'The Real Housewives' third season to debut November 6, replace Jo
By Steve Rogers and Christopher Rocchio, 10/10/2007
Bravo has announced the third season of The Real Housewives of Orange County, a docu-soap reality series that follows a group of real-life "desperate" housewives who live in a wealthy Southern California gated community, will premiere on Tuesday, November 6 at 10PM ET/PT.
Missing from the third season will be Jo De La Rosa, a 26-year-old unmarried original The Real Housewives "housewife." Earlier this year, De La Rosa and Slade Smiley, De La Rosa's on-again/off-again boyfriend and former fiance, were at the center of the public disclosure of behind-the-scenes squabbles between the cast and Bravo.
In early March -- shortly before the broadcast of the show's second-season finale -- The Los Angeles Times published a report in which several of The Real Housewives' cast members voiced their frustration about their Bravo relationship and the endorsement, publicity and media appearance restrictions the network had contractually placed upon them.
De La Rosa and Keogh were the only housewives willing to participate in on-the-record non-Bravo sanctioned interviews with The Times, however Smiley, the person who originally suggested De La Rosa participate in The Real Housewives, also participated and served as the most vocal critic of the network's relationship with the cast.
According to Smiley, while The Real Housewives' cast members had been getting compensated for their participation in the show, Bravo's restrictions had been hampering the cast's ability to exploit their newfound television fame for additional financial gain.
"All of us made it happen," Smiley told The Times. "I won't let my success be handled by someone else."
Part of Smiley's success plan apparently included using the show as a platform to launch a singing career for De La Rosa, a student and loan officer. Although the first part of Smiley's plan worked -- The Real Housewives' second season included footage of De La Rosa recording a demo song that led to her signing a record contract with immergent Records in late March -- the next part hit a bump when Bravo publicists reportedly called to "reprimand" him after the two attempted to promote De La Rosa's singing career at various events.
"They hate the fact we've figured how to take exposure from the show and turn it into something," Smiley told The Times at the time. "We're about making personal relationships in the industry. It comes across when we meet people. We're not hungry for it. We're not pushing too hard."
"[Unlike the network's other reality shows,] nobody at Coto de Caza needs anything from Bravo," Smiley told The Times. "The other shows are competitive in their nature. People trying to make something of their lives. We're already there."
At the time, De La Rosa told The Times that Bravo had been "very supportive" of her efforts to launch a singing career.
Smiley wasn't the only The Real Housewives cast member to express displeasure with Bravo. Keough told The Times she and three of her fellow cast members established an online shopping center to fulfill requests for the clothing and jewelry they wear on the show.
"We asked Bravo to partner, and they weren't interested," she told The Times. "They threatened to sue if we didn't remove all pictures of two or more of us together from the website. They didn't want us to mention Bravo in any of our ads or to link with us."
According to Smiley's The Times interview, each cast member is contractually restricted from appearing in unsanctioned press or advertising with any other cast member, nor are they allowed to use Bravo's name or logo.
At the time, Bravo declined to comment on the cast's activities. "Bravo doesn't discuss the terms of its talent contracts, which are standard for the industry," a network spokesperson told The Times. "The talent contracts are all designed to protect the confidentiality of the plot development."
Two weeks after The Times' March report was published, Bravo released a brief press release that announced it was beginning casting calls for Calabasas and Orange County women that were interested in starring in "new editions" of its "The Real Housewives franchise." However according to a production company webpage that the vaguely-worded release directed interested applicants to, the purpose of The Real Housewivescasting calls was to find "5 fabulous families to be featured in the third season of the series."
At the time, Bravo did not respond to multiple Reality TV World requests for additional clarification about the March "new editions" announcement. The network also did not respond to a new Tuesday message requesting the current status of its "new editions" plans.
Three months after The Times report, Bravo announced it was changing its official name to Bravo Media and launching several new divisions, including an alliance with Pangea Management Group, the talent management division of RDF USA, a reality television production company. According to the Bravo's June announcement, Pangea will now "help manage the network's roster of new talent from Bravo's hit franchise series including future seasons of Top Chef, [The] Real Housewives, Work Out, Top Design, Shear Genius, among others."
The release of De La Rosa's debut album "Just Jo" -- which immergent Records had originally intended to coincide with The Real Housewives' third-season fall premiere -- has since been pushed back to early 2008, according to an early September post on her MySpace blog.
Tamra Barney, a 39-year-old wife and mother of four who is trying to launch her career as a real-estate agent, will replace De La Rosa and join the cast of housewives for the show's third edition.
The Real Housewives' third season apparently won't be short on drama, as Waring is preparing to wed her fiance George Peterson (much to the dismay of her son Josh); Knickerbocker and her children are struggling with the April death of Louis Knickerbocker, her ex-husband and their father; while Gunvalson attempts to maintain control over her kids through the use of money.
"As we return to Orange County for our third season, we welcome a new housewife, celebrate a wedding and continue to see drama on every corner," said Frances Berwick, Bravo's executive vice president of programming and production. "The women tackle more complicated issues than ever as they attempt to stay at the top of their game while juggling family, career and friends."
The Real Housewives of Orange County is produced by Evolution Film & Tape Inc., with Douglas Ross, Gregory Stewart and Kathleen French serving as executive producers. Series creator Scott Dunlop also serves as executive producer.