White House crashers venture into TV
The infamous Salahi couple, who gatecrashed President Barack Obama's first state dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have cruised into a TV show on Washington's glitterati.Updated: Jun 15, 2010 12:36 IST
The Real Housewives of DC will be debuting on Thursday Aug 5 at 9 p.m. with Washington's favourite White House state dinner crasher Michaele Salahi on board as a "real housewife", the show's producers Bravo announced Monday.
Michaele and husband Tareq Salahi's crashing of Obama's dinner party would be re-enacted near the very end of the first season of the show, said Andy Cohen, senior vice president, original programming and development, Bravo.
Michaele, Bravo noted modestly, became the focus of media attention following the White House state dinner last November. She's also described as a "model" and "founder of DC's America's Polo Cup".
Bravo said The Real Housewives franchise presents "a slice of life amongst affluent, educated women, some raising kids, some driving careers, all interacting with friends and family as determined by the unwritten social rules of the Beltway (as Washington metropolitan area is called)."
"These connected DC power players all have their pulse on the most important cultural events, political galas, gallery openings, and fundraisers in Washington society."
"The Real Housewives of DC" went into production shortly after the election and inauguration of Obama. "We wanted to dive into the Beltway subculture as it underwent an historic shift," said Cohen.
"The great advantage to a docu-series, rather than a scripted drama or comedy, is the unexpected. The axiom 'truth is stranger than fiction' reigns supreme at Bravo," he said in a piece in "The Hill" newspaper focusing on congressional politics and the presidency.
"But therein lies the rub: you can't predict or prepare for the unknown. And that was the case in November, when late in our production cycle Michaele Salahi told producers that she and her husband Tareq had been invited to the White House State Dinner," Cohen said.
The production crew filmed the Salahis' preparation and arrival at the White House gate, but left as the crew wasn't credentialed for the dinner.
"We learned the following day - as did everyone else, including the other DC Housewives - of the alleged 'gatecrashing' incident," Cohen claimed.
"At the core of the reaction was the question of whether or not the Salahis had been invited. But one of the by-products of the aftermath was continued false reporting that somehow the Salahis had used the State Dinner as a 'stunt' to be cast on the show."
"The fact is that by November we had been shooting the series with Michaele and the other women for months. In fact, we were a few weeks away from wrapping photography on the series," Cohen said suggesting that "any idea that attending the State Dinner was an audition to cement participation in the show is preposterous".
"It is the job of the legal system to decide if and how the Salahis may have broken the law. But our decision to include them in the series speaks to a very basic programming mandate, which is to present real people as they exist within their universe," he said in defence of the Bravo decision.
"We kept Michaele in the show because she has a compelling life story, distinct relationships with the other women, and most especially because she represents a very real example of the inextricably intertwined worlds of political connections with social hierarchy," Cohen said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
First Published: Jun 15, 2010 12:06 IST