Lisa Vanderpump Dishes on the Beverly Hills Housewives, Wendy Williams Holds Court

Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump
Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump

1003_mockup.gifHappy New Year — now let’s get  back to business. The power lunch season is back in full swing at Michael’s, so we’re serving up a double helping of ‘Lunch’ this week.

On Tuesday, Lisa Vanderpump and her husband Ken Todd joined me along with Bravo’s Jennifer Geisser and Jodi Davis at Table One to talk about her new Bravo series, Vanderpump Rules and, of course, dish about the current season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lisa was wrapping up a whirlwind 48-hour stop in New York to promote her new show and in the last 24 hours appeared on Good Morning America, The Wendy Williams Show, Joy Behar, Anderson Live and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen where, so I heard, things got a little bawdy. It took a few minutes for Lisa and Ken to make their way to our table, because several RHOBH fans stopped them to ask to take a photo with Giggy, their Pomeranian who accompanies them everywhere. It turns out Giggy also has a famous fan in Alec Baldwin, who Lisa told me, jumped out of his town car at 30 Rock that very morning and asked, “Can I hold him?” He then snapped his own photo with the four-legged reality star who has his own Twitter handle. See, Andrea Peyser, the 30 Rock star does have a heart.

When Lisa and Ken settled in for our chat and Giggy, who was wearing a jewel encrusted sweater that I’m pretty sure cost more than my dress, was safely seated and drinking water out of a champagne glass (you can’t make this stuff up) — I just had to ask why this very successful, smart and even-keeled couple jumped into the reality show pool of insanity in the first place. It turns out Ken was “extremely apprehensive” about letting in the cameras in, and Lisa turned down requests many times before deciding to give it a try. None other than Jennifer Flavin (Mrs. Sylvester Stallone), who was obsessed with the New York housewives, encouraged Lisa to try out. “We were sitting on Jennifer and Sly’s bed and she said, ‘You have to watch this.’ I did and thought, ‘I’d never do anything like that.'” Well, never say never. After finally auditioning for the show and then waiting months to hear from the producers, Lisa decided she did want in. “Once I thought it might not happen then I wanted it,” said Lisa with a laugh. While awaiting word from Bravo, Lisa had attached herself to another reality show with friend Kathy Hilton, but when Andy Cohen came calling she was in. And that, as they say, was that.

Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump
Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump
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In a typical six-degrees-of-Beverly-Hills-separation way, Lisa did know all the women that wound up on the show. “But not like the way I know them now,” she said. Indeed. After last season’s tense, accusation-filled reunion show where costar Adrienne Maloof accused Lisa of selling stories to media outlets, which Lisa vehemently denied, her relationship with her former neighbor has cooled considerably. Now it seems, Adrienne turned her attention to her soon to be ex-husband Dr. Paul Nassif. “She’s been vicious to him in the press,” says Lisa. When I asked Lisa how the other housewives feel about her getting her own show she told me, “Brandi [Glanville] has been supportive and Taylor [Armstrong] sent me flowers.” You can fill in the rest. As for the newest housewife, Yolanda Foster, Lisa says, “Yolanda is just hitting her stride with the show. I think she was a good addition to the cast.”

In talking with Lisa it’s clear that she considers her reality show fame a lark. “I always loved being a wife and mother and all the things that go along with that.” Lisa and Ken have been married for almost 30 years, which is something like 200 years in Beverly Hills. “We’re each other’s best friends, ” says Ken when asked for the secret to their long-lasting union. Lisa agrees. “It’s all about respect. Once that is gone, you’re in trouble.” It’s always been family first with the couple who has managed to build an incredibly successful business together, including their restaurants in Beverly Hills, Villa Blanca and Sur. A reality show just never figured into the plans.  “I don’t think I would have done it if my children were younger. The show came along at the right time. We had a empty nest,” she said. Last season when her daughter Pandora got married, Lisa, Ken and the bride-to-be were fiercely protective of just what they would allow to be aired and, while it might not have looked like it on camera, limited what the producers could and could not film. Pandora even got final approval on what would air.”It was her day and she knew what she wanted.”