Saturday, November 20, 2021

Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn

Well, well, well, where to start with this one? It serves up a few tasty tidbits about the Housewives casts from all the cities (except Salt Lake), and I think hardcore fans of the show will find enough here to make it worth their time. But, honestly, there aren't as many big reveals or juicy behind-the-scenes revelations as I'd expected (much of it was things fans already know), while other shocking claims found in it didn't always ring true — and there's no attempt to follow up or verify those claims. Read this book with a gigantic grain of salt at hand (along with a glass of rosé, of course!).

This book is basically a straight-up oral history. Cast, producers and the like are interviewed, and their answers transcribed here. It's organized into chapters for each of the Housewives franchises. 

I've loved many oral histories, but this wasn't as satisfying for some reason. Maybe because Bravo very likely had creative control, which meant anything they didn't want included wasn't going in. That didn't stop them from letting plenty of tea spill down the pages, but who knows what got cut and why? Or if Housewives weren't told about and offered a chance to respond to some of the outlandish claims made by their fellow cast members, because it was just too good for Bravo to leave a wild accusation out there, unanswered.

There were a few tidbits I found both interesting and believable, and that made it worth the time to me. For instance, one-season wonder Barbara Kavovit (who had friend status in New York) and former apple-holder Carole Radziwill gave explanations that make a lot of sense as to why in the great big world Luann went through with her marriage to Terrible Tom (no one called him that on the show, but if the creepy shoe fits, wear it).

"Barbara Kavovit: ... Luann cared more about the press than her own emotional well-being. She was so wrapped up in 'Am I in People magazine? Am I in Us magazine? Did they take a picture of me and Tom?' All she cared about was the spotlight."

"Carole Radziwill: She said the only reason she’s going through with this is because she sold the exclusive to People magazine, and she’s going to go through with it, deal with it, then get divorced. That was Luann’s plan."

Dayum! Now that is some good gossip, and it makes so much sense!

And then there are the questionable claims littered throughout (get that salt ready). Like when Sonja Morgan claimed to have "a sixteenth-century chest in my front entrance that’s worth at least half a million dollars." Girl, we all know if you had such an item, you'd sell it quicker than you can declare: "I'm an international fashion lifestyle brand." Ain't nothing going on but the rent at Château Morgan (it's probably more like tax bills and maintenance costs than rent, but whatever it is, she's struggling to pay it).

Or how about this claim from Heather Thomson: "I had taken her [Sonja] out of a vestibule where she was letting guys put lit cigarettes in her vagina."

How the hell would that even work? Like, I know Sonja gets wild, but the logistics ... well, it sounded dubious to me. Then I listened to a podcast about this book, and it turns out a friend of Sonja's had joked online about doing this cigarette business. As in, it was an obvious joke (that also included putting a Rolex in the same location, just to hit home that he wasn't serious). Wow, Heather, wow!

The story behind the story of this book is also interesting, but Housewives fans have to piece it together themselves, because Andy Cohen sure won't tell it on his talk show. Before we had Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn, a different writer who also recaps and revels in the Housewives shows was writing a book about his favorite reality franchise. Brian Moylan was working away, had done some interviews and had contacted people who were interested in participating, and he didn't hide this from people at Bravo. He didn't know he needed to. Cut to Bravo demanding complete control over the book's editing and marketing, as well as 10 percent of sales, or else they wouldn't cooperate. It was his idea, his baby, his work, and they wanted total control and a big cut? He said no, a decision I wonder if he's lived to regret after the success of Quinn's book. (Moylan briefly discusses what went down in his book, titled The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives.)

When Bravo said they wouldn't cooperate, that resulted in people who had previously been interested in talking to Moylan suddenly icing him out. It meant the Housewives didn't talk about the book on social media, and that Cohen never promoted it on his TV or radio shows. So later Quinn comes out with this book, and lo and behold all the housewives talk about it on social — a lot. And look at that, it's printed by Andy Cohen books. So I'm gonna guess Cohen has a nice piece of the action, and with all the promotion it gave Quinn a New York Times bestseller. Which is probably what Moylan would've had if he'd played ball with Bravo.

As it was, Moylan's book is the less juicy of the two, but only because he was sabotaged by Bravo cutting him off from most insider information. I would love to see what Moylan's book could have been if Bravo hadn't squashed his access. 

In a Kirkus interview Moylan said: "We talked about maybe partnering up and them helping me get interviews and promote it, and eventually they presented an offer to my editor saying they wanted 10% of every book sale and total editorial control of the marketing. We were like, 'No thanks.' So then they called all of the Real Housewives past, present, and future, and were like, 'Don’t talk to this guy.'" Ouch. 

For fans who want to go deeper into this whole mess of an allegedly stolen idea and how Moylan got screwed, check out the podcast Hot Takes & Deep Dives where they discuss Not All Diamonds and Rosé, which aired Nov. 1, 2021. Go to the 8:24 mark in the podcast to hear the discussion of how, as the host says, "they [Bravo] ripped this idea off" Brian Moylan.

Cohen is so unwilling to give a breath of promotion to Moylan's book that when a caller into his radio show confused the two books, he told her she was talking about a different book than the one he was promoting. But claimed to not know the name of the other book about the Housewives (yeah, right!) AND referred to Moylan's book as "a bunch of Google searches in a book." That was super shady, because Cohen/Bravo are the reason Moylan's book was more research into the history of the Housewives and reality TV than it was juicy exposé (discussion of this begins at the 12:09 mark in the podcast). Somewhere in here, they also discuss Ramona's claims about Sonja and the cigarette.

I don't know if the author of this book, Dave Quinn, had any idea of what transpired with Moylan. And who can blame him for striking a deal with Bravo to create what, which lots of promotion from Housewives, became a bestseller? I do believe a deal was struck, as it was printed by Andy Cohen Books. And there's nothing wrong with Quinn striking that deal, especially if Bravo came to him with an idea for a book they'd help him get interviews for and promote (which may be how that went down, but who knows?). But I can't help feeling Moylan got screwed in all this by Bravo, which was sad to learn.

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