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'Real Housewives of Orange County': Jeana Keough on why she's leaving and what she really thinks of Vicki

Jeana_keough She provides the oh-so-awesome zingers each episode (sometimes at the expense of the other housewives). But Jeana Keough, one of original Orange County "Housewives," says she’s ditching the cameras to focus on work.

The 52-year-old Wisconsin native and one-time Playboy Playmate, found the down real estate market challenging, so she’s saying goodbye to the cat fights (or is it cougar fights?) to focus her attention on short sales and escrow disbursements.  Her exit is highlighted in Thursday’s episode.

I spoke with Jeana over the phone Monday morning. Here’s what she had to say about her departure, what she really thinks of Vicki and … the prospect of another ‘Housewives’ wedding?

Readers of our Show Tracker blog have really been vocal about their disappointment over your departure. What would you like to say to them?

I’ll be back. I’m working on some other things.  So I think I’ll be back on TV shortly.

Why did you initially want to do the show?

You know what, the show was written about my family. The producer was a former neighbor; he always said your family should be a reality show. You guys are Ozzy Osbourne, but without the drugs. He would come over and it was always craziness. So then when we moved to our bigger house, he'd come over and say, "You should have a revolving door as your front door. There’s always somebody here." So he started with that. He came to us and asked if he could film us for one day for a pilot he was thinking of doing. And I will do anything to help a friend, so we said yes. And then when it actually sold we were kind of stuck. And, you know, the kids enjoyed it the first few years. And then it got to be a little tough on them. With editing, you could have great moments. You can hit a home run and it will show you striking out.  They just thought there was more negative than positive for them. And I need to focus on work. I really need to focus on work….

Well, now that we’re on the topic. Explain a little more about why you decided to leave the show.

Work. My real estate just went down two-thirds because I wasn’t around the summer to do the open houses and do the things that make me successful. I mean, you can have 15 listings but if you’re not the one sitting on them on the weekend and telling the people the positive things about the houses and why they should buy this house instead of another house -- it just … me not being there hurt my sales. The market changed horribly anyway. And me taking off four months in the height of the season was just really hard on me. I needed a summer to get my business back on track. I took a few other jobs. I’m doing, like, three spokesperson jobs. I needed to focus on my income. Loan modifications and short sales take an extraordinary amount of time over a normal sale. So I had to do four loan modifications on four properties. Plus helping all my clients do their short sales.  I really didn’t have time to do the show. I had to move Kara from Berkeley down to UCLA. I had to go college searching with Colton. The kids were at a point in their life where they wanted a break from it. They really enjoyed their break from it … but now they miss it.

Over the seasons, we see the ins and outs of your relationship with Vicki. You guys bicker occasionally, but you always seem to work things out. This season, we learn that you asked to borrow money from Vicki and she didn’t help you out. And it seems you sort of lost touch. 

Talk a little bit about the situation.

It was a small amount of money. It was a deadline for summer school and I didn’t get a check for a week. It was a small amount of money for a small amount of time. It meant nothing. I picked up the phone and called my next friend. It didn’t bother me at all. It just … I don’t know. It hurt my feelings just for a second. But I didn’t dwell on it. I don’t even know why she mentioned it. It was an insignificant thing.  I’m not sure. It didn’t hurt my friendship with her. We just got busy. You see in the next few episodes, she traveled a lot this summer. She had to go to a whole bunch of different states for work. And she traveled with the show to a couple of different places.  She wasn’t around. Normally, I went on vacations with her. If she was going to Mexico, we’d go. But I’m on a Mexican moratorium so I didn’t go this year.

So have you guys mended your relationship?

We’re actually good … we’ll be in a New York for a few days together. We’re looking forward to shopping—we’re hoping we have some time for it. We get along fine. She just asked me to pick up her dresses. We have each other’s back. With some editing, she says some things that are mean tonight, so maybe I’ll kick her [rear]  when I see her tomorrow. You have to be careful with what you say six months ago in the heat of the moment.  And, like, Vicki switched Realtors. That hurt my feelings for half a second. But who cares? It’s just a few hundred dollars. Tamra Barney is her own Realtor so I was really shocked to see she hired another Realtor to do her job. What are you doing? You’re a Realtor. Why are you hiring another Realtor? I don’t know. I guess she’s giving up real estate or something because that was odd. If you don’t think you’re a good enough Realtor to see your own house, why is anyone else going to think you’re any good? I wasn’t sure what her decision was on that one. I’ll have to talk with her one of these days.

What do you think of the Tamra-Gretchen feud?

I told Tamra many, many times: "It’s none of your business. One guy woke you up one night. Get over it. Say you’re sorry." We actually did an appearance where she apologized on TV.  She wanted to do it on TV so everyone would know. She did apologize. She wanted to move on. But, of course, the episode came out and it brought up bad feelings. Hopefully, it’s done now and we can move on.

What about Gretchen and Slade’s relationship? True love?

I have a feeling they will be the next wedding.  They’re very, very close. And they’re so cute together. Gretchen’s a girlfriend kind of girl. She wants to be married and have kids so … I think they’re in it for the long haul.

Do you keep in contact with the ladies when the cameras aren’t rolling?

I do. I just was with Lynne and Quinn the other day at a Taste of San Clemente.

What is Quinn up to?

Quinn is awesome. She lived with me for about six months while she was trying to decide if she was going to move to Eureka and remarry her ex-husband. And she decided to buy a house in Eureka and changed her mind about marrying her ex-husband. She’s still here for another six months and then she is going to move to Eureka to be near her zillions of grandchildren. I think she’ll be bored out of her mind, but. …

What about Kimberly and Laurie?

I just talked to Kimberly the other day because last time I went, she flew to New York to meet us and went to dinner with us. But I don’t think she’s going to make it because our schedule’s too short. Last time we were there longer. I just talked to her. Her daughter is looking at colleges so we had a lot to talk about because Colton’s doing the same thing. Her daughter’s really interested in Brown. Her son is fine. She’s very happy with her decision to move out of Orange County. None of the skin cancers have come back so she made the right choice to keep their little bodies out of the sun. She’s made a few new close friends.
Laurie … I e-mail her once in awhile. But I really haven’t talked to her since our barbecue -- when we filmed it together.

And Jo?

Jo … Somebody said she was working at karaoke ... doing bar tending at a karaoke bar as a part-time job. And she’s studying acting. I don't know what's happening with her music career. Slade talks to her a little bit and keeps me updated. I used to get a call once a month from her. I think she’s just really busy. Kara’s talked to her a couple of times. Kara’s interning at E! and she’s called Jo a couple of times to verify facts or something.

I talk to Slade once a week at least. Gretchen texts me a couple of times a day.  I keep in touch with everybody.

What have Shane and Colton been up to?

Shane is off-season right now. He’s working for something called All Pro Sports; he’s one of the spokespeople for it. It’s a protein thing he’s trying to take it to [Major League Baseball]. And I think he has something going on in Vegas because he seems to be going there every other weekend.

Colton’s in high school. He just finished doing Angels Elite, which is the scout team for the Angels baseball team. He gets to play his games at Angel Stadium on Wednesday night. How fun is that? Just to be on that cool field. He’s having a great time. He’s doing great in school. All As and Bs -- good boy. He’s just doing the college search. He’s been a little high-strung lately because it’s so much work. He didn’t listen to me about the timing. I had to hire him a college counselor to make sure he stays on track. Kara did it all herself. And she went to Berkeley for two years and switched to UCLA. She’s in heaven.

So will you still tune in every Thursday?

Oh, of course.

How would you say the show -- or even the ladies -- has changed over the seasons?

We’ve all matured. Kathleen French, our producer, said to me that the fifth season, the fourth season are so tough because the women are aware of their image. The woman are aware of their angles, the location … it’s not as sweet and spontaneous as the first few seasons. It’s really a struggle to get the kind of footage you want when the women are too camera-smart. It should almost be a scripted show as you get to the fifth season because it’s hard to catch them as naturally as you did in the beginning.

This is an even tougher season because we're seeing how the economy has affected your lifestyles. That's a vulnerable position.

Right. A couple of us were really willing to share our lives. The only misconception I’m upset about is people seem to think I’m this down-and-out woman. I’m still extremely wealthy. I have a pretty large net worth with all my properties.  Because I was cash poor -- the problem was, I used all my savings to carry a couple of people that were in my rentals that were personal friends and mortgage brokers. I did not think the market was so going to be so bad that these brokers wouldn’t make money for a year and a half.  That was tough. So finally one of my friends said, "Let them move in with you so you can at least rent the properties." And I thought "what a great idea," so that’s what I did.

So do you think the housewives get a bad rap for the lavish lifestyles they have?

Well, you know, all of our lifestyles have changed. Everyone has turned in a couple of cars and downsized. Some of them are downsizing their homes. I think we’re showing an accurate portrayal of Orange County. Everyone in Orange County has been affected. From my housekeeper -- there are some things I won’t give up: the pool man, the plant man and the housekeeper. I will walk before I give them up.  I can’t stand a green pool and I love green plants. And I want a clean toilet.

What will you miss most about being on the show?

I thought I would miss going out -- no matter where you go, there’s a million people to talk to. I thought I would miss that. And then the show got syndicated and now I can’t go anywhere.  Especially with me leaving the show -- everyone has to come give me their opinion and buy me a drink. My sons love to go out with me because they doesn’t have to spend a penny on drinks.

Do you watch any of the other versions: Atlanta, New York…

I TiVo them all. I don’t get to watch them all. I try to keep up on them. Jill and I talk every other week or so. I haven’t talked to Bethenney since she got engaged and pregnant. Hopefully I’ll see them when they’re in New York, if they’re there.

Now for some word association. Describe your fellow, now former, 'Housewives' in one word:

Is that possible?

Try. Vicki:




Tamra: Fireball




Spicey … It’s kind of funny. I’ve known her husband a few years cause we do business together. He does loans and stuff. It was really interesting to see their relationship in last week’s episode. I didn’t know it was that way. He’s kind of a controller. It was interesting. Tamra and Alexis both seem to have these men that want to control them. Interesting. I have always been the pants in the relationship because my husband traveled. I was the man. I was the husband, the wife, the whatever. I did it all. So I could so not have a relationship like that. One of the guys I’m dating now is a coach. And that I can handle. I don’t have to cut his meat. It’s so funny to watch the relationships of different people and I think that’s why people are fascinated with the show. My dating life has been tough because I have the boomerang ex-husband. He keeps coming back. He needs my help. I help everyone, so how can I not help him? It’s really hard to date when the boomerang shows up for a couple of weeks at a time.

I'm sure things will work out.

I think they will. I have lots of things going on right now. I’m working on a book. Keeping myself busy. It’s a book about my life -- being from Wisconsin; being a Playmate and the Hollywood lifestyle and taking a break and coming back to reality TV wonderland.

When will that be done?

Maybe a year. It takes a long time to do it right.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Jeana Keough.  Credit: Bravo

Comments () | Archives (19)

I stopped watching the show after uncomfortably witnessing Jeana and her friends and sons having dinner one night. Her sons were speaking so incredibly disrespectfully to her and she just took it -did absolutely nothing! I was horrified and could never wrap my head around why this battered woman was tolerating such treatment! I could have thought of thirty things she should have done to assert herself! Now I just read that she was the man in her family and wore the pants. I cannot believe this after seeing that scene. She is just misguided and, like most of these ridiculously superficial women is hopelessly lost in la la land.

I will definitely miss Jeana. She was kooky, yes, but at the same time she was able to step outside the drama and say what she thought, regardless of which housewife she was commenting on. Whether or not she was the most beautiful, the richest, or most stylish on the show, Jeana didn't take her frustrations or jealousy out on the other women like the aging Tamra or petty Vicki. And while Tamra freaks out on everyone around her, including her husband, over the financial situation she's in, Jeana is being realistic and taking action. For that, I ain't mad at her for doing what she has to do.

I agree with the above comment about that restaurant scene. Jenna's version of events/people and reality are 2 different things. Everything is spin spin spin. Not that I blame her, it's not easy to have your life plastered out there for all to see. Gretchen is the worst, she is ruining the show.

I have always regarded Jeana as the voice of reason on RHOC. She balances out the kooky ones. I live in Newport Beach, and Jeana seems the most like the people I meet here in real life. I will miss seeing her on the show.


Aww. I'm gonna miss her. She was my favorite. She's like the Caroline Manzo and Jill Zarin of the group. So motherly and nice.

I am one of those men who use to have one of these wives. Five years after our divorce, my ex is now losing the house in Dana Point and has gone through the money she extorted. Our 2 children got tired of their mother real quick and have been with me here at the Lake happily.

These women are utter tacky trash and i have no doubt that each will get their just rewards inevitably, just like my gold digging tramp has.

These "Housewife" programs have done nothing but shown the world just how spoiled and shallow American women are...ugh!

I think Alexis and her husband are misunderstood. I do no think it is controlling at all that her husband does not think its ok to parade around Lingerie in fron of people or cameras. I think its appropriate. From what I have seen from tonights show I think that they respect eachother and their family enough to think before acting stupid on a realty show...Maybe the other ladies should try it.

She wants to assure people she's still wealthy, just cash poor. Okay, whatever you say, Jeana.

Does anything else in life matter, other than money? God, I was half way on my way to liking her but it just confirmed, yet again, that she shouldn't be admired for her intellect.

Jeana was the best. I do think you are blind to the abuse you were taking by your boys however, I think you are resolving that after viewing it on TV. You are my favorite because you are the only one that doesn't appear to be fake and phoney. Vicki, the worst. I would never trust her if I were you. If you watch her on the interview of your last show she was shaking her head no while you were talking your truth by answering a direct question about Tamra , as you should since the show is supposed to be real!! Vicki says the opposite of everyone because she is a know it all and the type of person that rubs everyone, even her own children the wrong way. She clearly dislikes you and you don't need her!! If I were you I would never change your personality and stay true as you have. That is the reason people love you and hate some of the others. You would be much better off not to trust her. It is obvious she is putting an act on and no longer real. It doesn't matter because no one likes the real or fake Vicki. Tamra is clearly white trash and Simon tries to make her not be but it still shows through loud and clear. Tamra, you want to be like Gretchen so you put her down because you cannot be her. It is transparent to us all that you are insecure with yourself to need to be so mean to her. Who cares about Gretchen's motives with men, it isn't your business as Jeana said. I may stop watching with Jeana gone cuz I agree it appears very scripted now. Don and Vicki are fake, Vicki is the evil women and I would never read a book written by her for fear something may rub off. I miss Lori and love Jeana too so the show has lost a lot of fizzle now. Best Wishes for your future Jeana. The rest should try to live authentic lives. Vicki should stop calling herself married cuz she's not. Don, move on.

Lauri and Jenna were the best Real Housewives. Now they are both gone and the show has really lost its only truly genuine people. I will be changing the channel.

Jeana always seems depressed to me. She never seems to be enjoying herself, but just going through the motions. She never seems happy.
And to "Sally M" above, you are EXACTLY right about Vicki. A snake-in-the-grass, and very UGLY to boot. Jeana needs to be very wary of Vicki. I wouldn't trust Vicki any farther than I could throw her. Vicki needs a total makeover and she needs to stop trying to look like a teenage hooker. How can anyone stand her?

Tamra is one of those girls you absolutely hated in High School. Not because they were very pretty but because they were so self-sentered and unbelievably shallow and mean. No matter what you say to Tamra, she is right and everyone else is wrong. The things she said to Gretchan ar really something. Then you see how her husband treats her-he is so embarrassed by her!He is such a control freak and this marriage won't last. Jeana always said what was on her mind and with class-unlike Tamra.Yes, she is wealthy and good for her--Gretchen is so adorable-she deserves happiness and I hope she and Slade are happy-I never liked him though--I don't think he can be trusted-if she gains weight will he still love her?He seems shallow but I don't think she sees that side of him--the new girl is just weird-their relationship is creepy--I love the show and hope for good things for Jeana!

Dear Jeana
You will be missed. I dont like watching the show because you balance all the craziness. Now its just a bunch of nuts . I like Gretchen and I agree with you totally about Tamra needing to apologize. Now you wont be there to keep everyone in line. Vicki and Tamra stir up the pot all the time and they make no sense at all and they are just mean girls. The jealousy that Tamra has for Gretchen is very obvious . You remind me of how I am with all of my friends you are a real friend. You are honest and sweet and you raised 3 beautiful kids.
You should be proud that you raised such a confident daughter. She really is going to be successful in her life and she has it all moms good looks etc...
Good luck and we hope to see you soon.

Like Claudia, I was shocked, embarassed and appauled at how Shane spoke to his mother. I continued to be shocked that Jeana who is my favorite housewife would justify it by saying that he learned it from her husband who suffered from some brain injury. I don't give a rats ass who he learned it from - he needs to stop. To condone and provide an excuse for your son's inexcusable behaviour to you is simply not acceptible on any level. He's a selfish, self-absorbed ass who needs to grow up. And... his girlfriend sat there and said nothing either - shame on her. The fact that it's been suggested Jeana comes from an abused relationship was confirmed to me by the way she allows Shane to speak to her. She has some work to do on why she allows this disrespect from anyone let alone her own son. Jeana, you rock girl and you deserve nothing but the very best from life and the people you have in your life.

You were my favorite! You were always real! I am a lot like you. I love unconditionally and I give until there is not much left to give. My husband is an economist. He lost his job and can find nothing anywhere. Times are tough no matter who you are or where you live. God Bless YOU! Thanks for keeping it real!


I really miss you and hope you return to the show. I think you are a very classy and inspirational woman. You and Gretchen are my 2 very women. I think you are both real and authentic. Hope you to see you soon.

So how would I describe you:

Take care. Best of luck to you.


Wow! Jeana's sons are so terribly behaved as grown men that it is disgusting. The episode where she goes to watch the oldest son play baseball and then goes out to dinner with him, is so ridiculously frustrating to watch. It is a shame that he grew up thinking it is acceptable to disrespect his mother, whether in front of other people or alone. I feel terribly sorry for any woman that settles to be treated that way.

Those boys should be ashamed of the way they treat her.

I live in Scotland and Series 5 has just started here. It will not be the same without Jeana, she was the 'normal' one of the bunch. Such a loving, vivacious woman who carries compassion for all around her. Its obvious that's the case after reading this, as who else would be compassionate enough to forgive and forget the way she's been treated by Vicki?? What a hound of a woman she is! Jeana is supposed to be her 'friend' yet she tells the nation that she asked to borrow a little from her. Thats not what friends do, thats what evil twisted people do. As for Tamra, everyone is exactly right about her, she is the most jealous person that ever walked the earth, she will turn on everyone eventually, when Vicki eventually has a bust up with her, she will leave the show with her tail between her legs, in (I don't know how you say it in American) the 'huff'. She wants her own way, she is NOT the hottest housewife thats GRETCHENS title and thats what gets to Tamra the most, jealous little pip squeak she is. Lynne is a lovely, genuine woman and is currently going through 'teenage daughter' years, where (if its all girls in the family) they walk all over their mothers. dont worry Lynne that will change once they are around 22yo! Tammy was lovely too and Lauri especially because she gave insight into 'real' life. Real problems with kids and finances, it would be nice if she came back but she has another life now and good luck to her. I didn't get Quinn really and can only imagine that something came to light that the producers didn't want the public getting wind of, this will be why no one has explained her 'disappearance' from the show. As for Jeanas children, Colton and Kara could not love their mother more, Shane is probably a little 'misguided' in having witnessed the way Matt has talked to his mother for so long but they are far from being a disfunctional family! Come to Scotland, get a taste of 'real life' we are not so pre-occupied with the political correctness that has sent Americans MAD! and we are ALL like Jeana and her family!!!


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