Bachelor Nation, Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#BachelorNation and #BravoTV Stars: Kim Biermann Said WHAT?!

I had this same reaction when Kathryn Dennis said something similar:

I’m familiar with #BachelorNation, the culture surrounding ABC’s The Bachelor franchise and many of its antiquated notions with regard to casting.

Weeks ago, Kathryn Dennis claimed to have been courted by production to be an upcoming Bachelorette (People Magazine article), and now, Kim Zolciak Biermann is saying she too was once considered for the title roll.

The Bachelorette may have finally welcomed its first black lead with Rachel Lindsay during its thirteenth season to help reject rumors related to racism, but CLASSISM still marks the franchise. I don’t envision that changing anytime soon.

Lindsay was an accomplished attorney with a stellar reputation overall. Single mom Emily Maynard (Season 8’s Bachelorette) was a gorgeous widow who had tragically lost her young husband. However, a trash talking, cussing, chain-smoking single mom (Biermann) wouldn’t have fit the franchise’s “brand”, particularly at the time she claims to have been approached. That brand is about having a wholesome as apple pie image (or one as close to it as possible for a show that concludes with a “Fantasy Suite” catering to the final three contenders and lead).

Dennis’s turbulent, televised and highly publicized history with the scandalous Thomas Ravenel could not feasibly have garnered such an invitation by ABC. Simply put, they are just not that open minded. It boils down to viewership demographics and ratings.

I have to wonder about WHO was actually talking to these women and scamming them into believing these were valid offers.

In the interim, I am all for a Bravo show encouraging men to step up to the plate and vie for Kathryn Dennis’s affections. After all, Bravo gave her a platform and allowed fans to witness her maturations from season to season on Southern Charm.

Because of how Biermann was received on Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), as well as unresolved havoc following the show’s reunion, I cannot imagine Bravo and its viewers would be on board for something similar with her as the lead.

Tamara Tattles brings us more information here about Zolciak Biermann’s recent remarks.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY Psychology: Is the Bar Set Low for Your “Bethenny”? (Opinion)

Disclaimer: The following post may be deemed “psychobabble” as it reflects thoughts of a former psychology major, rather than psychologist or licensed mental health professional.

It is a residual learned helplessness from elementary school interactions with mean girls. When we come across someone brash, opinionated and intimidating, it’s somewhat instinctive how we set the bar lower, how we’ll lap up the love we do receive – between thorny barbs that prick us repetitively – like a little lost puppy dog.

As with an A-Plus student, someone like Bethenny Frankel has a podium to stand on so we are at a loss for words during debates. The little girls inside of us, upon recognizing approval from the harshest of critics, prize the praise of a “Bethenny” over the kind words of someone softer and more sensitive.

Because she is one who suffers fools lightly (so to speak), her moments of tenderness and vulnerability stand out more prominently than they would in an easygoing individual, and a fortress of respect surrounds her.

While I did not agree with certain actions of Carole Radziwill this season of Real Housewives of New York (RHONY), – her need to repeat atrocious things said to people behind their backs could perhaps be justified by the fact that cameras were capturing everything – I had compassion for her after witnessing her evisceration by cast mate and former buddy Bethenny Frankel.

No one on this show is without faults and the argument about “setting the bar lower” could be applied to other cast mates too. However, that would entail several other separate, lengthy articles. I’m going to stick to Bethenny in this particular one, while bearing in mind the argument about allowances made for Ramona Singer. We can save that Megillah (and ones devoted to Sonja, Luann, Dorinda…) for another time.

Think back to your days vying for the popular classmate’s attention and wishing you were in “the clique.” Remember laughing at the girl in the back brace who the cool kids were taunting? Would you put up with and participate in that sort of behavior now? I’m sure you are saying “no”, but if you think hard, you have probably made other mental adjustments for rude people.

You may know someone blunt who won’t back down and listen to you finish your points in a discussion – even when what they’re spewing is entirely wrong. It may be because they’re so often right and regarded as the “voice of reason” in other instances.

Despite some aggravation, you say to yourself, consciously or subconsciously, “She’s tough, but has chosen ME as her friend…ME!!!” So you listen and bite your tongue to keep from objecting.

This does reflect a collective self esteem and the desire we have to be appreciated by people we see as accomplished, authoritative and determined. As confident as one could argue that Manhattan socialite and bestselling author Carole Radziwill is, she is not above succumbing to another’s flattery and adoration of her.

Avid RHONY viewer and reality TV blogger Essence Capp observes: “When Carole met Bethenny at Luann’s during Season 7, she was almost ‘star struck.’ She really did seem in awe of her during the early period of their friendship.”

Bethenny called Carole the “cool girl” during that time and Carole (no doubt) loved it. I cannot blame her at all: I’ve been a a part of this type of dynamic in my own social life. Who doesn’t appreciate and value the praise of a highly discerning individual? Bethenny had already set herself apart as being that fussy, fault finding judge whose BS detector was extra fine-tuned.

My husband will say to me “Forget elementary school! That was 100 years ago!” However, it is the experience of playground and classroom interactions, including past swift assessments made by teachers and peers alike, that shaped who we are today. Whether we are willing to reflect and admit to it or not, the social and academic scrutiny in our formative years can affect us throughout young adulthood and beyond.

Knowing this allows us to ask ourselves “Why exactly do I need this person in my life? Why does their opinion of me matter so much?”

Unfortunately, as the Carole-Bethenny breakup attests, it can take a falling out for us to step back and decide what is worth fighting for…and what isn’t.

As I write this, Carole is still tweeting about the fights with her former friend. In doing so, she comes across to many as the Bitter Betty of the duo. Perhaps it’s because she feels that now that she won’t be returning to RHONY, she has nothing to lose and can totally go rogue.

It is best, when there’s no reality show in the picture, to be the better person. In the fashion of those beloved by Bravo who can look scornfully upon the Housewives and laugh at them, Carole could bow out gracefully and opt to “plead the fifth” instead.

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Uncategorized

#ShahsOfSunset & Other Shows: Realness Versus Reality Gold

Last year, preceding the premiere of Shahs of Sunset, cast member Mike Shouhed told me he thought the season would garner an Emmy nomination. I love this Bravo show, but over the course of watching past (and now, the current) seasons it’s become apparent that the cast acutely feels the need to drum up drama during duller moments. It is true that a lot of what we see is real and raw, and that MJ, Mike and Reza wish they didn’t have to show viewers certain things. But…what makes them great, ultimately, is that they know that “sharing everything” – no matter how excruciating some disclosures are – is exactly what they signed up to do.

Also, and especially this season, it seems to viewers that the cast is overly conscious of plot lines going stale. That’s precisely when they’ll throw Molotov cocktails into the mix. The “fake” components don’t bother me as much as they probably should – There is something about this dynamic Persian crew that has me captivated. I’m tuned in for all of their adventures.

Sometimes events can seem “extra”, but it works with this kooky ensemble of outlandish personalities (Reza’s husband Adam, who was the more easygoing “better half” last season, must have recently received a memo to be more reactive on camera. He’s dialed it up bizarrely this season, which strikes me as rather inorganic).

Asa Soltan is the former full-time Shahs cast mate who kept so much of her personal and romantic life private and was adamant about keeping various details off camera. This season, she’ll only have a few cameo appearances which suits Mercedes Javid (“MJ”) just fine after expressing her annoyance about Asa in an interview with me.

Even with the irksome intervention of several publicists on the phone line, MJ’s effortless candor with me was greatly appreciated. I could totally sympathize with and feel the frustrations she was having: Here she was discussing “dysfunctional” aspects of her life in detail, repeatedly hearing her mother painstakingly critique her on television. In the meantime, Asa was intent on keeping everything close to the vest (including her longtime romantic partnership with Jermaine Jackson II).

Mike’s comment about the show deserving an Emmy, Reza and MJ’s shenanigans designed to antagonize the irascible GG, the outing of Shervin as a deceptive womanizer…These are all things that could cause the VP of Bravo PR to quake in his suede loafers while pacing and pondering: “Will the press pan this show as being scripted?”

More realistically, I’d say he’s largely unbothered because Ryan Seacrest Productions works their magic annually to put this masterpiece together in way that hooks longtime viewers and reels newbies in. Scripted-seeming or not, as Mike Shouhed himself would tell you: “People freakin love it.”

Here’s the thing with reality television: While a lot of what is filmed is off the cuff, so much is also planned and devised with precision beforehand.

So should we believe MJ and Reza when they say that a shocking announcement at a party was merely a spur of the moment drunken move? Only partly.

Their tactic is most likely a PATT move: Plan, Ambush and Tag Team. There was no peace in mind when inviting Shalom’s other ex to the Valentines soirée. It’s unlikely that MJ and Reza didn’t have some strategic meeting of the minds beforehand.

It’s been rumored that some Bravolebrities have practiced “lines” in front of mirrors before we see their quote-worthy words uttered with impeccable delivery. One reality tv personality had a line that stood out to many, but the individual privately admitted that reality TV bloggers gave them the quote word for word, hoping to drive a certain narrative home.

Producers do make executive decisions such as: “You’re turning 50 and I know you’d like to have a party. That’s where you’ll ask ____ about her husband’s separate apartment that she’s never seen.” But the personalities on these shows will admit that after only a bit of initial nudging, once the ball is rolling it’s easy to push past formalities and go rogue. If you don’t operate at the requisite speed to freely let your freak flag fly without filter, then honey, you weren’t made for reality TV. (See: Peggy Sulahian, 100th Housewife — also referred to as “Peggy Shhh No Talk!” by comedian and Housewives impersonator Amy Phillips.)

While I can grapple with what’s not reality about reality television – and I watch The Bachelor franchise as true testament to that – I think there’s a limit to what’s acceptable. There’s an immense amount of scheming that goes on behind the scenes when you consider reports of romantic couples who are not actually items at all, but rather, have made a business arrangement to benefit both parties. There have been at least two couples that come to my mind at this very moment: They are seen as having contrived storylines. These couples have been dogged by rumors of business arrangements: You play my fiancé/boyfriend/girlfriend/on-off hookup. It will make things much spicier this season.

A seasoned reality personality knows that being sensational wears off fast. Because it’s ideal to stay perpetually fresh, the wheels are always turning.

Knowing that I know all of this about reality TV, it boggles my husband’s and my sons’ minds that I have a more difficult time getting into modern scripted shows. To that I say: Where is the fun in knowing it’s all fake, when I can enjoy wondering about what is, versus what isn’t, instead?

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Psychology, Reality TV, #RHOBH

#RHOBH OPINION: Is Denise Richards “Off-Brand”?

If you’re wondering why I capitalized “opinion,” it is because I’ve dealt with many a livid reality tv fan in my day. So if you are one to get more passionate about “Real Housewives” than you do about politics, please note this disclaimer before reading on: Below are simply some thoughts and my mind is subject to change as I watch the upcoming season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Now that that divulgence is out of the way, I’m about to belatedly weigh in on the announcement about actress Denise Richards joining RHOBH.

I will tune in, of course, because I become captivated by drama and even, more simply (or more “accurately” considering last season’s lack of drama), by the glamorous designer duds and luxury looks of the ladies. To skewer an old tagline of RHONY’s Sonja Morgan: I have a taste for luxury, but luxury doesn’t have a taste for me.

I joke with friends that I cannot even begin to consider between-the-brow-Botox due to how wrinkly my wallet is. (It helps to have the excuse of 4 children and four tuitions to fret about. When I didn’t have that excuse – two years ago when they were in public schools, for instance – it was a tad more humbling.) I make no bones about the fact that I’m not rich with a candor that Bethenny Frankel (RHONY) would be forced to admire. In fact, one Twitter user joked that I’m a “wannabe Housewife” (due to the fact that I’ve written about these ladies) and aside from never wanting to expose my embarrassing faults on TV…EVER (!) and deal with the after-effects of that public mortification, I’m content admitting I don’t have the requisite “aspirational” lifestyle to make the cut.

For me, these curious creatures on our TV screens make for a captivating collective anthropological case. While I have my husband rifling through my bag for car keys, stumbling upon CVS receipts and saying “we can’t afford for you to keep buying these face masks!”, the RHOBH are known for their over the top gifts. Take, for example. the five thousand dollar toilet Erika Jayne Girardi gifted her husband Tom.

I love the fact that I had never heard of most of these women before and I’m seeing how insanely affluent and excessive (AKA “extra”) they are. I love the fact that despite how I watched Kim Richards in the movie Watcher in the Woods as a kid, many of you did not. Being Paris Hilton’s aunts, Kim and Kyle Richards made good “Real Housewives” because despite doing the acting thing, they were only somewhat known, but not terribly famous and known by all. They fell somewhere between C and D list.

Considering the cast of RHONY, on the other hand, I like how Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer were people the vast majority of us had never heard of until they appeared on our screens. It makes me wonder why they weren’t famous prior to the show just for being ridiculously rich and having bonkers, over-the-top personalities.

So now we have Denise, a pick who is the most well known “actress” of all actresses to ever be selected for a Housewives franchise. I should note here that RHOBH is the only one of the Housewives franchises to have somewhat known actresses in the first place.

We had Eileen Davidson, familiar to soap opera aficionados, but not to countless others who don’t watch soaps (moi). Then many of us had to adjust a bit when we were introduced to Lisa Rinna in her Bravo role. Wait, we thought, this is weird because we know her from Melrose Place and from her flop reality show alongside A-list actor- hubby Harry Hamlin. This “adjustment” wasn’t too huge ultimately because Rinna’s acting roles were few and far between, and she quickly established herself as the “hustler” hilariously down to do anything…with a financial incentive. Famously, that includes a Depends commercial that is in her reel.

Rinna’s reception has always been a mixed baggie…akin to that one with pills she carries. Overall though, she “owned it” baby, being candid about the things that would embarrass most, and having no qualms asking a castmate if she’d done coke in her bathroom.

Love her or hate her, Rinna earned the right to hold her diamond in the opening credits of RHOBH.

Now…we have to get our minds around an even more complicated choice for a Real Housewife, a former movie star (or do we call her a current one?). Denise Richards seems too famous to be a “Real Housewife” when we’re so accustomed to meeting new ladies. Consider how Dorit was a whole lot of brand new to get used to. But perhaps therein lies the problem: Dorit is the puzzle piece in a jigsaw challenge that viewers have been unable to jostle in. It is hard to take her business, her lifestyle and her storylines (or lack thereof) seriously for many. I’m of the mindset that Dorit makes great TV because she’s physically gorgeous and an absolute mental trip. I find her to be obnoxious and my annoyance with her fuels my desire to yell at her from the safe side of the TV screen. It works for me, but it’s not working for countless others who have deemed her “phony”, “showy”, “lacking substance” and “boring”.

Denise Richards, on the other hand, has not only been in the public eye for her dramatic struggles and moves, but also had a past reality show. She dealt with the death of her mother and helping her father with his own grief. She is known for having married and divorced Charlie Sheen, had an on-again and off-again dysfunctional deal with him subsequently, battled custody with him, and rode his manic roller coaster of drug addiction debacles.

She famously became romantically entangled with the rocker ex (Richie Sambora) of her former friend Heather Locklear, who has recently made news herself for arrests and her own serious substance issues.

The best thing about reality television is that stars now know it’s the arena for candid confessionals. Denise Richards will have to “bring it”, so that’s the major plus of her being newly anointed a Housewife. Also, because she “brought it” on reality tv in the past, I doubt she will hold back on RHOBH.

So while there’s a ton to tune in for, I have to wonder if there’s a better venue for Denise (a follow-up E! reality show perhaps) to answer all the questions fans have about her past, present and future. The Real Housewives seems off-brand for her, but then again, she’s not doing a lot of movie acting these days. Is a Bravo show the next logical step for Hollywood ladies of a certain cohort when the roles have run out? Perhaps it is, and perhaps what I’ve previously considered “off brand” no longer is.

A franchise that once fascinated us with folks who flaunted their fabulosity while we thought “…and you are…?” is adding the marque of familiarity. It is like a new line of $3M Pagani cars that Dorit and Erika must test drive.

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

#SouthernCharmSavannah: Catching Up with Ashley Borders

A lot has changed for Ashley Borders, the former full time cast member on Southern Charm Savannah. This season (the show’s second), Borders makes only a few cameo appearances, with a caption that reads “Daniel’s friend.” Many viewers, with varying opinions on her from last season, feel this is an injustice because they were left hanging when it came to her “story.” A prevalent opinion is that she was the ONE character who actually made an otherwise “boring” and lackluster show something to tune in to.

In addition, she received some unsolicited advice from the more stodgy and more conservative viewers – who took to social media to opine – about making herself over, essentially to conform more to be like the others. To give you a mere metaphorical example: replacing her scoop neck tanks and cutoff shorts with Lily Pulitzer numbers that would make an Orthodox Rabbi proud (Odd reference from me, I admit, as only Daniel Eichholz of the SCS cast is Jewish).

Last season, Ashley was called out by her cast mates for excitedly discussing her styling business, but neglecting to gush about a side gig with Delta airlines which required a few scant hours per month. Viewers also snobbishly snarked about this airline opportunity and discussed how it might be “off brand” with the theme of wealth and privilege attached to the overall Southern Charm franchise.

Others deemed Ashley’s cast mates elitist. They contended that all the complaints inadvertently undermined the jobs of many Americans who do something similar to working baggage claims at airports.

Of course, on camera we saw Ashley’s cast mates insist that their gripes were about “honesty” which became a heavy storyline talking point that drove those rooting for this Southern sweetheart with the liberal views bananas.

Ashley comes from a prominent family of means, but you wouldn’t know it. She’s more focused on friendship, a new romantic relationship after recovering from divorce, her teenage son, her parents and siblings, spirituality and travel- lots of travel.

Raised in Savannah, she is the daughter of a pediatric surgeon noted as much for his skill as his charitable medical volunteer work in underdeveloped countries. Her mother’s work involves offering free clinics to people who cannot afford healthcare, and is also involved with home visits to the elderly. In addition, she helped start the first breast cancer center in the Middle East.

From the examples set by both of her parents, Ashley is committed to numerous philanthropic endeavors and focused on giving back, though she stays somewhat private about it.

In terms of the much-discussed Delta dealio and the more snooty smack she incurred from cast members last season and fans, Ashley tells me: “I have a friend who happens to be a millionaire and he did the Delta thing with me! He loved it too. It’s incredible because it gives you the opportunity to travel. He doesn’t feel that any work is above or below him. I have that same mindset. I think it’s important to work hard, not to rely on a trust fund or some sort of ‘cushioning’ when it’s wisest to save that for something important.” College tuition may be one “important” consideration for Ashley when she speaks lovingly of her son who is now in high school.

As far as the question of: Why wasn’t she forthcoming about this side hustle last season? Ashley has other, much closer friends who she talks to a ton, and we just didn’t get to see them and those conversations play out on TV. Mainly, however, she was very focused on her styling work, considering it her passion.

“I didn’t intentionally withhold things from my cast mates. Delta was great, but my great love truly was styling! I really wanted to be able to showcase it more on TV. You did get to see (in an early Season 1 episode) a shoot I worked on for a magazine – where I was in charge of the styling. I do so many things in general. I immediately felt ganged up on as I realized they wanted to make a huge deal out of Delta in a really surprising way.”

“For instance, I sell my old clothing on eBay and other cast members might do that too, but I wouldn’t lay into them for not bringing it up! Like selling clothes on eBay, the work at Delta was something I did only a few hours each month. Because I was so focused on styling, I didn’t feel defined by something I did on the side. I really wasn’t prepared for that to blow up in the way that it did…That caught me completely off guard and was disconcerting.”

Ashley no longer has the Delta side gig, but she discovered a harsh reality after appearing on Southern Charm Savannah last year. After facing some slut-shaming comments from Savannians and audience members, as well as intense critique about her struggling marriage and the Delta debacle, people in the neighborhood treated her differently.

“It became much harder to get local clients” for her styling business.

Co-parenting a teen with her ex husband Dennis, she is able to travel and work on styling projects overseas to make up for local losses. She’s also scored some acting work in the U.S. as well as some enviable projects in set design. Later this month she will appear alongside Gabriel Byrne and Kiersey Clemons in the Hollywood feature film “An L.A. Minute”.

In her first brief appearance of the season, in this past Monday’s episode, Ashley has agreed to meet with Daniel who remains a buddy of hers. You see her wearing a gold band on her left finger despite being divorced. She said that she wears a ring on that finger to avoid being hit on since she’s in a relationship with a man she is wildly passionate about.

He is someone she knew long ago: “He married someone else. I married someone else. We both got divorced and we ended up finding our way back to one another.”

There is a whole intriguing romance and a great story behind their history and reunion. I hope Ashley gets to share that one day with viewers. Meaning, I hope that if there is a Season 3 of Southern Charm Savannah, Ashley returns as a full time cast member with her beau.

In the scene that just aired with Daniel, I personally surmised that he looked uncomfortable confronting Ashley, who he has referred to as a “sweet person”, about honesty and authenticity. It is that harped-upon theme that makes some viewers’ eyes roll when they consider just how much Ashley actually did share last season. In particular, she was extremely candid about her dying marriage and lack of sex life with Dennis.

The conversation that just aired between Daniel and Ashley was incredibly brief, but she says it was longer than what we witnessed (which is always the case with reality television) and somewhat emotionally taxing.

She adds that she adores Daniel and understands why – particularly as he’s a close friend of Hannah’s – he felt the need to ask certain questions. Things were rough between Hannah and Ashley last season and Ashley conveys to me that she wishes they had patched things up then. We’ll have to stay tuned to see if they were able to fix their relationship or not.

As for her status as “friend of” this season. Ashley says: “I really want this season of Southern Charm Savannah to go well and it’s my sincere hope that more viewers tune in. After filming last season, Happy (a character who clashed with Ashley at one point on camera) has been lovely! And Happy’s mother is also incredible and very supportive! I remain close with Nelson (who didn’t return for Season 2) which is unique since we are SOOO different (she’s a liberal, he’s a staunch conservative). I disagree with him often, but we always agree to disagree and do so respectfully! I’ll tell him how I object to something, and he’s always listened and taken it in. I like Hagood, the new cast member this season, who I’ve known somewhat from around town. Daniel is a good friend and I consider his dad to be a friend of mine too – it’s kind of hilarious! He’s a great guy and I’m hoping you get to see more of their father-son interactions.”

Ashley adds that she had a real ally  in Brandon, in spite of some snide remark he made about her that viewers noted from the previews.

Ashley has received plenty of positive messages from fans, but also her fair share of hateful tweets. “I don’t understand this #HiAshley thing that’s going on, or what exactly happened to make people so passionate on social media,” she says, flummoxed at how having the name Ashley has brought on more haters, viewers glued to the original Southern Charm with a different Ashley.

Ashley Borders can cop to the fact that she too was polarizing onscreen last season, but she’s hoping people will get to see that she’s someone that cares deeply about others and feels passionately about bringing more diversity to the franchise.

“It’s frequently pointed out to me that the show has an all white cast and I’m happy that you may…I’m not positive, but maybe?…get to see my best friend, Shena, who is African American.”

Ashley Borders may have been the most misunderstood reality TV character on the most underwhelming reality show during Season 1. It is my hope that this show gains more traction as we see more scenes that capture her uniqueness, open-mindedness and authenticity.

(Pictured: Ashley Borders chatting on set with actor Gabriel Byrne)

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY: Crap with the Countess…& Chicago?

A source tells me that Luann De Lesseps’ personal publicist recently fired her. This is ALLEGED, please note, but the source goes on to add that it was because Lu wasn’t being totally truthful about her troubles — and was, generally, a handful to deal with.

This report explains why Bethenny Frankel stepped into the role of spokeswoman for Lu, and why she was the one to give Dave Quinn at People talking points for an article about Luann not attending the reunion (to undergo round two of rehab for alcohol addiction).

The source adds that the folks at Bravo “don’t want to handle her shit anymore.” An interesting Twitter handle to follow that keeps up with the RHONY-Lu shenanigans, and appears to be impressively in the know and legitimately well-connected is @myfeetonfleek.

Celebrity gossip columnist Rob Shuter (The Naughty Gossip) recently expressed to podcast host Kate Casey (Reality Life with Kate Casey) that Luann is at a point where she doesn’t “need” RHONY and has a very full life outside of the show with friends, a packed itinerary and a successful cabaret show.

He said fans should not be surprised if Lu departs the RHONY franchise to focus on family, health and sobriety. Shuter also mentioned that producers from the longstanding Broadway production of Chicago were at one of her #CountessAndFriends (cabaret) performances.

Luann De Lesseps starring in Chicago in the near future? Could that actually happen?

For now, without official personal PR representation, the best person to ask might just be Bethenny!

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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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