Monday, February 13, 2017

Bravo Is Banking On D'Andra Simmons and Kameron Westcott To Save RHOD

Let's face it, the first season of Bravo's Real Housewives of Dallas was kind of a disaster. Questionable casting choices, an inexperienced production company, poor editing and a bad time slot all added up to a less than favorable debut for RHOD in the Spring of 2016. By the time the first season was over in May 2016, there were many who said the franchise would never be picked up for a second season. I, for one, never doubted that it would return for the main reason that in the history of the HW series Bravo has never canceled a franchise after one season. Well, except for Washington, D.C. but that was for legal reasons with that whole Salahi affair... What Bravo did, was set about to retool the show and give it the best chance of success the second time around. And one thing that would entail is new cast members. Over the past summer, I think every eligible woman over the age of 35 within 10 miles of Dallas got a call or an email to gage their interest in the show. Out of that group, many had phone interviews with casting and those who fared well advanced on to Skype interviews with the production company. Six women were selected to have video "sizzle reels" made to present to Bravo and in the end, two women were chosen. According to casting, high on Bravo's list was wealth, status and diversity. Well, they got two of the three with their selections. So, let's get ready to welcome Kameron Westcott and D'Andra Simmons to the crazy train, shall we!? Sources tell me that D'Andra will be introduced as LeeAnne Locken's friend and Kam will be brought in as Cary Deuber's friend. The reality is that D'Andra and Kam are great friends in real life and it will be interesting to see if they take their cues from production to play on the teams they've been assigned or rebel to forge their own path.

So, you want the juicy scoop the only I can bring you? Well, here it is:

I've known D'Andra Simmons for years and think she is a smart pick for the show. She's beautiful, funny, a savvy business woman, and definitely has the pedigree Bravo desperately needs. There have been several HW gossip sites chattering about Kam and D'Andra joining the cast. And while it is (clearly) true that they were being pursued, what those sites don't know is that it almost didn't happen. A conversation isn't a contract. And while there were LOTS of conversations happening last August/September, the girls didn't sign their contracts until after filing had already begun in mid-October. The show wanted D'Andra from the beginning, but she passed on Season One. Keep in mind that when she was first approached, the show was being pitched as "Ladies of Dallas" and not RHOD. (Click here for more on that story) Outside of the fact that D'Andra was hesitant to risk her A-list status on an iffy reality show, she was also already committed to another production company and had several show concepts in the works featuring herself and her handsome husband, military photographer Jeremy Lock. When production came back at her for Season Two of RHOD, it was clear that they needed her a lot more than she needed them - which is a great place to be when negotiating a contract. She expressed interest in joining the cast, only there was still that little issue of her contact with another production company. Kam was ready to sign on BUT only if D'Andra was participating. And D'Andra wouldn't sign until Bravo worked it out with her other production company. Seems Bravo got a little ahead of themselves and gave the go-ahead for Season Two filming to begin before Kam and D'Andra's contracts had actually been negotiated. So for the first few weeks of filming Kam and D'Andra were written into, but then kept having to be pulled out of, scenes because their contracts hadn't been finalized. It wasn't until D'Andra threatened to walk (and Kam right along with her) that Bravo caved and met (most) of her demands. While I won't reveal the terms of her deal, let's just say it's pretty sweet.  Pretty damn sweet.

D'Andra Simmons
Scroll through this gallery for images of D'Andra Simmons

So, who is D'Andra Simmons? If her name rings a bell for those of you who are fans of the show, it's because she's been talked about on RHOD before. If you recall, LeeAnne Locken and Cary Deuber got into an argument about what it takes to "be in society" at the RHOD reunion show. When debating what it takes to become a member of society Cary argued that LeeAnne hadn't been born into privilege. LeeAnne said, "I agree... I'm not a Hunt. I'm not a Cox. I'm not a Simmons - although I stood in a Simmons wedding. She's my actual best friend." To which Cary replied, "Who is?" LeeAnne says," D'Andra." Andy Cohen then breaks in and says, "I thought your best friend was Tiffany..." 😳  Um, yeah. For the record, I too was at D'Andra's wedding reception with Cary. It was lovely.

Here's what D'Andra says about herself on her company's website, "In 2008, D’Andra founded Hard Night Good Morning™, a natural, aloe vera based skin care line that is paraben, sulfate, phosphate and phthalate free. That same year, D’Andra was honored with the “Distinguished Woman” award by Northwood University. A year later in 2012, she was a winner for People Magazine’s “Real Beauty at Every Age” search. She has been named one of the “10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas in 2008” and named a “Fresh Face of Fashion” by Modern Luxury. She has graced the covers and inside pages of some of the nation’s favorite magazines such as W Magazine, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, US Weekly, In Touch, Cowboys and Indians, Vanity Fair, and More Magazine in Great Britain. D’Andra has also served the local Dallas community as an Advisory Board Member of Booker T. Washington School for the Performing Arts, volunteering with the Junior League of Dallas, AIDS Services of Dallas or Cattle Baron’s Ball for the American Cancer Society, and supporting various organizations that assist victims of domestic violence and cancer. So, whether she is helping people fight wrinkles and fine lines, or raising money to find a cure for cancer, D’Andra is dedicated to making peoples’ lives healthier, happier and more beautiful."

She married photographer Jeremy Lock in 2014. Jeremy is a seven time winner of the Military Photographer of the Year award. Lock photographs more than just Air Force Airmen; he also covers the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Special Forces soldiers as they deploy in war. His work has appeared in National Geographic, Time Magazine, the New York Times, LA Times and more. I've said before, that I'm not sure this world-traveled, gritty, military photographer fully comprehended what he was getting himself into when he landed one of Dallas' most celebrated beauties and married into one of our city's most influential families. D'Andra dragged him off the battlefield and onto the red carpets of Dallas society - and he's handled the transition beautifully. He's a salt-of-the-earth guy, a brilliant photographer and I think that Bravo audiences are going to LOVE this couple.

As for the pedigree Bravo so desperately wanted? They got it with D'Andra Simmons. The Simmons name is legendary around these parts (and throughout the world) for their business acumen and philanthropic endeavors. Google the names of Glenn Simmons and Harold Simmons to see how they made their millions. D'Andra is a self-professed Daddy's Girl and his passing in 2013 from a heart attack was devastating to her. D'Andra's mother is Dee Simmons - but those who know and love her call her "Mama Dee". I have always found her to be extremely warm and generous. I told her once, that I heard she made a killer chocolate chip cookie. She made me a batch the very next day and had her housekeeper deliver them to my front door. They lived up to the hype, I am happy to say. Dee is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. Dee is an advocate for cancer research and works tirelessly with The Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern, which offers a wide range of integrated, patient-focused services for treating more than three dozen types of cancer. This is one family who talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to putting their money to good use.

Kameron Westcott
Scroll through this gallery for images of Kameron Westcott

Now, on to Kameron "Kam" Westcott. I've only met Kam a few times, and she seems lovely but I wouldn't say that I know her, so I had to rely on our mutual friends and Google to fill me in. Here's what I've been able to glean: the California native is 33 years old, married to Court Westcott and has two small children (one boy/one girl). According to my Google search, Kam was named one of D Magazine's Most Beautiful Women in 2009. An avid animal lover, Kam is the creator of BabyLou Pooch Couture which makes couture dog outfits. The site is live but it's hard to tell if the company is still in business. What you will see on this season of RHOD is Kam launching (or re-launching?) this business at a pink, sparkly, lavish soiree under a new company name. She grew up in Montecito, Ca and her in-laws currently reside in Santa Barbara so she spends lots of time in California. This makes a Housewives crossover to OC or BH practically inevitable! In addition to being friends with D'Andra Simmons and Cary Deuber, she is also friends with RHOD sh*t-stirrer Taylor Garrett and ex-friend of the show Marie Reyes (see photo gallery above).  According to her Twitter profile she "believes in PINK & anything that SPARKLES!" Apparently she like to talk in all caps, so she and LeeAnne Locken should have interesting Twitter exchanges. And like every good Dallas Housewife, she is involved in charity and volunteers for the Rainbow Room, the SPCA, and the Junior League.

The D Magazine article I read sited her husband Court as the "owner of upscale nail salon Polished in Plano" but that didn't quite add up to me... no amount of manicures & pedicures from one nail salon could support Kam's lifestyle. so I went off in search of where the Westcott money is. Turns out Court is managing partner of his father’s investment company, Westcott LLC, which is the private investment fund of Carl Westcott. Ah-ha. To give you an idea of the kind of money we are taking about, in 2013 Westcott LLC invested $2 million in a German startup called Metaio, which is involved in a cuspy technology called augmented reality. In 2015 Metaio was reportedly purchased by Apple for "an undisclosed sum." And there you have it. Word on the street is that the Westcott family was not exactly pleased when Kam approached them about doing this show. It took a personal visit from the owner of the production company for RHOD and her friend D'Andra Simmons participation to sway them.

Bravo is betting that these two newbies will bring class and a luxury lifestyle to elevate the show. I'm hearing that these two definitely held their own during filming and gave as good as they got. Should make for an interesting season!!! Season Two of RHOD just wrapped filming so I'm guessing that the show will air late late Summer. Stay tuned!