Real Housewives star reveals behind-the-scene details

Fired The Real Housewives of New York City cast member Alex McCord has been revealing behind-the-scenes details about the production of the show online, apparently irritating Bravo enough for them to send a letter to Alex about the videos she produces.

Alex only watches the show on TV now, but she (and/or Simon) has been recording her reactions for the gossip web site Rumorfix. I’ll be honest: When they announced she’d be doing this, I ignored it, because it’s rare that a reality star offers any perspective that is valuable or worth time.

And yes, a lot of what Alex does is recap the show, or say gossipy things about the cast members, and that’s uninteresting. Her recap of last week’s episode, for example, offers virtually no insight. Her first video was filmed outside with planes flying overhead.

But by her episode 3 video, she picked it up, starting to reveal behind-the-scenes details and secrets. Some of it is clearly what she learned about how to be an effective cast member (although she was fired), and about common mistakes people make while they’re in front of cameras, but the most interesting things to me are about the show’s production.

For example, Alex said that “if a trip is happening by the show, and it’s not season one, it is put together by the producers.” That’s been obvious but never really confirmed, especially that producers pay for everything. Alex said evidence of the latter is actually in each episode: “Look at the credits. If you see ‘promotional consideration provided by’ … that means [the trip] was provided by the producers.” Alex also called out the producers (“not good for you”) for “sloppy editing” with their blurring of a painting of LuAnn in LuAnn’s house that has been cleared for broadcast in past season.

Even more surprising, in her comments on the London trip episode, Alex revealed that Housewives producers also pay for things in stores when the women go shopping. She notes that, on their London shopping trip, the women “didn’t buy anything. Why? Because the producers weren’t paying.” If producers set up a trip, Alex said, they “pay, or you, the cast, negotiate with the store separately.”

In one video, Alex elaborated on something she mentioned in passing earlier: the fact that producers pay for car service. Alex said producers will purposefully delay those hired cars to piss off the cast members and create drama. Talking about “the number-one way to annoy a reality tv cast member: make them wait,” Alex said, “a lot of times, producers can tweak that” and “can make the cars late.”

She also said that scenes filmed in restaurants are often done at “10 a.m. or 5 p.m., or a time when there are not a lot of people there,” which means there are fewer people to sign releases, plus the producers can “control the audio” and environment more than they would otherwise.

We know that, especially on these shows, producers set up interaction, but interestingly, Alex has also revealed that, when they set up situations for the cast members to interact in, “producers might have told people different things about why they were meeting.” That can obviously lead to drama.

Interviews, Alex said, are “usually filmed once a month, throughout filming,” although the “last few interviews are often filmed” after the show starts airing. That suggests to me says that the cast members, if they’re savvy, can use those interviews to adjust how they’re being perceived. In another video, Alex defends LuAnn by saying that on the show, “you have to get all your own clothes” so “many women on reality TV … will work with designers to borrow and return clothes.”

While none of these details are earth-shattering, these sorts of revelations led to “a strong-worded letter from executives at the TV network,” The New York Daily News reported. Alex told the paper that the letter was in response to one her agent sent Bravo about plans to air a “top 20 reunion moments” compilation episode that wasn’t covered in their contracts. Alex said, “The whole exchange seemed as much about avoiding the ‘Top 20′ shows issue as shutting down [the Rumor Fix videos],” especially since she’d been doing them for six weeks when she received the letter. And, of course, she’s still producing them.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.