As the “Real Housewives” franchise heads for Beverly Hills (swimmin’ pools! movie stars!), Bravo exec Andy Cohen admits to being a little worried about the show passing what he calls “the Jackie Collins test.”
Even more than Manhattan or the high-rent districts in Atlanta and Orange County, viewers are likely to tune in to “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” which bows Oct. 14, with very specific ideas of what to expect from a group of Beverly Hills hausfraus.
Cohen says the cabler and producers worked hard to assemble a group that can serve up the requisite glamour, glitz, showbiz connections and football field-sized living rooms.
“To me it’s just monumental eye candy, just looking at their homes and the lifestyles,” says Cohen, who is Bravo’s senior veep of original programming and host of its weekly chat show “Watch What Happens: Live.”
Driving home the point of prodigious wealth in a funny way is the sight in one episode of Adrienne Maloof — who, with her four brothers, oversees the Maloof clan’s range of investments (the Palms Casino, the Sacramento Kings, etc.) — running across the street to her friend Lisa Vanderpump’s house. Except that in Beverly Hills, “it’s not like you can just run across the street to the neighbor’s,” Cohen notes. “It’s a real schlep.”
Bravo had no shortage of contenders for the BevHills series, which lensed over four months earlier this year.
Vanderpump, an ex-pat Brit, is a restaurateur who owns BevHills’ Villa Blanca and Sur in West Hollywood. Camille Grammer has been in the headlines amid her contentious divorce from thesp Kelsey Grammer.
Sisters Kim Richards and Kyle Richards have the showbiz connections as former child stars (their other sister, Kathy, happens to be mom to Paris and Nicky Hilton). Taylor Armstrong, an Oklahoma native, brings the big-money connections through her husband, venture capitalist Russell Armstrong.
Among the surprises that defy the stereotype of the pampered Beverly Hills matron is the level of sophistication that the women bring to their business ventures, Cohen says.
“We have several really strong businesswomen,” he says. “I think some people will be surprised to see how hard they work.”