Reality TV, then what?

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Isn't it about time for the "Real Housewives of D.C." to be cashing in?

After all, reality-TV salaries don't nearly cover the spiritual cost of opening your life to the cameras, and stars of the other Bravo franchises have all attempted to use their newfound fame to try to sell us something.

But four months after the first D.C. season ended - and there's no sign on the horizon of a second season - we've yet to see a best-selling diet book or cheesy dance-pop single out of our Washington crew.

Cat Ommanney, the sharp-tongued British import who was arguably the series' breakout star, is now promoting a memoir - the tale of her chaotic years pre-"Housewives," when a torrid affair ended her first marriage and catapulted her into a hard-partying, jet-set life. (And yes, she dishes about her brief '06 canoodle with Prince Harry - coyly referred to only as "a very handsome young Royal" - that made her short-term tabloid bait.)

But despite the usual trappings of a glamorous book launch - a party next week at stylist Ted Gibson's N.Y.C. salon, to be followed by another fete here - Ommanney's book, titled "Inbox Full," is self-published.

The author told us (via phone from England, visiting with her young daughters) that she had been offered a book deal but that the publisher wanted to "change my voice. . . . There were parts of my diary they wanted to fill in, and they used expressions I would never say."

So she's doing it herself, and, despite the dubious track record of self-publishing, she's optimistic. "You get far more royalties" this way. "More people are buying online than anywhere else."

Her infamous co-stars Tareq and Michaele Salahi signed with a celebrity-booking firm, a common step for other reality stars, but we've seen less of that with the D.C. 'Wives. Ommanney acknowledged that she's done "a couple" of paid appearances in nightclubs, "but I don't have anyone helping me, no publicist."

There appear to be a few other projects in the "Housewives" pipeline: Stacie Turner is working on a book about finding her birth parents - a key plotline on the show - and scene-stealing Paul Wharton is working on a reality pilot of his own. Fellow 'Wives Mary Amons and Lynda Erkiletian have focused quietly on charitable causes and business since the first season ended.

And what about a second season? "Housewives" series set in other cities have typically rushed a second season onto the air within a year of the first. But Bravo has remained officially mum on the subject of the D.C. show, and there's been no sign of any new episodes shooting yet.

Ommanney believes she'll be returning to your TV screen. "The long gap has made people think there won't be one, but I'm quite confident that there will be a second season," she said. Even without another Salahis-at-the-White House saga to probe? "It will show much more interesting story lines," she said.


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