Outword Magazine

March 9, 2006

The Real Housewives Comes To Bravo

By Fred Palmer

Move over “Desperate Housewives!” “The Real Housewives of Orange County” is about to show the world that real housewives in the real world are funnier, sexier and have even more incredible and unbelievable tales to tell about their very real lives.

“The Real Housewives of Orange County” is a new reality show that will premiere on the Bravo Network. Dave Rupel is one of the executive producers of the show and has recently relocated from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Since Rupel is also the partner of Outword Publisher, Fred Palmer, Palmer couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask him about the new show.

So, other than the fact that you’re my partner – why should people watch the show?
(Laughs) You mean that’s not reason enough? It’s a very entertaining and fun show. You’ll love to hate watching it. Bravo has been home to a number of cutting edge, gay and gay-friendly shows and is known as the “unofficial gay network,” with shows like Gay Weddings, Boy Meets Boy, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Project Runway. A friend of mine is producing another reality show for them about a lesbian gym owner that will air this summer.

So tell me about Real Housewives. The name implies a similarity to Desperate Housewives.
It’s similar in that the show revolves around the lives of five women and their families, and has a lot of classic soap opera elements. Beautiful women, hot guys, diamonds, plastic surgery, secrets, gossip.

So are any of the women having an affair with the hot young gardener like on Desperate Housewives?
There are no gardeners, but one of the women has an 18 year-old son, Shane, who is 6’3”, a baseball jock, looks like an Abercrombie & Fitch model, and spends many episodes shirtless.

Finally! The gay angle! Dynasty, Melrose Place and Desperate Housewives all have gay characters. Does your show?
We don’t have any out gay people, but one participant’s sexuality is questioned. More than once.

Any other sneak previews?
There is a moment early on when one of the mother’s, Jeana, is refereeing a fight between her two kids, Shane, and Kara, 16. Kara is complaining about always getting hand-me-downs, which seems very normal … until you realize she’s complaining about having to drive a year old Mercedes convertible. That’s our show in a nutshell. Rich people just lead very different lives.

Are any of the people sympathetic?
Of course, every show has to have an underdog. We have Lauri, who is a recently divorced woman who can no longer afford to live in the gated community, but still works there for one of the other ladies. Lauri struggles a great deal during the series – her son gets in trouble with the law, her daughter gets in serious financial trouble and she tends to pick the wrong men. But she is so endearing, you can’t help but root for her.

Any other serious issues?
Another one of our women unexpectedly faces a life-threatening illness. Some of the scenes are just heartbreaking to watch.

When will Real Housewives hit the airwaves?
The show will premiere on the Bravo Network on Tuesday, March 21, at 10 p.m. and will run for seven weeks.

What are some of your other credits?
I started in the scripted world, writing cop shows like, In the Heat of the Night and Homicide: Life on the Street. When I was between writing jobs, a friend offered me a job on The Real World: Los Angeles. That’s before the category “reality” even existed. I go way back in the genre.

What other reality shows have you produced?
Big Brother, Temptation Island, Meet My Folks and Bands Reunited for VH1, Bug Juice for Disney Channel and American Princess for WE.

You have moved to Sacramento, does that mean you are leaving Hollywood and TV producing?
Not at all. More and more TV work is being done outside of Hollywood. Since I started in reality, I’ve worked in four countries and 40 states. Rarely have I produced a show in LA. I’m also looking into Sacramento-based production, such as political advertising.

Is that possible?
The way I look at it, in my career, I’ve written for magazines, prime-time cop shows, daytime dramas and produced reality. It all comes down to good storytelling. Whether you are telling a tale of a cheating spouse, a kid at summer camp, a murderer, or a ballot initiative, you have to grab the audience’s attention – and you have to make them remember it. That’s what I plan on doing.

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