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You don't have to be a Kardashian to cash in on reality TV

October 19, 2011 |  4:24 pm

Bethenny Frankel is among reality TV stars who profit big from endorsements

The Kardashian family is raking in a reported $65 million annually, but you don't have to be reality TV royalty to make big money from a stint on unscripted television. The list of second-, third- and fourth-tier reality show participants signing lucrative endorsement deals keeps growing.

"There's an insatiable appetite out there for new stars. That might even extend to the third banana on a truTV show, who all of a sudden has a big talent agency repping him," said David Reeder, vice president at GreenLight, a consultancy that marries brands with famous faces.

Not everyone can be as lucky as "Dirty Jobs' " Mike Rowe, who has been the rugged face of Ford trucks, Lee jeans and Viva, or Bethenny Frankel, who sold her Skinnygirl cocktails -- introduced to the public during her years on "Real Housewives of New York City" -- for a large, undisclosed sum this year. (Forbes estimates Frankel pulled in at least $64 million this year alone.)

But even a minor star from a hit on the E! network could pull in as much as $30,000 for working the room at a Las Vegas club opening, as could a lesser-known "Real Housewives" cast member for selling exclusive photos to a supermarket tabloid.

For more, read this Calendar feature story on the economics of reality star endorsements.


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Photo: Bethenny Frankel. Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times