7 Things We Learned From 'The Real Housewives' Tell-All 'Not All Diamonds and Rosé'
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Life's not all diamonds and rosé, but the book by that name -- Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Inside Story of the Real Housewives From the People That Lived It by Dave Quinn -- pairs well with the latter (or your non-alcoholic beverage of choice). Bravoholics will devour the nearly 500-page tome, which chronicles the ins and outs of how The Real Housewives became a (pop) cultural phenomenon, featuring more than 150 interviews with the women at the forefront of the franchise, as well as the brilliant minds working behind the screens to bring them to TV.
The authorized oral history of the Housewives franchise reads a little like redacted government documents at times, with some of the juiciest info fans are sure to want -- like intel on how contracts work, what kind of money these women are making and just exactly how the sausage is made (i.e. how production really operates when it comes to filming scenes vs. filming confessional interviews) -- not included, but there are still plenty of fun reveals, many in the form of producers confirming theories about certain iconic moments. Individual interviews with the cast and crew are woven together in city-curated conversations to make the reader feel as if they're sitting at a big roundtable with all the players at once.
It's worth noting the book isn't quite up to date, with the author pausing his exploration into the series in November 2020. That means The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is not included, nor is the news of The Real Housewives of Dallas going on indefinite hiatus, how The Real Housewives of New York City will move forward after the cancelation of the season 13 reunion, where The Real Housewives of Atlanta is headed after Cynthia Bailey and Porsha Williams' exits, and no deep dive into this bombshell season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, currently captivating audiences with the Erika Jayne saga.
With that said, here are 7 takeaways ET picked up from Not All Diamonds and Rosé that are sure to have Bravo lovers talking.
1. The show almost pivoted into The Real World territory, with the network casting and following a new crop of women every season.
"That was an ongoing discussion," Lauren Zalaznick, former Executive Vice President of NBCUniversal, tells the author of the conversation near the tail end of The Real Housewives of Orange County's debut season in 2006. "'Should we recast entirely?' … Because surely if you were real people doing real things, why would you ever be interested in living your lives out on camera for a second season?"
It was Andy Cohen (future Watch What Happens Live host and Housewives reunion moderator, but then a development executive at Bravo -- and now-publisher behind this book) who championed continuing to follow the women viewers were falling in love with, taking a page out of the playbook from his beloved soap operas. The first season of the show was actually overseen by a former soap opera writer/producer, who helped to reshape RHOC from a Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque slice of life experiment into what's now known as the docusoap format.
2. Tamra Judge fought to keep Gretchen Rossi on RHOC, despite (or rather, because of) their feud.
Producers interviewed for the book seem to agree that Tamra Judge changed the game when it came to The Real Housewives, helping to shape the franchise into what it's best known for -- drama -- from the moment she joined the show. A polarizing figure among viewers and cast members alike, fans are sure to be surprised to learn that Tamra fought for Gretchen to keep her orange.
"There was one year, I can't remember which, but they were sending out pickup letters and I got a call from Kathleen French [Senior Vice President of Current Production at Bravo] who said, 'I don’t think we’re bringing back Gretchen,'" Tamra recalls. "Gretchen and I weren't on good terms, but I told Kathleen, 'You have to bring her back.' Our fight was the show. I fought for Gretchen, who I didn’t even like, because I knew we needed her." Gretchen did not grant an interview for the book, so it’s unclear whether she’s aware of this.
Another Tamra fun-fact? She claims a producer instructed her to throw wine in Jeana Keough's face! The story is a little muddy depending on who you ask, though.
3. Some familiar faces almost made it to RHOC!
While The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is known for actresses joining the show, a handful of famous faces have expressed interest in doing the other Southern California-set show. Kristy Swanson, the original Buffy from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, auditioned for season 12, while Mariel Hemingway entered talks a few different times over the years. Casting producers also regularly reach out to Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, who turns down the offer year after year.
4. There's more than speculation that Bethenny Frankel set up the "It’s about Tom" moment.
Back in 2016, "It’s about Tom" entered the Real Housewives lexicon after Bethenny Frankel revealed to Luann de Lesseps that her then-fiancé, Tom D'Agostino, was seemingly caught cheating on her at the infamous Regency hotel. The women of The Real Housewives of New York City were on vacation in Palm Beach, Florida, (ironically to celebrate Luann's impending nuptials) when Bethenny came clean about the information that had landed in her hands: photographic proof of the encounter.
"It was a total setup," Carole Radziwill claims. "Bethenny knew this woman and found out that she was in contact with Tom. And Bethenny was like, 'The next time you go to see him, text me.' And that's what happened. Bethenny knew that they were going to this hotel, and she sent her friend or probably her assistant to take a picture. I mean, Bethenny doesn't have a lot of friends -- and she certainly didn't just happen to have a friend at the Regency at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday night when Tom just happened to be there kissing some chick he used to bang."
"Bethenny totally planned that Tom thing," Ramona Singer adds, backing up Carole. "She knew what was going on and sent someone to photograph that."
"And here's how calculating Bethenny is," Ramona continues, "When she told Luann about Tom having a kissing moment with someone else, she was like, 'Hold on, I need a drink. Give me that bottle' -- which happened to be a Skinnygirl drink. She wanted to make sure it was in the film."
There are plenty more feelings from Bethenny's co-stars about her perennial on-air branding of her business and limited filming availability to read in the book. Bethenny did not contribute an interview.
5. Shereé Whitfield claims NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak faked their season 1 friendship for TV.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta section leaves a bit to be desired, seeing as neither NeNe nor Kim -- the show's early defining characters -- granted an interview to the author. Fellow OG Shereé Whitfield does the heavy lifting in this chunk of the book, with her recollection of events becoming the official history.
"They hadn't talked in years," Shereé claims of NeNe and Kim. "They weren't friends! They fell out because NeNe, being the shady person she was, went behind Kim's back and tried to befriend her ex. … They only reconciled right before we got the show. It was all for TV."
While NeNe didn’t provide any quotes in the book, she is spoken about by nearly everyone, with Kandi Burruss sharing some insight into NeNe's somewhat mysterious/controversial exit from the series (but you'll need to pick up the book for those quotes).
6. A producer crawled under the infamous flipped table moments before Teresa Giudice's explosion at Danielle Staub.
Fans can seemingly thank producer Carlos King for one of the franchise's most defining moments. Danielle Staub told Carlos she wanted to bring a copy of Cop Without a Badge -- the book that grabbed the attention of Danielle's season 1 castmates, because it documented her pre-show life under her birth name, Beverly Ann Merrill -- to the finale dinner. Because Danielle wanted the book reveal to be a surprise, she couldn't just walk into the restaurant holding a copy, which (by the way) she asked be hardcover.
"Danielle had handed me her purse when she had arrived to set with the book," Carlos explains. "And when the time was right, I crawled under the table and put the book next to Danielle. … Next thing we knew, Teresa flipped the table. And all the other producers ran for cover, but I ran into the dining area because my instinct was like, 'OK, let me make sure no one got hurt.'"
Teresa reflects on the moment in the book, calling the flip "no big deal." She goes on to explain that she was actually upset with Danielle for sleeping with a guy at Teresa's shore house, which is how she came up with the dig "prostitution whore."
"That all got lost in the noise," Teresa says, noting that if you go back and watch the moment carefully, you’ll hear her say just this.
The strangest part of the table flip, though, might be that the entire cast stayed at the restaurant and got drinks together as if nothing had happened!
7. Even the RHOBH executive producer thinks Lisa Vanderpump played the show like a game of chess.
Kyle Richards once compared filming The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with Lisa Vanderpump to playing chess against prodigy Bobby Fisher, and the man who's been at the helm of the show since its inception is backing up that comparison in this book.
"Lisa didn't want any focus being taken away from her," Chris Cullen, Executive Producer of RHOBH, says, claiming the restauranteur felt "threatened" when Yolanda Hadid joined the show. "Brandi [Glanville] was the first example of Lisa recruiting other people to do her dirty work for her," he goes on to say, referencing two moments early on in Brandi's tenure on RHOBH that she pinned on Lisa: exposing Adrienne Maloof for using a surrogate to have her children, and bringing tabloids with reports of marital trouble for Kyle and her husband, Mauricio Umansky, on a cast trip.
Later, Chris states as fact that Lisa planted the "puppy-gate" story that eclipsed season 9. (For what it's worth, Shari Levine, Executive Vice President of Entertainment Content at NBCUniversal, makes it known that she finds it frustrating how the RHOBH cast winds up stuck on one topic season after season).
"When Lisa lost the narrative of the show, when she realized that it wasn't going the way she wanted, that’s when she leaked the story to the press," Chris alleges. "She got it out there before we had a chance to show that Lisa wasn't telling the truth."
Lisa doesn't comment on any of this in the book, despite being interviewed for it -- and has held steadfast that she didn't plant the puppy story. The Beverly Hills section is the most chock-full of confirmations about both fan theories and theories floated by the 'Wives themselves over the years. Lisa Rinna even reveals a producer is the one who told her people were allegedly doing cocaine in Dorit Kemsley's bathroom!
For more insight into the world of The Real Housewives -- including tales from the realms of DC, Potomac and Dallas -- pick up a copy of Not All Diamonds and Rosé wherever books are sold.
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