Lisa Vanderpump made the pandemic productive. While her regular TV gig (Vanderpump Rules) and restaurants (SUR, Pump, TomTom and the recently shuttered-for-good Villa Blanca) lied dormant, she got busy, first by launching a podcast. Then, by shooting three new series: Vanderpump Dogs for Peacock, Pooch Perfect for ABC and Overserved With Lisa Vanderpump for E!, the first of the batch to premiere.
"We were cooking and we were decorating tables and we were having fun … and I just thought, ‘Wow, wouldn't it be fun to do something documenting all of this?’" Lisa recalls of how the idea for Overserved came to her in the middle of quarantine. The series sees famous friends -- some old, some new -- dropping by Lisa’s Los Angeles estate, Villa Rosa, for one-of-a-kind dinner parties. Her husband, Ken Todd, their daughter, Pandora, and her husband, Jason Sabo, join in on the fun, too. Lisa’s son, Max, relocated to Idaho during the pandemic.
"[The production company] said, ‘Who would you want to have to dinner?’ This was the fun part," she gushes. "You can literally say, ‘I want to meet that person. Reach out to them, see if they'll come to dinner.’"
The season features stars Iggy Azalea, Trixie Mattel (a personal favorite of Lisa’s), fellow Bravo alums Heather and Terry Dubrow and Jeff Lewis, as well as Margaret Cho, Steve-O, Cheryl Hines, Joel McHale, Jeannie Mai and her The Real co-host Loni Love, Anna Camp, The Talk's Sheryl Underwood and more. Episode 1 kicks off with Lisa's old friend Lance Bass, his husband, Michael Turchin, and one of Lisa’s dream gets, actress Vivica A. Fox, whom she had never met, but admired from afar.
"She's so glamorous, but she's also a butt kicking woman. I want her," Lisa quips, copping up to having a bit of a crush on the Kill Bill star.
"She was just all types of fabulous," Lisa says. "Maybe I was more excited about seeing that because I hadn't seen anything fabulous for about nine months. So she walked in -- and she was also a serious laugh. You know, the girl's got a sense of humor. So I loved her. I had an amazing time with her and Lance and Mike, I'm so comfortable with."
Maybe a little too comfortable. Michael lives up to the title of the show, getting into some drunken antics and a proclamation that he’s "Team Rinna," as in Lisa Rinna, LVP's former Real Housewives co-star.
"Oh my God, I don't even care," Lisa says of the moment. "He just said ‘Team Rinna’ for joke because that was the second of it."
"I don't really mention them -- and it's not because I'm trying to avoid it," she says of the Housewives. "It's because I don't really think about them. The lion doesn't care what the sheep were doing."
When asked who from the season 9 lineup of RHOBH (Lisa's final season on the show) she'd be willing to invite over for a dinner party, Lisa struggles to pick a name, and ultimately declares she’d rather give up hosting parties altogether than invite the Beverly Hills Housewives over for Overserved.
"Oh no, that would never happen," she declares. "Never. … Because you know, it got too mean, and they're coming at me and yelling at me and accusing me. Sure, yeah. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to Radar Online to give a story? Said no one, ever."
"When they were so mean, I just wanted to walk away from it," she adds, saying she’s made more than peace with her decision to part ways with the show that made her famous. "I just don't spend any time talking about [it]. I haven't watched the show since."
"I don't hold any resentment," Lisa notes. "If they were that mean, then they had a reason for doing it and good luck to them. I'm going on. Vanderpump Rules will live on -- I shouldn't say that -- but you know, it's been a hell of a journey."
The future of Vanderpump Rules has been a bit up in the air since last summer, when season 8 concluded amid controversy. Bravo and the production company behind the show, Evolution, opted to fire longtime co-stars Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute, citing a past racially insensitive incident the two had with former castmate Faith Stowers. Then, with restaurants shut down due to the pandemic, the show didn't start filming like it normally does in May or June. Cameras still haven't gone up on a ninth season, but Lisa promises it's coming.
"I'm not allowed to say anything until Bravo announces it," she’s quick to point out. "But there's always a lot of stories, because it's legitimately a restaurant with a lot of young people. We've lost a couple of people along the way, unfortunately, but there's still a lot of people that the audience know and love that they're still involved in Vanderpump Rules."
Brittany Cartwright and Jax Taylor announced they were parting ways with the show in December (though it's unclear if that was their decision, the network's or somewhere in between), meaning the show is down at least six cast members going into season 9 (Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni were also let go due to past racist social media posts). With the extra-long hiatus and cast changes, Vanderpump fans have missed out on some major life moments for the SUR-vers. Stassi gave birth to a baby girl in January, Scheana Shay and Brittany are soon to have babies of their own, and Lala Kent welcomed her daughter, Ocean, just this week.
"You might see little glimpses of it," Lisa teases of the milestones the show’s cameras missed. "I think people will just be glad to see them back. You know, I love Lala, I think, yeah, she was naughty and she got it wrong sometimes, but that's what Vanderpump Rules is, and that's what life is. It's about, they were young and they were growing up and they were finding their way. And she's just such a lovely girl. You're going to see her on Overserved, actually, Lala."
Lisa’s in the middle of reopening her restaurants. SUR started serving to a limited capacity earlier this year, while Pump reopened Wednesday (despite what recent headlines about a tax issue had to say). Lisa hopes to bring TomTom back once indoor dining at a large capacity is OK’d by Los Angeles County, and says the decision to close Villa Blanca had as much to do with real estate as it did the pandemic.
"The lease was up," she says, matter of factly. "So, we just closed through COVID. We were going to reopen, but then by the time the indoor dining comes round, the lease would have been finished. So a lot of our friends didn't survive it. 10,000 restaurants were closed down."
"And people say, 'Oh, you're rich.' I'm a working woman," she adds, speaking to criticism over how her restaurants handled the challenges of COVID-19. "I can't afford to keep four restaurants going, paying the rents, paying all the insurance -- which are a fortune -- for a year with nothing coming in. So, it's been tough, but listen, people have lost their lives. How many in America, what is it? 600,000 people. We took that very seriously and we were very careful."
Lisa was also careful when it came to production. She filmed Overserved, Pooch Perfect and Vanderpump Dogs under strict COVID protocols (Vanderpump Dogs, while filmed, does not yet have a premiere date). According to Lisa, Pooch Perfect and Vanderpump Dogs are the perfect pairing for dog lovers, as Vanderpump Dogs follows heartfelt stories of rescue and adoption, while Pooch Perfect serves as an escapist competition (hosted by Lisa’s new pal, Rebel Wilson). The series puts $100,000 on the line to find the most creative dog grooming pair in the U.S.
"Pooch Perfect was just a blast for me," she proclaims. "Doing that, to be a judge on a competition show, that would be great. But to do a competition show about dogs? That to me is, like, a gift."
On top of all this, Lisa is also writing a memoir, but she's keeping details close to the vest.
"How could it be a tell-all? I've told you everything anyway," she jokes. "There's a lot about my experiences. What I'm trying to write is, and this isn't a book that I think of a title and a ghost writer is writing it. I have written … thousands and thousands and thousands of words."
"I'm trying to write the book I would like to have read when I was younger," she says. "I've loved doing inspirational women speaking, so it's a motivational book, but it has a lot of stories, where I think I went wrong or I could have done this and what I've learned from my mistakes or things that have scared me in the past that shouldn't have. It's going to be a lot about that."