Muckraker Miller: Bravo's Real Housewives of D.C. Premiere Party Drama

Bravo’s Real Housewives of Washington, D.C. premiere on August 5 has already created drama in Washington — dueling premiere parties and after-parties, which pit the four unknown housewives against the famous Michaele Salahi.

The official “private premiere screening” is hosted by Half Yard Productions, a local production company which produced the Housewives series and sold it to Bravo.

All the cast “housewives” — Stacie Scott Turner, Mary Schmidt Amons, Catherine Ommanney, Lynda Erkiletian and Michaele Salahi — will attend the live premiere party, according to a Half Yards rep.

“The event is private and is a screening for the family and friends of the ladies in the show,” says a rep for Half Yard. The party of 250 is invitation-only at the Madison Hotel.


Media coverage is tightly controlled, with only “select media” invited “as guests and to cover” the event. The Half Yard rep says “several network cameras” are coming to cover the “private” event.

Salahi, infamous for crashing the White House State Dinner with husband Tareq Salahi, is party hopping Thursday night. “We are going to both the Half Yards Party and also to 3 other parties around DC!” Salahi tells Human Events.

After hitting the official party, Salahi will cross town to a less staid venue for the “Real Housewives of DC Premier Party Hosted by Michaele Salahi.” The unfortunately misspelled “premier” party at EFN Lounge is open to the general public and the media.

The Salahi invitation states that the “independent organization sponsoring this event has NO CONNECTION with NBC Universal or the Bravo Network.” Echoing the dueling parties sentiment, a rep for Half Yard echoes the party divide, telling Human Events that the “Salahi party is their own and is not affiliated with Half Yard or Bravo.”

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Although the invitation is for a party “hosted by Michaele Salahi,” she seems to be distancing herself from the party. Event planner Howard Cromwell clarifies to Human Events that “our publication is the Official Host of the event” and “Michaele & Tareq are honored guests.” Cromwell’s “publication” is called “DC’s MOST FABULOUS Magazine” and seems to cover only Salahi related events in Washington.

Tickets for the Salahi party are sold online and cost $25 for general admission, $80 for VIP and $150 for “Housewives Circle.” According to Cromwell, 80% of the profits from the party will go to two charities (Dab the AIDS Bear Project and Honor & Remember.)

Not only is the title for the Salahi party misspelled, Cromwell has changed the title four times in six days on the event’s Facebook page. The event’s titles have been:

“Real Housewives of DC LIVE Premier Party” (July 24)
“Pre Pay tickets are required for: Real Housewives of DC LIVE Premier Party” (July 25)
“Real Housewives of DC LIVE Premier Party – Pre Pay Tickets Only” (July 27)
“Real Housewives of DC LIVE Premier Party – 6 Days AWAY-Get Tickets NOW.” (July 31)

After the live premiere of the series from 9-10pm, there are dueling after-parties which again divide Michael Salahi from the other four housewives.

Four of the housewives — Amons, Erkiletian, Ommanney and Turner — are hosting an after-party with Washington Life Magazine, which D.C. insiders consider the most respected of the social magazines.

“The housewives wanted to celebrate after the screening with a fun party,” Washington Life’s Executive Editor Michael Clements tells Human Events. The “VIP after-party celebration” is an exclusive, “guest list only” party at the Buddha Bar from 10:30-12:30pm. The party is free for those on the guest list.

Meanwhile, Cromwell’s “DC’s MOST FABULOUS Magazine” is hosting the so-called “official after party” from 10pm-2am at Josephine Lounge. The party is for those who bought tickets to the earlier Salahi “premier” party.

Amanpour Panned by Public & Critics

Christiane Amanpour first Sunday as the new host of ABC News’ This Week public affairs Sunday show was panned by the public and media. The show is “unwatchable,” says one former ABC staffer. “She has remedial knowledge of politics,” says ABC alum. “She’s totally pretentious.”

The low ratings for the debut show reflect the viewers dislike of Amanpour’s approach to political debate. ABC’s This Week came in third place on Sunday, with 2.21 million viewers; NBC’s Meet the Press won the time slot with 2.81 million and CBS’ Face the Nation was second with 2.38 million.

The long-time foreign affairs correspondent for CNN, Amanpour was lured to ABC with a $2 million a year contract to take over for George Stephanopoulos who now hosts Good Morning America. ABC president David Westin was criticized for the bizarre pairing of a foreign affairs correspondent with the show on U.S. politics. One former network TV exec calls Amanpour’s hosting a “new forms of elitism… see how many people you can offend.”

Amanpour’s lack of knowledge of U.S. politics was most glaring in her exclusive interview with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The interview was more “Schoolhouse Rock” than the policy depth accustomed to Sunday shows.

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She asked Pelosi such simplistic, touch-feely questions such as: “Are you nervous about November?”; “But what does your gut tell you?”; and “For me, looking in from outside, it just seems … to be a never-ending partisanship. What is it you can do for the people in this highly polarized situation?”

Executive Producer Ian Cameron (who is married to President Obama’s U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice) made no bones about Amanpour’s political inexperience. ““She really wants to avoid the politics, in part because she has even admitted that that’s not what she has done,” he told Politico.

For the roundtable segment of the show, Amanpour had George Will, Paul Krugman and Donna Brazille in the studio to debate. She then introduced Ahmed Rashid as “the Pakistani journalist who is the world authority on the Taliban.” Rashid was remote via satellite from Madrid, of all places. For no apparent reason, she asked Rashid to comment on U.S. political issues.

Although Amanpour was named host of the show last March, she did not start until August because she wanted to spend the summer on vacation in the South of France. Amanpour is married to Jamie Rubin, the former spokesman at the State Department under President Bill Clinton.

(Disclosure: I worked at ABC “This Week” for three years when the show was hosted by David Brinkley and by Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson.)