'Real Housewives': Will wonky Washington again have reality-TV viewers tuning out?

Possibly one of the worst-kept secrets in the reality TV world, the cable network Bravo announces the cast for the Washington installment of its "Real Housewives" franchise and its premiere date, Thursday, Aug. 5 at 9 p.m. ET. The Reliable Source's Amy Argetsinger previews the cast.
By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here Come the Salahis!

Bravo will find out whether its "Real Housewives" franchise can succeed where MTV's "Real World" failed when our favorite state dinner crasher, Michaele Salahi, makes her debut on Thursday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m.

Bravo will officially announce the start date for "The Real Housewives of D.C." on Tuesday.

Michaele's supporting cast includes: Mary Schmidt Amons, a "true Washingtonian and granddaughter of radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey," according to Bravo; Lynda Erkiletian, who is "mother hen and owner of D.C.'s top modeling agency"; Catherine Ommanney, a "feisty Brit" who is "married to a White House photographer"; and Stacie Scott Turner, a "Harvard grad" and "active political fund raiser."

In its announcement, Bravo says the latest edition of its hit franchise "is set to take on the Hill," with women who are "connected D.C. power players," and that the show will reflect "D.C. almost as its own character in the series."

"I'm really interested in Beltway society and the protocol that exists there," Andy Cohen, Bravo senior vice president of original programming, told The TV Column. "Within that protocol, money doesn't necessarily buy you power -- it's your proximity to political power that is a measure of your social status. That is one of the main themes of this series."

He divulged his fantasy: "Was the idea of two housewives fighting over politics an incredibly juicy notion? Absolutely! Does it happen on this series? Absolutely, and in the first episode. That thrills me."

Cohen's enthusiasm is similar to that of MTV execs when that network was debuting "Real World: D.C." back in December.

That edition proved to be historic for the extremely long-running reality series franchise.

Historically bad.

The finale attracted only about 1 million viewers -- the smallest finale audience in the show's 23-edition history. The three least-watched episodes ever in "Real World" history came out of the Washington series. The prevailing rap: the Washington "Real World" flopped because the kind of person who loves "Real World" is the kind of person who wants to see hot-tub make-out sessions and dramatic runs to the ER to treat a bad case of alcohol poisoning. Turns out, that is also the kind of person who flees in horror from a show whose description includes the words: "Washington, D.C."

And now, on Aug. 5, Bravo will find out whether the capital of the free world and a show that is a ratings magnet for those who love mother-daughter plastic surgery bonding trips, restaurant table-flipping rages, and friends accusing each other of being vampires are also mutually exclusive.

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