The Salahis partied at White House, are now confirmed for 'Real Housewives of D.C.'
Statuesque blond model Michaele Salahi and her husband, Tareq, will be part of the Bravo series "The Real Housewives of D.C." when it launches Aug. 5, but not because they allegedly gate crashed the White House.
The couple, finally confirmed as part of the cast, was already embedded in the series well before showing up at a state dinner last year, Bravo executives said Tuesday. (The Salahis contend they were invited; state and federal investigations have yet to put their stamp on that explanation or issue any reprisals.)
Bravo had been cagey on the subject of the Salahis, as is its practice with "Housewives" news. But with the official announcement Tuesday of all five cast members and an Andy Cohen column on the Huffington Post, it is backing up what the couple has said since the spring.
The lead-up to the alleged gate crashing, by the way, will be part of the show, focusing on the Salahis as they primp for the special night. What happened inside the White House gates, where "Housewives" producers weren't credentialed, will not.
The series, part of the well-watched franchise that includes Orange County, New York, New Jersey and Atlanta, revolves this season around "connected D.C. power players," the network says. Some media and D.C. insiders have taken issue with that characterization, saying that there's no one in government or politics in the cast and that most are affluent suburbanites with tenuous links to the power elite.
In addition to the Salahis, those navigating the "unwritten social rules of the Beltway" include Mary Schmidt Amons, granddaughter of the late radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey; Lynda Erkiletian, owner of a D.C. modeling agency; Brit expat Catherine Ommanney, who's married to a Newsweek photojournalist; and Stacie Scott Turner, a political fundraiser and philanthropist.
As is often the case in the "Housewives" series, some of the cast members didn't know one another before filming. (So much for everyone being besties.) The network, according to its press materials, is using the women to "explore the nexus of politics, society and even race, as well as how the proximity to political power dictates where one fits within Beltway society." Or to zero in on some monied backstabbing and catfighting in another locale. Take your pick.
Bravo's Cohen, senior vice president of original programming and development and an on-air host of "Housewives" specials, answered the criticism that the network somehow influenced the couple's actions:
"The fact is that by November we had been shooting the series with Michaele and the other women for months," he wrote on HuffPo. "In fact, we were a few weeks away from wrapping photography on the series. Any idea that attending the State Dinner was an audition to cement participation in the show is preposterous."
Bravo learned of the gate crashing allegations the next day, Cohen said.
The network's not averse to showing uninvited party guests, though, saying it will feature unnamed cast members at the Congressional Black Caucus gala, where they weren't on the list. Chances are that didn't involve the Secret Service, so the security threat level might've been relatively low. Entertainment level? Still to be determined.
-- T.L. Stanley
Photo: Tareq and Michaele Salahi hosting the America's Polo Cup Championships in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press