Mack

are accused of racketeering conspiracy, or attempting to illegally obtain or extort money, and could face up to 20 years in jail, plus an additional maximum 15 years for identity theft conspiracy. The US Department of Justice says the group committed “an array of crimes, including identity theft, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice”. FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said on Tuesday that “the details of these alleged crimes become more and more grim as we continue to dig deeper into the conduct of this organization and its intended mission”.

If you examine pictures of Clare Bronfman from yesterday, you’ll notice that she looks even thinner (note the arms) than she had a couple of years ago. This emaciation is less than modelesque-chic and appears to age her beyond her 39 years. This is not only due to stress, no doubt, but mainly attributable to the starvation diet notoriously associated with NXIVM – and in particular, in keeping with the rules of its DOS (sexual slavery) division.

Clare is also reportedly “broke” for a billionaire heiress after pouring her funds into NXIVM. She was also allegedly assisting with NXIVM founder/”Vanguard” Keith Raniere’s legal defense team. She has a sister, Sara Bronfman, 42, who was in NXIVM and who she may be seriously counting on for financial help (according to Frank Parlato of The Frank Report).

I am wondering if the sister is at risk of being arrested as well. From my understanding, her involvement in the cult had minimized over the years as compared to her more active sibling who took the reigns from Raniere following his arrest. Clare was also extremely active in the terrorism by litigation of NXIVM defectors, former members who had seen the light about the group and its founder and were subjected to endless bogus lawsuits.

This story is still developing….

(Pictured: Clare Bronfman, BBC.com)

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Celebrities, public figures

This Week in Celebrity Train-Wrecks: Pete Hits “Delete”

I’ll admit I haven’t thought much about Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande, but my Millennial friends seemed to be obsessed with this odd couple. He’s the quirky SNL comedian who, notably, lost his dad on 9/11, and she’s the high-pony adorned pop star who shows us one side of her face.

She was also thrust into the global spotlight when her concert was attacked by a suicide bomber in Manchester, resulting in 23 fatalities. Both have been exposed to the light and the dark, the comedy, music and absolute horrifying tragedy. Perhaps that makes their pairing more suitable than the untrained eye might assess.

Comedians aren’t strangers to attacks on the tastefulness of their brand of humor, and Davidson hasn’t escaped public ire for his own questionable comments and jokes. He’s never really been my “cup of tea”, but perhaps I would change my mind if I saw a solo performance in a club.

When it comes to Ariana, I think of her licking donuts without planning to buy them and proceeding to call America fat. That flashback is redeemed by the recall of her returning to Manchester much later on, post tragedy, to show her support for the people and raise money for the victims.

Otherwise, I cannot name a single song of hers, but I was born in 1974 and I still think Queen and Erasure are two of the best popular music groups to exist – I may not be the best judge.

Pete and Ariana’s engagement had been a thing that had fans speculating and gossiping daily. It all seemed like a whirlwind and folks were placing bets on how long this duo would last. Then “news” broke earlier today that Pete had hit delete on his Instagram. “No more Ariana posts?!” one onlooker exclaimed in a Facebook group devoted to celeb gossip.

Pete’s Instagram activity coincided with a tweet from Ariana:

Fans, particularly those avidly tuned in to celebrity shit-shows, are speculating that the couple is kaput and are on their edges of their seats waiting to see what happens next.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Dating, Psychology, Reality TV

#RHONY: Is There a Shortage of Men in Manhattan?!

Two decades ago, when I was a single woman living and dating in NYC, it seemed like every guy of “average” level looks, intelligence and personality had 9 incredible women in hot pursuit of him.

I was in a certain, very niche- specific dating scene because of my religious background, and once I expanded my social circles, this 9 to 1 ratio of eligible single ladies to eligible single men no longer seemed to be as much of a thing. However, I did notice that “normal” men seemed harder to find than outstanding women, and while the male population of NYC is currently at 47.38 percent versus the 52.62 percent of females (a disparity that doesn’t seem outrageous and was quite similar twenty years ago), a good man is hard to find.

It takes only a five minute conversation with a NYC single gal today to gauge this problem, while a man always seems to have more dating prospects on the horizon.

I suspect this was particularly prescient to me due to my former religious circles wherein matchmakers pounce upon a widowed man because of the devotion he had to his wife and noted past ability to commit. I realize this sounds awfully vulture-like to the reader, but it’s so hard for a religious Jewish woman to find a man who is self-assured, charismatic and committed. Matchmakers are fully aware of this. There just happen to be more marriage-minded women than men in major metropolitan cities.

This brings us to the ladies of Real Housewives of New York. They’re not in the Jewish dating scene, but are in a niche specific one of their own. It is one where men of a certain middle aged and above cohort are acclimating still to the idea of a highly successful, independent and self-sufficient, affluent woman (though some of these ladies are more modern and self sufficient than others are). The majority of these men have been indoctrinated with the notion of man as provider and, despite protest, many do feel threatened by a women of means who could be the provider herself. RHONY fans often ask “why are these woman always dating the same loser, or arguing over the same man who doesn’t seem so spectacular?”

I mention my “9 to 1” theory to Rori Sassoon, Founder of NYC matchmaking service Platinum Poire. Rori hosted the speed dating event that we recently saw on RHONY. It was where all the ladies seemed interested in the red scarf adorned Brian Krauss. “Aren’t there more men for these women to date?” viewers asked.

Rori agrees that the rationale I developed from my dating days is not off at all and adds: “It is unfortunately still the same. It’s also much harder for women because the man is the one who is doing the pursuing. I also find that if a man wants to be in a relationship, he can make that happen a lot more quickly than a woman can. Because of that, a lot of women do not choose their partner, they are chosen, which can lead to a relationship with an expiration date.”

If all of this sounds terribly antiquated in today’s 2018 culture of #MeToo, #TimesUp, Feminism and shifts from heteronormative stereotypes, we have not progressed as much as you naively thought. A certain level of traditional thinking still abounds amidst the modernity of NYC, especially when it comes to the Gen X and Boomer contingents.

For every Tom, Harry and Brian, there is a group of women hovering in the wings, trying to catch a glimpse of an extinct breed: a seemingly Ok male specimen. Due to the depressing rarity of this find, the bar is not set especially high, and disappointment in NYC dating can seem as inevitable as a streetlight on every corner.

Thinking outside of the box and beyond the city limits is a strategy some of these Housewives have employed because the pickings are slim. It is why so much is not taboo and hiring a matchmaker is not something to be shunned. It’s also why you shouldn’t be ashamed if it suddenly dawns on you that your uncle in Schenectady would be the perfect match for Ramona Singer. Hey, you never know. Vet it through Rori. Crazier things have happened in this world than Ramona becoming your aunt.

Hear Rori Sassoon discuss the RHONY speed dating event and trying to match up the ladies of the cast on the Pink Shade with Erin Martin podcast.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: “The Guy with The Red Scarf” Sets the Record Straight

The Curious George series has the “man with the yellow hat” and recently, Real Housewives of New York introduced “the guy with the red scarf.” There was the French pirate before him, followed by zany Rey at the Madam Paulette event, and of course, that man that “it’s all about”, Tom D’Agastino.

This new neck-cessorized suitor of the season will surely also be the subject of future flashback scenes. He has already been the impetus for a car ride recap by Bethenny and a contentious dinner conversation between the ladies. Viewers observed how Ramona Singer was the first to single him out at a speed dating event, after which he focused his attention on Bethenny and declared he had been hoping to see her there.

However, it was Carole Radziwill who ultimately scored a post-event blind date with him, set up by the speed dating event’s matchmaker Rori Sassoon. Afterwards, while in Colombia with her cast mates, Bethenny claimed -and complained – that he was hitting her up repetitively by text.

In case you were in the dark about his identity, the red scarf belongs to Brian Krauss, a 53 year old resident of Saddle River, NJ, who tells me he had never watched RHONY until this year and was unfamiliar with all the players except Bethenny. The two had met away from the show and glitz of NYC, in Miami.

Brian Krauss’s Instagram

Brian marvels about how “the guy with the red scarf” became a character (he didn’t don the accessory to stand out, rather for practical reasons: It was freezing that winter night.) and his adamancy about not expecting to be a storyline strikes me as sincere. After all, this lawyer and entrepreneur (he founded and sold the companies IPATH Footwear and Vintage1 and is now focused on his law firms) had never watched the show until he was informed he’d be on the speed dating episode. Now, he has to tune in weekly to keep up with the narrative.

As we’re chatting by phone, Brian sends me an email comprised of what he’s written in order to set the record straight on his relationship to Bethenny:

A Tale of Two Texts

Bethenny has an odd habit of making up stories where she looks good at the expense of others. This tale is no exception. I bet those texts she was reading gave you the impression they were all from me after we re-connected at speed dating. False. They weren’t. They were cobbled together from months earlier when she first swiped right on The League, a dating app, to match with me.

She conveniently left out all her replies. There were so many. Trust me, it is unnerving to film RHONY. I agreed because I believe in my friend Rori’s matchmaking business Platinum Poire. And yes, I was happy to see Bethenny, a woman I already knew, felt comfortable with and considered a friend.

Her claim that she texted me that same night to fix me up with Carole: also false. In real life Rori arranged a dinner the next evening. Also, in real life Bethenny texted me immediately after she left speed dating to say what a great time she had had. Then she woke up at 6:01 the next morning (Feb. 1st) to set up a date for herself.

When I saw the show, I laughed at the way Bethenny turned what I thought was a flirty, fun speed dating night into a full on pursuit.

Here are screenshots of the actual texts between us. It’s kind of brilliant how this became “he won’t stop texting me.” You decide. I’m blue. Bethenny is grey. By the way, I’m out of the reality show business. It’s insane!

Then four days later:

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Brian explains that when he first met Bethenny in Miami, he felt a connection to her because they both had been through difficult divorces. He is not a stranger to reality television as he had once been a part of a project with the intent of promoting a business. That reality show never aired, in large part due to his divorce and refusal to be inauthentic about his marital struggles, as well as tensions with his brothers-in-law business partners.

A client of Rori’s matchmaking business referred Brian for the speed dating event. After speaking with her at length by phone, Brian says he really liked the matchmaker and her business concept and wanted to help her promote the company. He relates that he almost backed out of filming after having second thoughts. Now, Brian is a part of the RHONY saga. He is a character that true fans of the franchise won’t forget. He is gobsmacked by the amount of friend requests he’s received on Facebook since appearing on the show and by the number of followers he has recently acquired on Instagram. He laments that it’s been hard to keep up.

“At the reunion, I think Carole will probably set the record straight about how things actually went down,” he speculates. This aligns with the rumors about the upcoming reunion. Bethenny fans will not be happy at the insinuations that she has been less than truthful. They will have to come to their own conclusions when Carole presents the “receipts.”

Brian says he remains in touch with Carole and I try to gauge if there’s romantic interest there, but I’m mainly unsuccessful. He says that he finds her fascinating, brilliant and accomplished and is still getting to know her.

As for Bethenny? “Oh no, I’m not in touch and I won’t text her. I would NOT want that to get misconstrued!”

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