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Who are these women?: D.C. "Housewives" recap and fact-check (#1, Aug. 5)

"The Real Housewives of D.C." opens with a thrillingly cheesy montage, combining all your favorite Washington clichés and all your favorite Housewives clichés. The Capitol, the White House, limousines at night. "Most powerful city in the world... all about who you know... proximity to power... social climbers everywhere." And clinking wine glasses, and fashion-show poses, and ladies wiping tears, and then -- dum-DUNH! The Salahis in the back of a limo -- that iconic red sari, and doesn't it just strike the same chord of doom in your heart now as Jackie in her pink suit and pillbox hat? (No? Just me?)

(But remember - Bravo says this isn't going to be all about the Salahis. Hmmm? Let's examine the other lies and truths of this show. Welcome to our weekly annotated recap of "The Real Housewives of D.C.")

Here's Mary Amons. Born and raised in D.C., she boasts, "and I've never left." Except that now she lives in McLean, Va. (It's inside the Beltway, though.) She namedrops the neighbors: CIA, Dick Cheney. "Oh, and Colin Powell lives across the street." (True, if what she meant was "in the subdivision on the far side of Rt. 123 from our subdivision," a roughly three-quarter mile drive.) Her grandfather, legendary broadcaster Arthur Godfrey, was BFFs with LBJ, she brags; her lobbyist dad was pals with Ethel Kennedy. "I have fond memories of hanging out at that Kennedy house," she says. (We couldn't bring ourselves to call Ethel) Nice distraction: The "Pretty in Pink"-era pics of her and her husband Rich (he looked like Spencer Pratt then), as they embarked on baby-making, barely out of their teens. That is interesting. We meet these kids briskly, during a photo shoot for the family Christmas cards. Lolly, Piper, Tagg, Willow and Moses. Ha, not really. With any luck, they'll slink quietly back into their adolescence, unviolated by reality TV, and we'll never need to know their names. (Except for Lolly. That one's real. Remember her, I think she's key to the plot.)

And now, Stacie Turner. She gets the kindest treatment throughout, but producers set her up here for just a bit of bitchiness as she says "You can't say you are a native Washingtonian and live in McLean." Oh, snap, hear that Mary? Reminds us it used to be called the Chocolate City. (True!) Credentials: Howard University, Harvard Business School. (True!) Also, "I met Barack Obama years ago" -- and there's the grip-and-grin photo to prove it -- "and I just knew that man was going places." A Realtor, she talks about how expensive D.C. housing is. (True!) We meet her jolly husband Jason. (We know about him!) Two cute little kids. (We don't see or hear enough of the 16th Street Heights home, which they converted from a church, but which we've read is dazzling.)

Lynda Erkiletian runs "the top modeling agency in Washington, D.C." (How many others are there, Lynda? We'll never let her live that down!) We see her auditioning some models, and she explains that "we cater to the ambassadors, to the dignitaries" (Note to self: At next embassy party, ask what they're hiring models for.) Her condo at the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton is nice. At the dinner table with her attractive late-teens, early-20s kids. -- Sam and Jessica and someone else and her assistant who is also dating her son. She's divorced and happy about it. "I love my life, and having a man is a bonus. Ebong just happens to be a six-foot-five FABULOUS bonus." (That would be Ebong Eka, a real D.C. person, accountant-on-the-scene in D.C., aspiring fashion designer.)

And now - Michaele Salahi. (Michaele -- before she was famous.) Getting her makeup done, sifting through a heap of clothes with unspecified gal pals. "I love to make an entrance," she says, (red sari!) And then getting her hair done at Georgetown's Roche Salon (three or four staffers ministering to her at once, one of them owner Dennis Roche). Namedrop time: "President Obama, we did an event for him for Rock the Vote..." (FIRST BIG LIE OF THE SEASON! The Salahis did indeed get themselves into a Rock the Vote party, way back in 2005, and they managed to get themselves into a grip-and-grin with the new Sen. Obama -- also, the Black Eyed Peas and Randy Jackson, but they were just guests there, like however many hundreds of folks.) More: "My husband is the captain of the America's Polo Cup" (true, though this is an organization he himself founded just about four years ago, and which is not recognized or sanctioned by the U.S. Polo Association, and mired in trouble)... "and owner of Oasis Winery." (not really; his parents, still alive, founded it, and he's been battling them in court over the property for years.) She talks about how he takes her to Paris for dinner; he gives her a diamond bracelet and brags that it has eight carats. (How are they paying for this stuff anyway? Spoiler alert!: The Salahis aren't just known for attending dinners they weren't invited to: they also have a whole mess of legal and financial problems. See "The Party Crashers: Trail of Accusations; Trials, Tribulations and Legal Fees.")

Finally, Catherine Ommanney, the British one, frolicking in a leafy suburban backyard. (Chevy Chase, Md., just inside the Beltway) with daughters Jade and Ruby. Cute little accents. She moved them here in 2008. "Within a month of being here," her girls were "the happiest they've ever been." (Sad. Since this taping, Ommanney has split from her second husband and sent the girls back to the UK to live with their father.) She calls Charles Ommanney her "childhood sweetheart" (but later explains they knew each other briefly at 18 and not again for years) and gushes about his work: "One of the best photographers in America." (true, he's a big prize winner), but also "well known White House photographer... he was with the Bush administration for eight years, then traveling with Obama for two years" (misleading -- makes it sound like he's a White House staffer; in fact, he works for Newsweek).

Let's get the plot in gear, shall we? We arrive at the Salahi's polo match, September 2009, not far from the Washington Monument. Tareq calls it "the kickoff for the season of balls, galas, parties and networking .. . The Who's Who of every segment you can name." (This just isn't true. It's a minor event, with mixed reviews and a long list of complaints over its very short history) But hey, there's a dignitary!: Michele Jones, a Pentagon official (who careful readers of the Post's coverage know is the same one that told the Salahis she'd "try" to get them into the White House). She's in a sundress, taking the microphone saying "this game is the true reflection of the relationships we have around the world." (Note to self: Check to see if she still has her job.)

Michaele, a hugging, air-kissing whirling dervish, mingles with Edwina Rogers, an overdressed lobbyist in a red dress and black headdress. (There was a time last year when we thought they were going to cast her as a Housewife -- a bona fide woman working in politics. Didn't work out, though.) She's relegated here to just a tiny bit of chit-chat with Michaele, who gushes that she, too, once lobbied. 'It was hard." Then later, "I really like Edwina. She's a fellow girl lobbyist." (Whatever!)

But the producers quickly let us know whe're not supposed to be impressed with this polo cup stuff. Cut to Lynda saying they don't pay their bills. Also, that it's a little "goat rodeo" she'll never go to again. (Hey, maybe I don't need to be doing these little fact-checking parentheticals.)

Lynda, Mary and Ebong have drinks at the Madison (later the real-life site of the premiere party). Whom to invite to Mary's birthday party? Why, all the other 'Wives of couse. Then at Mary's house, where she shows off the biometric lock on her closet that keeps her daughter out (Brilliant! Did she get this installed just to clinch a reality TV contract?) Then dinner with the whole gang at Equinox (truly a very nice restaurant, in downtown D.C.). Clinking wine glasses. Lynda, in voice over, calls the Salahis "second tier" and wonders why they are there. (But why are any of them? The mechanics are showing here: Most of these people aren't friends. They barely know each other. Without cameras, they would not be together.)

The plot machinery wheezes into second. Michaele asks Stacie if she's going to the Congressional Black Caucus gala - because "I'm going to that." (dum-DUNH! If you've followed the Salahi scandal, you know that they crashed this dinner, months before they crashed the White House.)
And now, Mary's already infamous moment, telling Stacie and celeb stylist Ted Gibson (is he off-screen friends with these people?) that "salons need to integrate. We have different hair, different needs, but why do we have to be at a different salon?.... we have this beautiful couple leading this country..." (Mwa-MWAH! I think the soundtrack actually just did that. It should be your reminder that, as absurd as Mary seems, and while you are sitting there and saying, "omg, look at HER!" that that is exactly what producers want you to say. They spent six months with these ladies to get about seven hours (nine episodes) of programming. They're picking and choosing.) Stacie explains to the cameras that "Mary's a little tipsy."

Some other day in the future. Stacie and her friend Erika sit at her home planning a dinner party/cooking class with Janet Jackson's chef. (Reality TV clearly has some surreal perks). Whom to invite? Why, her new best friends, the other 'Wives, of course. Brief scene of Cat at home with the kids and Charles, who today may be regretting his little on-air anecdote about driving through North Carolina. "Everytime I looked out of the window I could have sworn I saw someone playing the banjo. It was like 'Deliverance.'"

Mary helps dress her husband for Washingtonian's best-dressed party. He's on the list. "The Washingtonian publisher is one of my best friends," she says. "I think she's really hookin' me up!" (We don't need to call Cathy Merrill Williams and ask her about this because, minutes later, the camera cruelly capture Williams at the party casually mispronouncing their last name.)

(I went to this party. With all due respect to the stylish ways of Lynda and Rich, I suspect Washingtonian only put them on the list to capitalize on Housewives mania. The rain kept everyone stuck inside a stuffy hotel banquet room. It was crowded enough that you weren't contstantly aware of the cameras, but they were taking up a fair bit of room, a little pool of light following Lynda and the Amonses as they tried to do normal mingling. The interesting thing: The Washingtonian folks called up the honorees, each by name, and when they got to Lynda... she wasn't there! A no-show! I was convinced that this was a bit of Housewives drama -- you could just see how this would be portrayed on TV. Instead, on TV, Lynda comes to the front when her name was called. So obviously, they recreated it for the cameras. Thanks, Washingtonian!).

Paul Wharton is there, this time with flatironed hair. He and Lynda gossip about the polo match (where we saw him with a loose, curly ponytail). Knowing looks, "don't you start," hahaha! Plot kicks further into gear: Lynda tells Paul that Michaele is looking too thin these days. "She's losing weight to the degree she needs to be spoken to."

Next scene is in Paul's apartment, exposed brick and high ceilings. (It's really his place.) He's got a big rack of evening gowns there that he's showing off to Michaele. (What does Paul do? He told MetroWeekly this month he's tired of people calling him a stylist. "I haven't styled in forever." So what is he? "TV personality and fashion and lifestyle enthusiast." He's been on some lesser-known beauty-and-fashion reality shows, and had a regular gig with the local CW-50.) His hair is naturally wavy today. He tells Michaele that Lynda "was very concerned about you and the weight." Michaele pushes back. "Why is Lynda doing that? Just leave me alone."

(Now, in the world of reality TV, this seems like a pretty minor conflict, right? But in real life, the stars have been burned up by this. It kept coming up when Hank Stuever interviewed them last week -- shortly after they all saw the premiere for the first time -- and boiled over when Tareq threw a glass of wine in Lynda's face last Friday, and boiled over again on "The View.")

Stacie's dinner party. Her guests include Cat and Mary. The chef, Cheo, offers them shots of sake. "I'm not big on sake," Cat says, and (mwa-MWAH!) cut to shot of Stacie looking offended. (Really?) Cat's just getting started, showing off an iPhone pic from Charles of Joe Biden in the back of a limo. Brags about how close her husband is to Obama., that the future president knew all about their courtship "from day one!" (We know that Charles is a well-liked member of the WH press corps, but can't confirm all this.) It goes downhill from there. Cheo discloses that he used to work for Tyra Banks. Cat says she can't stand Tyra -- which is undeniably a rude thing to say to a former employee -- but then goes on to talk in a sort-of dialect to describe what she doesn't like about Tyra. "I was shocked," Stacie tells the camera. Then Cat further offends Stacie by griping that George Bush had the decency to RSVP to their wedding (presumably in the negative) while Obama didn't bother. (We think he was accepting the Democratic nomination around then; otherwise, White House has declined to comment on any allegations from tipsy reality stars.) Stacie is offended. "I am not a fan," she tells the camera.

Preview of the coming season!: Michaele shaking some pompoms. (Nervy! She has told people she's a former Redskins cheerleader, even showing up at alumni events, but the team says she was never on the squad.) We see Jason Turner telling some other guys "It's actually called the penile volumetric measuring device." (Yes, his patent! We broke this story the other day.) More fussing about the Salahis: "They haven't been paying their bills." (We told you all about this, eight months ago.) And then a scene in which Tareq is leveling some accusation against Mary's daughter (or so we've pieced together -- see the end of this story). Scenes of 'Wives crying. Accusations, recriminations... and then (dun-DUNH!) more red sari. Voiceover of Michaele pleading the Fifth. (Before a congresional committee.)

(Who "comes across well," as we say? Lynda wins this round -- a little bitchy, sure, but light, funny, comfortable in her own skin. Who among us hasn't talked about our friends and frenemies behind their backs. Stacie comes in a close second, but you can't help but feel the producers are in her corner: They've set her up as The Normal One. Surprisingly for a show starring Michaele Salahi, it is Mary and Catherine who come across as the most obnoxious. They're the ones who had all the "Can you believe she said THAT?" moments that are the engine of a franchise like this. Just remember, everyone, as you shake your head and wag your finger -- that's exactly the reaction producers wanted you to have.)

By The Reliable Source  |  August 6, 2010; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  Housewives recaps , Real Housewives of D.C.  
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Next: Tareq and Michaele Salahi get served with court papers at their own "Housewives" premiere party



Pure unaadulterated trash.

And not only generic trash, but more like that stinky conglomerated ooze that sometimes leaks from the bottom of your kitchen refuse bag when you go to carry it out. You're not sure what it all is, but you know for a fact it is nasty.

The only bar I have to measure with is the fact that the Salahis indeed don't pay their bills, which is very well-documented, and the purported "charitable" purposes of their "goat rodeo" are extremely suspect, i.e., the ongoing investigation by the Commonwealth of Virginia into their "charitable Foundation".

So, in that respect, I will credit Lynda for at least saying something brutally honest.

But then again, I have to wonder why any sane and more or less reasonably well-adjusted person with a modicum of self-esteem would volunteer to effectively prostitute themselves [and their families, including their children] on national television.

So maybe, based upon that first episode, Lynda is the sanest and most honest of the bunch, but, you know, that isn't saying a whole lot.

Believe me, I will never waste my time on another episode of this nasty ooze.

Just my opinion.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | August 6, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

> Believe me, I will never waste my time on another episode of this nasty ooze.

C'mon, Lawpool. You know you'll be back for more. You're too disgusted with the Salahis not to. And if you didn't, I for one would miss those classic responses from Michaela (posing as one of her own fans) accusing you of being Rachel somebody who used to be her best-est friend but now is just jealous of her success, blah blah. Really, it's more fun than the premiere of the show appears to have been.

I didn't see this episode but I'm sure I'll at least watch highlights of the ones where things really heat up.

Posted by: MeriJ | August 6, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Did you watch this show? It was awful..everyone was horrible..and maybe all of them should account for their "charities" It's welfare for rich people. Where did Bravo find these nitwits? What a disgusting group of botoxed bags. I'm finished with "real housewives" This show was actually offensive.

Posted by: newman5 | August 6, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse


Your comment is appreciated and well-taken.

I found last night to be about the biggest waste of one hour of my time in my entire life. The only reason I watched was to possibly pick up on any reference to the Salahis' "charity", which I might be able to pass on to state and federal authorities.

I've never watched any of the "Real Housewives" stuff before. Was this typical? If is was, then I suppose the American public is dumbed-down much, much further than I previously thought.

Believe me, I will not watch such idiocy in the future. If mention is made of the Salahis' bad debts, bounced checks, judgment creditors, their purported "charity", or specifically their May 2009 "America's Polo Cup" event by which they stiffed the Montgomery County, MD government for a 5 figure bounced check [and according to press acounts may have stiffed vendors as well], then I am sure I can pick that up in the print media, and, if absolutely necessary, find the video portion on-line.

In terms of watching this nasty ooze again, I really would much prefer to put my head in my septic tank to watch and 'enjoy' the microbal action dissolving human waste and associated aroma.

By the way, you are correct that Missy, er, I mean "Michaele", has accused me many times in the past under her various screen names as being someone she knows. I've told her time and time again I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about.

If she really had any modicum of intelligence, it wouldn't be that terribly hard for her to realize that I am one who doesn't take lightly my clients being solicited for a possible scam, much less any possible scam in the purported name of some "charity".

But, hey, she appears to be not only a rather dim bulb in the lamp, but also just perhaps quite delusional, so I suppose that is no surprise.

My opinions.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | August 6, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Lawpool. I have watched Real Housewives of NY and that is a train wreck but at least there is a modest bit of seomthing to watch.
The DC version is awful and crap tv. I got sick of it after about 20 mins and turned the tv off altogether. Thats how bad it was.
Its basically a lot of badly behaved, spoilt and scary looking women who seem to not really have much to do and who are happy to be put into an artifical relationship with each other by a tv network. I agree with someone above who asked what kind of normal well adjusted person would agree to take part. And who would agree to do the publicity. What is wrong with these people. I reminds me of the Bachelor/Bachelorette (not that i have actually ever watched these) and the idea that you could look for love on a tv reality show. Stupid.

Posted by: katebrownvitolio | August 6, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

It was the most contrived, thoughtless, useless, artificial, absurd piece of garbage television since Sara Palin winked a couple years ago.

Yes, it was that bad.

Posted by: singleseatbiggermeat | August 7, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Too contrived. I wish the women were more representative of DC residents. The British woman absolutely has no business on the show, she knows nothing of DC. Aren't there enough attention seeking women in DC, to get real residents? It's like having the NY housewives living in Schenectady.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | August 7, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm committed to not watching the real housewives of anywhere but thought I'd give this story a whirl so that I could keep up with conversations at work. About 1/2 way through I had to ask myself WHY I was wasting my time on this trash.

What is our obsession with this sort of reality nonsense????

Posted by: msb1 | August 8, 2010 4:32 AM | Report abuse

Think about it this way: The Salihi's are a "real" couple in the DC area who have embraced all the glamour of DC and the horse country surrounding it and since the show is not a documentary about character but a reality show about extreme housewives/couples with all their wild character flaws, they do fit right in. And on top of that now they will (hopefully) be forced to pay all their bills. If you ask me, that should become a part of the ongoing story line. The other housewives should see to it that the Salihi's pay the hardworking people who offered their services but never got paid so that there could be some therapeutic value to the show. I missed the first 10 minutes of introductions so I lost interest 10 minutes later but this could be something worth building on.

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 8, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Reliable Source isn't the appropriate place for this TV review. It's not gossip or social/society news. What's more, the show's participants aren't worthy of such attention. They're neither noteworthy Washingtonians nor political figures. Reliable Source should focus on relevant people's activities in/around D.C., not fame-seeking publicity hounds' made-for-tv escapades.

Posted by: rweber3 | August 9, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Fact checker: I have read that Stacie claims she has sold some ridiculous amount of real estate this year. I've checked and see many transactions since '03- but hardly any for '10. She may be adding up her career totals- but lately- no way. She needs the show for income!

Posted by: RE1975 | August 9, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Biggest lie of the episode: stacie turner saying she does an average of 25-ro million dollars in sales YEARLY. Ask any realtor to look this up for you on MRIS, and they will tell you that it's a flat-out lie. The woman sold 7 homes in the past year - so by her math, they would all have to be around 4 million dollar homes. They were not, not by any stretch of the imagination. she is lying through her teeth and I know a lot of realtors in the area who are fuming, especially the ones with legit success :P very sad. As if she and the producers thought that people wouldn't fact check that little nugget of a statistic!! (Additionally, with those numbers she suggested, that would mean that she was making about 750k in commision every year. Let's say she would probably take home half that after her split and taxes. Do you really think girlfriend would be rockin corian counter tops and artwork that looks like she bought it at marlos??? I highly doubt it :P)

Posted by: lfairall | August 9, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Seriously - what was up with that house they showed the Salahi's walking out of? It certainly isn't the modest one that they actually own. Did they somehow manage to convince Bravo it was theirs? Is Bravo really that stupid or trying to convince the audience that they actually have money to support the whole nonsensical "proximity to power" schtick?

Posted by: jennifers1 | August 10, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Check your typos. Totally embarrassing for the Post..

"Lynda Erkiletian runs "the top modeling agency in Washingotn, D.C."

"(We told you all about this, eight moths ago.)"

Posted by: velvetindupont | August 12, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh, where have the copyrighters gone?

5th paragraph: "Lynda Erkiletian runs 'the top modeling agency in Washingotn, D.C.'" Before getting snarky about it, it may help to spell the city correctly.

The 15th paragraph is missing a period in the third to last line.

Or maybe it just crawled into the 19th paragraph, where it sits in front of a comma?

Lastly, I assume Ms. Erkiletian has established herself as "Lynda" or "Linda," but this article does not---it shifts between the copy and subsequent poll.

I suppose one media critique begets another, but while Bravo may be excused for its indiscretions--after all, it boasts of them--I can find no similar excuse for The Washington Post.

Posted by: told | August 13, 2010 2:50 AM | Report abuse

Dear told. Thanks for alerting me to the transposed characters and the missing period. I've corrected both. As with some online-only content not prepared for print, this blog entry was posted without the assistance of copy editors, so you have only me to blame. (I believe Lynda's name was misspelled in an early iteration of the poll but has since been corrected.) Thanks for your concern and assistance.

Posted by: The Reliable Source | August 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse still missed the "eight moths ago" typo. 2nd to last paragraph.

Posted by: velvetindupont | August 16, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

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