Following the suicide of Russell Armstrong, Bravo quickly canceled interviews with the stars of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and set to work re-editing the series. Rumors are still circulating that the show’s premiere will be pushed from Sept. 5. But before Armstrong’s death, a few of the housewives stopped in at NBC’s TCA party (Bravo is owned by NBC Universal) and I had a chance to talk with Kyle Richards about her difficult relationships with her sister Kim and Camille Grammar, why she decided to sign up for a second season, and the nightmare scene she can’t watch again.
How are things between you and your sister, Kim? Things between you two seemed damaged beyond repair in the season finale.
Yeah, we ended in a very dramatic way last season and we didn’t speak for months after that, but we ended up patching things up, you know, slowly but surely. Now we”re good again. Of course, we’ll always have our moments, there”s no doubt.
You sound like typical sisters in that respect.
We’re not always perfect. We”re working on this.
Given how ugly that last fight was between the two of you, did you hesitate when it was time to sign up for season two? It certainly seemed as if filming was hard on your relationship with Kim.
God, yes. Very hard. That was what was holding us both back.
I’m a little surprised the whole cast is returning, given how many of the housewives’ relationships either ended in divorce or seemed headed that way.
Well, we have one divorce this season with Taylor, so yeah, we had two divorces on hold, first season and season two. Thank God it”s not mine.
Your relationship with your husband [Mauricio Umansky] appears to be one of the most solid on the show.
You know, I never would have done this show if I didn”t feel solid going into it. I never would have done it… You know, we have our priorities in order. Our family comes first. If we ever felt there was anything affecting the family; I”d be out of there in a second.
What kind of response do you get from fans of the show?
The responses are so amazing. People are so kind, so nice. A lot of people say I’m the normal one.
I was going to say that, but it sounds horrible.
I know, because I hear that all the time and I kind of laugh to myself. But I am. I guess because I don”t have the staff or…I don”t know. I”m not really sure why people call me the normal one. But I”ll take it.
What is it like when you get together with the rest of the cast. Is there any topic that’s off limits? Like your kids, for example?
Oh my gosh. I mean, no. I mean, to me, it”s never off limits. I have four kids and they”re the love of my life. So for me, I always talk about my kids. But you know, right now, like Taylor, her little girl and my little girl are over at my house playing with my [other] daughters right now. And you know what? I really think what”s unique about our cast, and I”ve seen what the other housewives [are like], they really do fight. It seems like some of them genuinely hate each other. And we really don”t. I mean, I fight with Kim sometimes. I’ve had a problem with a number of the girls at different times on the show, and they all have with each other. But we all do really care about each other. We were together all day doing a photo shoot today, and we had so much fun. We laughed, and then by the end of the day, two of them are fighting.
Sounds like things are going well. How’s your relationship with Camille?
Things are better with Camille and me. You know, we”re very different and she thought I was somebody that I wasn”t and I didn”t know what she was going through in her life, so we got off on the wrong start. But we”re good now. We”re good.
Since everything sounds so ducky, can we expect any drama in the new season?
You I know, I think the thing that stands out the most to me is the dynamics in the women shifted so much this season. They kind of go back and forth and back and forth and just the intense emotion coming out of this season. I mean, we”re real women with real problems. This is not a scripted show. These are our real lives and there”s a lot of stuff going on. And some of it is very emotional and difficult to watch.
Though the show has many fans, there are a lot of people (and a lot of men) who think it’s either reality show fluff or just a show about women fighting. What do you say to critics?
We”re not just fighting… I mean, they show us having fun, they show us laughing together, they show us with our kids and doing things. And yeah, we do clash at times, but that”s real life. I don’t know if men realize that happens. I mean, how many times do you have [an experience when you say], “Can you believe I wasn”t invited to this party, how could she do that?” And then you get so upset. And my husband”s like, well, he doesn”t get that stuff either, but [women, we] get upset about these things. Women are very emotional people. And I wear my heart on my sleeve, so if something bothers me, I say it, and sometimes that always doesn”t always go over very well. I guess people like to watch and they get to be a fly on the wall seeing that. I think that also with our show, people… they sense that we care about each other and it”s not just a bunch of women put together to fight. And I think that”s why people like our show so much and that we”ve done so well.
Considering you are getting along so well, did you sit down together before signing contracts for season two to air out grievances?
No. Nothing like that, no. And you have no idea how many times I wished I could blame things on a script. I mean, so many times people would think the show was scripted and I was so tempted to be like, oh yes, it”s scripted, they made me do that in the back of that limo that night. But no, we didn”t have the chance to do that, you know, we all knew each other; some of us more than others. And we kind of said like, bam… let”s go. There was none of that. So we got to know each other in front of the cameras. And I think that was the biggest problem with Camille and me. Because she thought I was somebody completely different than I was, than I am. And I don”t know where the hell she was coming from. So now it”s like, okay, I”m starting to get to know everybody, you know, and now we all know each other and so there are times we argue, but we actually care about each other.
Do you regret anything that aired in the first season? That fight in the limo between you and Kim wasn’t pretty.
I can’t actually watch that now. I can’t. They showed it to me in advance, the producers, because they felt bad and even though we”re in a reality show, they do have integrity. They said, we want to sit you down. One of the producers cried with me. And we watched it, and we couldn”t even talk. I mean, it happened. I knew the cameras were there, but I don”t think about the cameras when they”re there. I”m not thinking about it.
Because they’re with you for so many months, you just get used to them?
They become like your family; you don”t even notice it anymore. So for me I wasn”t really thinking, oh, this is going to end up on television later. It’s just Beth. She’s my friend, the camera girl. So… It was very difficult. It was very difficult.
Can you ever ask the producers to cut something?
We don”t. I”m not a producer. I have no editing rights. Now I don”t watch anymore because it”s just… there are a lot of things on You Tube you know, that have that close-up of me going, like, raaaaaaah. It”s just not who I am. Yes, it is who I am with my sister at times, that”s the truth. But not how I am the majority of the time. That”s not how I am with my husband, my friends, my children, people who know me. But my sister can bring that out in me. I”m not proud of it, but it”s just the truth. And no one knows what our relationship is.
I think viewers who have love/hate relationships with their own sisters can probably relate.
I had so many people [say] I can so get that. I understand. And other people are like, how could you do that? [They’re] screaming at me on Twitter. And I would just sob in the beginning. I wanted to go to every person and explain, but you can”t. You know, you can”t explain your life to [everyone] in 120 characters or less.
Do you have a thicker skin now?
I do. The other day I said something on Twitter. And I had all these amazing responses. I love talking to the viewers of the show on Twitter. And then one person wrote something rude, and I said something back. I wrote, buh-bye, and then I blocked it. I blocked the person. And I was like, ha, ha, ha. And then all the people on Twitter started writing yoo-hoo, So-and-So just got the smack down from Kyle! I was like, yeah! So I”ve gotten better. I don”t cry every time now.
You leveled some pretty tough accusations at Kim during season one. Has she gotten help?
She’s worked hard on herself. After last season, she pulled herself away from everybody and the whole scenario and she worked very hard on herself. So that was the debate, whether she was going to come back or not, but she did. She”s a very different Kim this season, I”ll tell you that much. That”s also what was so frustrating last season. Everybody was like, poor little sweet, shy Kim. And I was like, huh? Poor little sweet, shy Kim? This tiger? So now they get to see more of the Kim that I really know coming out this season.
A lot of the housewives look to Bethenny Frankel as the breakout success story. Not only does she have her Skinnygirl empire, she has her own spin-off series. Would you be interested in your own show?
No. I”ve been friends with Bethenny for 20 years. I love Bethenny and I am so proud of her and what she”s done. She was a single girl, on her own, and she”s very determined to make it to the top and she did. And I admire that so much. And she”s an example for a lot of women. I”m coming from a very different position because I”m a mom. I”m coming into this with four children. I have a husband, and they”re my priority. I”m not like Ms. Whosthiswoman, I”m a mom first….I have fun doing the show at times, at other times its very stressful, but that”s not… that”s not my thing.
Now that you’re on the show, do you get treated differently when you go into Beverly Hills?
It does change. Some for the good, some for the bad. Like, oh, now I get the best table in the house? You didn”t even talk to me before! There’ll be a little bit of that. I exaggerate because I did grow up here and people know my family and me, but there”s a little bit of that and it”s just a little weird. The whole paparazzi thing is a little strange to get used to. My kids want nothing to do with that.
How aggressive are they?
They don”t park at my house, but when I”m at lunch or shopping, they”re in places I never knew they went before, like the valley or off the beaten path. And my kids are like; I”m not walking with you. And I”m like, aw, man! I”m so happy they”re like that, I can”t even tell you. They don”t even care about being on the show, they don”t care filming, they don”t care about the paparazzi, they”re not impressed at all and I love them all the more for that.
I guess you’re not interested in having them follow in your footsteps.
I was a child actor my whole life and they have no interest in that. Every now and then, the show would be in the house and we were doing something in the kitchen and they come through there, they”re fine. But at other times, their like, they just walk out and won”t come back. They don”t want to do the cameras. But I never wanted them to do that and I”m really happy that they”re choosing a different direction. It”s not an easy business to be in.
So, what direction do you want them to go in?
I want my kids to be improved versions of myself. The newer, better, improved Kyle. And I think they should pick a different route. Maybe a doctor, maybe a lawyer.