Will the 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' please stand up?
The Bravo series, known for table-flipping, backstabbing and money-grubbing, is currently filming "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," the sixth incarnation of the hit docu-drama. Add name-dropping and jet-setting to the list of things on tap.
The show, shaping up to be a "Real-Housewives"-meets-"Lives-of-the-Rich-and-Famous," will feature the cast flying in a Gulfstream private jet to hit the Palms Casino in Las Vegas and again for a Broadway premiere. They do the same to sit in floor seats at a Sacramento Kings game. They'll be playing in a charity poker tournament, with personal tips from pro player Annie Duke, and having dinner at a $100-million Beverly Hills mansion.
The Beverly Hills incarnation, which doesn't yet have an official air date but may debut in late fall or early 2011, has been shooting on Los Angeles' tony Westside and in other cities for more than two months. Next up: a lavish cocktail and dinner party aboard a 120-foot yacht off Marina del Rey during another month of filming.
Bravo executives, who've long been cagey about "Housewives'" casts and details, are sticking to their guns about not commenting on shows in production. Evolution Media, the producers of the flagship "The Real Housewives of Orange County," is producing the Beverly Hills version.
Some of the activities captured for the Beverly Hills season are based on the insider access of its uber-wealthy, Hollywood-saturated cast members. For instance, the crew attends the opening of "La Cage Aux Folles" in New York. The revival stars Kelsey Grammer, whose wife, Camille, is part of the "Housewives" cast.
The former Playboy model is the most recognizable name in the group, though she's perhaps as well known these days for her public education campaign about irritable bowel syndrome as for her Emmy-winning husband. The couple have two children by surrogate mothers because of Camille's health issues.
Another cast member, Adrienne Maloof-Nassif, provided the entree for the group to the Palms Casino and the Sacramento Kings. Her family owns both. (She's married to Dr. Paul Nassif, a cosmetic surgeon who's been featured on E!'s "Dr. 90210," but there's no word on whether that connection comes in handy during the show.)
Other cast members, which Bravo will not confirm but people with knowledge of the production did, include: Kim and Kyle Richards, former child actors who are the younger sisters of Kathy Hilton and aunts to Paris and Nicky.
Kyle Richards, married with four daughters, is no stranger to the camera, having worked in TV starting in the '70s on shows like "Little House on the Prairie" and "Fantasy Island." Her acting credits list the original "Escape to Witch Mountain," John Carpenter's cult classic version of "Halloween" and the 2006 frat boy comedy, "Pledge This!" starring her niece, Paris.
Kim Richards, a divorced mom of four, broke into the entertainment business on family sitcom "Nanny and the Professor," and had parts in TV shows ranging from "ABC Afterschool Specials" and "Diff'rent Strokes" to "Chips" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" as well as a starring role in "Escape to Witch Mountain." She has some reality TV experience, too, appearing in her niece's Fox series, "The Simple Life."
Lisa Vanderpump, a British expat with three children, owns swanky a Beverly Hills eatery, Villa Blanca, with her entrepreneur husband Ken Todd.
And the sixth housewife is Taylor Armstrong, a Kansas native who at 37 is the youngest of the group. The mother of a young daughter, she's married to Russell Armstrong, a Beverly Hills venture capitalist, and is best friends with Maloof-Nasif.
She's a longtime supporter of the 1736 Family Crisis Center, which put the cast in a charity poker tournament with poker pro Annie Duke to raise money for the Los Angeles women's and children's shelter. Armstrong, who worked in sales for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, founded a management consulting company called eImplement Inc.
Since the Orange County version launched in 2006, the "Real Housewives" series has expanded to include New York, Atlanta and New Jersey. It's officially a franchise now, with Washington, D.C., hitting the network this summer. The series' stock in trade has been controversy (and cat fights), but none has quite compared with the D.C. "party crashers" Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who caused a security panic in November when they attended a White House state dinner (allegedly uninvited). The fallout included a federal investigation and the eventual resignation of White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. The couple aren't being prosecuted, which saved Bravo the trouble of editing them out of the footage. They're expected to appear prominently in the D.C. season.
The Beverly Hills crew hasn't been up to that kind of mischief, at least not yet, and so far the relationships between the women, some of whom didn't know each other before filming began, reportedly haven't been too strained. But there's still another month to go -- plenty of time for the claws to come out and for editing to work its magic.
-- T.L. StanleyPhoto, from left to right: Beverly Hills housewives Lisa Vanderpump, Kim Richards, Kyle Richards and Taylor Armstrong attend the April opening of "La Cage Aux Folles" in New York. Credit: Charles Eshelman / Getty Images