For any of you out there in TV land still longing for the days when MTV used to play music and Bravo used to be an alternative for when PBS had another telethon on, it's probably time for you to give up the dream and live in the now. On Tuesday, Bravo announced its lineup of new and returning shows, and with the exception of Inside the Actor's Studio — which is coming back for a 19th season — it's pretty much what we've come to expect from the network: lots and lots of reality programming.
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In addition to the network's gold standard of reality shows like Top Chef (coming back for a Season 11) and its spin-off Top Chef Masters (entering its fifth season), Bravo is also bringing back Andy Cohen's inexplicable talk show Watch What Happens Live (we demand more Meryl Streep in Season 10!).
In addition to its, er, classier programming, there's also more Flipping Out, Tabatha Takes Over, Million Dollar Listing, Chef Roble & Co, Vanderpump Rules, Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis, and Don't Be Tardy on the horizon. And, of course, the various Real Housewives franchises will be back, including The Real Housewives of New Jersey (Season 5), The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Season 4), The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Season 6) and The Real Housewives of New York (Season 6). That can only mean one thing... more Brian Moylan recaps! Huzzah!
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As far as new and in development series from Bravo that look to speak to the common man, well, there's something tentatively called Rich People's Problems and Ivy League Confidential... so you can pretty much guess what's in store. For a list of all the new reality programs, including a Most Eligible Dallas spin-off called Courtney Loves Dallas and Kandi Burruss' own The Kandi Shop, click here.
But, hey fellow old-timers, you'll be happy to know there's a few scripted shows coming to the network, too. The Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce, Heiresses, and High and Low should provide a much-needed break from the reality overload.
[Photo credit: Matthias Clamer/Bravo]
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For anyone who has ever watched an episode of any of the Real Housewives franchise, they know that the program is supposed to be about rich ladies, all of their things, and how they attain wealth. Well, those things...and throwing drinks at anyone who dares call you phony. Sure, some of these fake-titted blondes are dealing with bankruptcy, unemployment, and spouses who can't pay child support, but they still do it from the inside of their onyx McMansions, hiding the moral and financial poverty behind a facade of bling. So what happens when you have the realest Real Housewife of all? And what happens when she loses everything, including the biggest house in America?
That's the question that director Lauren Greenfield asks in her new documentary The Queen of Versailles. The movie follows Jackie Siegel and her husband David Siegel, owner of Westgate, who made his fortune selling time shares mostly to working class and middle class families, as they build the largest single home in America. When we first meet Jackie she's exactly out of Real Housewives central casting: she likes small dogs, dresses her twins in matching outfits, and has an unhealthy penchant for low-cut tops and animal prints. She has eight children with Siegel and the two of them were building a 90,000 square foot replication of the palace at Versailles for their family outside Orlando. It is all marble, antiques, taxidermy, and the sort of things that even a Real Housewife might find gaudy. But at the center of it all is Jackie, who Greenfield first met at a party in Miami when she was shooting Donatella Versace. "Jackie is a charismatic character," Greenfield says of the woman from blue collar upstate New York who worked as a model and was Mrs. Florida before marrying Siegel. "In a way, she’s full of contradictions, even though she lives this kind of fantasy life of jets and castles, and she also has a kind of down-to-earth quality and a generosity of spirit and an openness, and was willing to share her life." The funny thing is, as Jackie and David shared their lives with the camera starting in 2008, when America was still riding high on the real estate bubble, their lives started to change. When the economy crashed, mostly due to junk mortgages, it turns out that David's company was running mostly on junk mortgages. As their fortunes decreased, Versailles was put on the market half-finished and the once flush couple had to struggle with life without the countless maids, nannies, and staff members. Their once glitzy house was now covered in dog turds and Jackie tells the camera that she never would have had so many children if she didn't think she'd have the staff to care for them all. For any Real Housewives fan, it seems like we're finally getting our revenge and the rich are getting their due. But Greenfield never intended the movie to be akin to reality television. "I don't really watch much TV," she says. "I’m really interested in our cultural obsession with wealth, and I put reality TV into that category. I do watch a lot of Keeping Up with the Kardashians at the gym, and I’m fascinated by the way we sensationalize and idealize wealth. In a way, that is one of the reasons I wanted to start [this movie], to show wealth in a different way, to show it in a real way, in cinema verity way, not a constructed 'Isn’t life wonderful?' totally fake way." The film is going to get a chance to shed some light on that fake world of perceived wealth. Bravo, the home of the Real Housewives and other big-house-glorifying shows like Million Dollar Listing, has purchased the TV rights to air Queen of Versailles. "I think it’s so great," Greenfield says about the acquisition. "It’s not preaching to the converted in the art house, it’s regular people who love watching these people all the time, this kind of person, and then to get to peel back the onion and see a real life. For me, it’s really about what the implications of our obsession with wealth and consumerism are. And I think that part of the reason we’re so interested in more and more stuff is because of the influence of popular culture, and I put reality TV and advertising in that group." But it's not all champagne riches and caviar dreams for Greenfield. She, Bravo, Magnolia Pictures, and others are facing a lawsuit from David Siegel himself, who doesn't like the way the movie ends. Greenfield says he wants it to end with him being triumphant and returning back to his riches. Instead, it ends with his company facing bankruptcy, his current house in disarray, and his dream house half-built and decaying, his dream of seeing the fireworks at Disney World through his window nothing but a fantasy that the audience sees, but he never will. It's like the tragedy that is lurking below the surface of every episode of Real Housewives, but it's a tragedy that Greenfield brings right up to the surface and makes it relatable for the audience, no matter how big their house. If it says anything about where Jackie stands, she's helping Greenfield promote the movie and just appeared on the Today show to get people out to the theater this weekend. Oh, and she's interested in being in Real Housewives. I'd expect nothing less. Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan [Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures] More: Sundance 2012: 'Queen of Versailles' Is the Ultimate 'Real Housewives' Tale Summer Movie Alternatives: It's Not Just Comic Book Action Blockbusters 'Real Housewives of New York' Recap: Fake Leg Fall Down
Episode 1. The Ultimate Luxury Playground
(AIR DATE 06/25/2014)
The real estate market in Miami is on fire. In this series premiere, Chad is looking to stake his claim in the exclusive neighborhood of Palm Island. Chris brushes up on his Russian as he works from his bathtub to sell a 6-million dollar penthouse. Meanwhile, Sam lands the biggest listing of her career, but is she already in over her head?
Episode 2. Co-listers Can't Be Choosers
(AIR DATE 07/02/2014)
Chris charms his way into a co-listing at a one-of-a-kind penthouse in Boca Raton. Chad attempts to recover from a cancelled open house and complete a sale on his exclusive Palm Island listing, while Sam faces a tough decision as the deadline to sell her listing quickly approaches.
Episode 3. Trouble in Paradise
(AIR DATE 07/09/2014)
After losing her penthouse listing, Sam heads back home to Ft. Lauderdale to help a picky buyer and her pet pit-bull find the perfect waterfront home. Chris' co-listing takes an unexpected turn that could ruin a potential deal. And while Chad is able to get a contract on his new listing in a week, an unexpected complication could cancel his premature celebration.
Episode 4. Deals, Discounts and Potential Disaster
(AIR DATE 07/16/2014)
Chris has a young buyer in town with an $8 million dollar budget and a significant list of requirements to go with it. Sam struggles with balance as she works on a new high-end listing while dealing with a personal loss. Meanwhile, Chad lists a Miami real estate legend's property, but things get heated when he clashes with Sam at the open house.
Episode 5. Relationship Negotiation
(AIR DATE 07/23/2014)
Chad tries to find a way to work with his co-listing agent who is not giving him full control. Chris helps out a friend looking to sell her penthouse after a breakup, and ends up negotiating for more than he expected. Meanwhile, Sam finally gets an offer on the bachelor pad she has listed, but will it be enough to please her client.
Episode 6. Three's a Crowd
(AIR DATE 07/30/2014)
Chris, Chad, and Sam find themselves all competing for a monumental listing at a new development, which brings two of the agents surprisingly close together. When things don't go Sam's way, she finds herself with a tough client who wants to move to Fort Lauderdale and has a list of demands that might be unrealistic for his budget - including touring homes by boat!
Episode 7. Going Big
(AIR DATE 08/06/2014)
Chad's future is about to change in more ways than one. His biggest client is in town and ready to go on a $20 million spending spree, while a special night out with Jen could be the most important moment of his life. Sam learns her lesson about taking over-priced listings when she agrees to work with a pair of young brothers to list their party pad. Chris takes on new clients looking to sell their condo in Brickell for an unrealistic price.
Episode 8. Past, Present, Future
(AIR DATE 08/13/2014)
Chad picks up right where he left off with his proposal to Jen, and still has $9 million dollars worth of property to purchase for his biggest client. Sam goes after her first big listing in South Beach and also contemplates joining a big firm versus keeping her own business. Meanwhile, Chris finds himself with a chance to wrap up some unfinished business at his former mega listing in Boca Raton.