For real! Philly could get its own 'Real Housewives' show
A Bravo producer is seeking potential stars for the show among Philadelphia's rich and glamorous.
MOVE OVER, Teresa Giudice. The rest of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" might as well use their sky-high stilettos to take a giant step back, too.
Philadelphia could be on the verge of getting a "Housewives" show of its own.
In recent weeks, a producer associated with the Bravo TV show has been in Philly interviewing some of the city's most successful and glamorous women.
But wannabe "Housewives" need to hang on to their Hermes handbags for now. Whatever is in the works is only in its very early stages.
Producer Princess Ann Banton-Lofters wouldn't name names - nor would she confirm that she's working on a TV project associated with the franchise. Still, you wouldn't know it from all of the jockeying for position and tongue-wagging that's been going on about who's been contacted.
For the record, the "Real Housewives" program, which has installments in various cities around the country and also in several overseas countries, chronicles the lives and foibles of its wealthy female cast members.
The publicity-shy Lofters is a creator of the wildly successful "Real Housewives of Atlanta." She's also credited with discovering the biggest star of the entire "Real Housewives" franchise: the sassy and sometimes controversial NeNe Leakes, who is set to earn a cool $1.5 million for Season 7 of "RHOA," which premieres Nov. 9.
Lofters, whom I caught up with in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott on Saturday, wouldn't talk specifics about what's happening in Philly, but she was willing to speak in generalities about her career and "RHOA." For instance, she told me that she knew early on that Leakes was destined for stardom. Since she'd been here interviewing, I asked Lofters if she'd discovered any similar standouts in our town.
"One," Lofters said, smiling. "She's a star, 100 percent. This lady is a star. . . . She's a star."
Out of everyone there was just one?
"One," Lofters repeated. "She's no prettier than anybody else. She's no more wealthy than anybody else. She's no more loud or quiet or ambitious or anything, but she's a star. I can bet a million dollars on it.
"I feel like I can sell a franchise just around her," Lofters continued. "Big statement, huh?
"And I will," she added.
Fashionable but quiet
Lofters is every bit as fashionable as Leakes and the other co-stars. When I met up with her on a rainy Saturday afternoon, Lofters was toting an oversize, orange Hermes bag. She was wearing Jimmy Choo wedge sneakers, a Chanel scarf and hat, and Alexander McQueen sunshades with an olive-green jumpsuit from Zara.
But in some ways she's the exact opposite of the "RHOA" cast members.
There was a quiet, understated elegance about Lofters. She speaks softly. There was none of that eye-rolling and neck-popping that you see the "RHOA" co-stars doing. Lofters, who was born in Jamaica, grew up in Canada.
A single mother at an early age, she supported herself by working in the beauty business and later as a technical underwriter at a bank in Toronto before meeting the Howard University-educated doctor she would marry.
It was while living in Atlanta with her new husband and getting to know other women also married to successful doctors that she was introduced to a slice of affluent African-American society rarely represented on TV.
Around the same time she was adjusting to life in her new home, Lofters met a producer at True Entertainment. On a whim, Lofters pitched the idea of doing a reality show based on the lives of the uber-wealthy black women she'd been introduced to. She conceived it as an ensemble show tentatively titled "Ladies of the A."
"I really, truly believe the reason why the show became successful was I had no judgment, no preconceived ideas, you know, of the U.S. in general," Lofters told me. "I was just a girl from Canada where everybody is nice to each other and they are very polite and we still walk and say 'hello' when we greet each other. [Later] I was, like, 'Wow, these women really talk to each other like that?' I was shocked. I was really shocked.
"I remember I went to a party and I saw Sheree [Whitfield] and I was like, 'Wowww. This bitch is faaabulous!' " Lofters said. "I think she was still married to Bob [Whitfield] at the time, or separated. I remember looking at her thinking she's all decked out - a big Gucci bag, with a fur. She just looked like a million dollars. I was really fascinated by it."
Folks good for TV
Lofters' first visit to Philadelphia was in December, when she came to celebrity fashion stylist Anthony Henderson's annual holiday party. Henderson made a point of introducing her to people he thought would make good TV.
They must have made a good impression because Lofters came back. Since she wouldn't name names, I tried to squeeze some out of Henderson.
"I do know a lot of people who she really likes," Henderson said. "But I don't know if I'm at liberty to say anybody's name. I want everybody to have a fair chance."
I tried but failed to get someone at True Entertainment to talk to me about what's in the works.
Since they're not talking, who do you think Bravo should consider for the show?