Last week it looked like The Real Housewives of New York City could get shut down for good when all six of the cast members refused to sign their contracts. Shooting for the series was supposed to commence last Wednesday (according to several news outlets), but was delayed when negotiations stalled.
Thank goodness it might not be over. According to Deadline, RHONY ladies Carole Radziwill, Ramona Singer, LuAnn de Lesseps, Heather Thomson, Aviva Drescher and Sonja Morgan all received modest pay increases, though how “modest” that money is definitely on a case-by-case basis; Ramona Singer made $500,000 last season and was holding out for a million, while a source close to the negotiations told The New York Observer that The New York Post’s quoted “average” payout for a housewife–$65,000–was “in the ballpark” of what was being offered this time around.
According to an industry insider, however, none of the ladies have officially signed their contracts yet, so don’t be jumping for joy just yet.
According to another source, Bravo waited until the last minute even to send around the contracts with the numbers, leaving only two weeks before filming began for the women to try to negotiate for higher wages.
But the industry insider scoffed at that idea, saying that there would never be a planned shooting schedule before the ladies signed the contracts. “Things need to be in place, Bravo needs to know their availability, and the reps need to sign the contracts,” said the insider.
“You have to remember, there are no unions for housewives,” another source told The Observer, explaining that shooting can last all day on some episodes, with only a short break for lunch. Then there are the costs of the job: hair, makeup, and clothes are not provided, and if someone has a scene inside a house, the cast member also has to pay for all the cleaning costs to make her home presentable.
“A lot of the ladies end up in the red after the money they put toward being on the show,” our source told us.
But our insider disagreed, saying that RHONY was about showing women leading their everyday lives, hence it would be ridiculous to pay for the extra perks. (Though for some red carpet events and special occasions, the person noted, the ladies may be afforded their own hair and makeup.)
According to the Deadline article, the new (unsigned) contracts “threw in a few more contractual baubles like covering expenses for additional hair and make-up for the cast.”
Several other sources who wished to remain anonymous told The Observer that the problem was that the money simply wasn’t there. They complained that Bravo they didn’t spend nearly as much on advertising as they had the previous seasons, and the show was put in a more competitive time slot, moving from Thursday nights to Monday. “Of course the show would see lower ratings if you pit it against American Idol or something,” one individual close to the negotiations remarked.
But Monday night’s lineup is shattering the network’s internal ratings, according to Nielsen.