In all of the coverage of Real Housewives of DC cast members and uninvited White House guests Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the media points out that they are prospective cast members, and Bravo says they haven’t yet finalized the cast. But who the hell is anyone kidding: they’re on the show.
AP TV columnist Frazier Moore–who I’m fond of pointing out wrote in July of 2000 that reality TV was a “sputtering” trend (really!)–wrote in a column today, “Could be, she’s done the near-impossible in reality TV: crossed the line from attention-getter on a grand scale, to just not worth the trouble.”
Worth the trouble? Michaele is worth far more than that. Barring prosecution or prison or something com, Bravo will keep them on the show. How could they not? All of this publicity? And please: There’s no way producers for a low-rent cable reality show would just follow people with camera crews for weeks and months in the middle of a recession unless they’re going to be on the show. Of course, they could figure out they’re not working and edit them out or stop filming, but a meteor could also hit them while they’re being filmed.
Ultimately, this non-finalized cast nonsense seems to be a convenient way for Bravo to stand just to the side of the controversy, far away so they don’t get hit but close enough to get the benefits.
Meanwhile, the Salahis appeared on the Today Show this morning and said not much at all, except to reiterate that despite not being on the guest list, they were invited, and to say that “Our lives have been destroyed, everything we’ve worked for … For me, 44 years, just destroyed,” as Michaele said. Despite reports that they wanted to be paid to talk to the press, both they and NBC said didn’t get cash to be interviewed.
Perhaps the most notable part of Matt Lauer’s interview was that he totally forgot to mention that they’re cast members on The Real Housewives of DC–or being considered for it, as everyone likes to say, as if Bravo isn’t salivating over this publicity. While NBC didn’t disclose the connection–Bravo is owned by NBC Universal–NBC News told The New York Times, Bravo had nothing to do with this booking, they were not involved at all. That the Salahis chose to go on the number-one-rated morning show should not come as a surprise.” Bravo confirmed that.
However, they may have appeared there for another reason: corporate synergy. Citing “a booker at a rival network,” Gawker reports that “an NBC staffer has admitted that Bravo prevented the Salahis from giving their initial exclusive interview to anyone other than NBC News, which is under the same NBC Universal corporate umbrella as Bravo.”
While I don’t doubt that Bravo might require them to appear on NBC News, Gawker cites part of another season’s contract as evidence, and I think they’re misreading the contract. The quoted section, which is part of the New Jersey cast members’ contract [PDF], has a clause about agreeing to do press, but Gawker focuses on the clause about appearing on other “unscripted, reality-based programs,” for which there is a one-year “reality hold.” That’s about being on another reality series, not on a news program.
Usually, media appearances for a certain period of time have to be approved by publicists, because who knows what calamity would befall a network if one of their stars embarrassed themselves not just on the network, but in the press.