Mailbag: Clearing Up the RHOA Salary Rumors

Time for a mailbag answer session! I LOVE that you guys email me questions and leads and comments and criticisms. I’ve been getting a lot of mail lately asking about the same things. Sometimes the questions are already answered on the blogs. Just so you know, if you click on one of the tagged words at the bottom of it post it will take you to the list of all the posts that mention the term. It’s a good way for example to see all the Chateau Sheree stuff at once because there are a lot of posts on that.

By far the most popular topic in the mailbag this week is the “salary information” of the Real Housewives of Atlanta.  I think the all the rented cars and Birkin bags and fancy labels have y’all deluded when it comes down to what these people really make. Let me try to break it down for you. First some background information for perspective.  The highest paying reality show is MTV’s Jersey Shore. They were paid $5,000 and episode the first season. They revolted season two and were given a raise to $10,000 per episode. By season three, Mike, Snooki, Pauly D and JWoww started making a lot more money per episode. There were rumors that were never substantiated that during the Italy season several of cast member negotiated for up to $100,000 an episode. That is highly unlikely. However, they are miles above the rest when it comes to reality shows even at $30,000 per episode.

Updated: In a lawsuit filed on April 12, the rumor that certain members of Jersey Shore were paid $100,000 per episode was substantiated when Pauly D’s former talent agency sued for 10% of his salary. As I said above the $100,000 figure was being reported by “sources” for the fourth season which was filmed in Italy. The same lawsuit claims that Pauly D made $150,000 per episode for season five. Again, Jersey Shore is the highest paying reality show on TV by FAR. I included these salaries as the very high end of the reality pay scale. All cast members on Jersey Shore do not receive the same pay and in fact this lawsuit could cause some cast members to attempt to renegotiate. I remain surprised that Pauly D’s salary went from $30,000 for season three to $100,000 for season four. Please continue to quibble in comments. :)

The other show that pays well is VH1’s Basketball Wives. Evelyn Lozada is the highest paid person on that show. Last year she demanded $20,000 dollars an episode. She did not get it. She got “double her previous salary” which means she was making under $10,000 an episode for her first season. She might have gotten 15 an episode. Remember this is the second highest salaried reality show.

Now let’s talk about Bravo. Time and time again, Bravolebrities have bemoaned the fact that they are paid less than any other network.  Teresea Guidice once ranted that she was not paid anywhere near what the Jersey Shore gang makes. Kim and Nene both had to raise holy hell to get Bravo to paid the electric bills that Bravo ran sky high when filming at their homes. In season one the housewives had to pay the electric bills out of their salaries. Relatively speaking, Bravo does not pay well. Bravo does not pay at all unless you are a housewife, or this season, if you are a “junior housewife” like Marlo, or RHOBH’s Brandi and Pam.  The junior housewives are paid very little. This is why Camille Grammer was not interested in being a junior housewife. Too much work for too little return if you have Camille’s wealth. If you need the money, it’s still a good gig if you can get it. Contrary to what you guys read elsewhere, husbands do not make a cent, kids are not paid at all, so when Slade Smiley tries to say he is making money for child support on the show he is LYING. Slade has never drawn a Real Housewife check.

When it comes to the RHOA, the last accurate number I was given was $10,000 per episode for the originals. That was season three. Season three had great ratings so Kim, Nene, and Sheree had a good place to negotiate from. But here is how Bravo negotiates. Kim and Nene were both offered spin-offs. Kim’s has already filmed and will air later this month. SOMETHING, I am still not sure what, happened with Nene’s spin-off. It was supposed to be about her dating. The rumor has been that Nene wasn’t really to date “for real” because she was/is still with Gregg. The bogus relationship with John Kolaj was not particularly interesting TV. So the show got canned. Speaking of Gregg, despite Nene’s ranting on twitter today that they are just friends (with benefits) who continue to co-parent Brent, they still appear to be in a relationship. The only thing that has changed is the paperwork. The latest speculation is that the divorce was done ultimately so that Gregg can file bankruptcy. Despite the divorce decree, there is more to that story than any of us know.

So that is one way to get more money from Bravo, more work. With the spin-off income Kim Zolciak makes the biggest Bravo check. This burns Nene’s biscuits. So much so that when Bravo aired a filler episode of RHOA that was all about Kim and Kroy, Nene tweeted that everyone should watch the competing awards show because there was no RHOA episode. Also, after/during season three Kandi pitched the Kandi Factory to Bravo and got a trial special that was recently picked up. Kandi also negotiated for producer rights to the show. So Kandi got a raise that way. More work, but also more money. Kandi also was promised that her Bedroom Kandi line would be an ongoing storyline. More money for Kandi.

What Bravo is less inclined to do is to raise the per episode amount. Nene has negotiated other things. It’s in her contract that she can accept outside acting jobs. More money.  But as an aside to that, let me remind you she is paid scale.  I know all of you Nene Stans think she makes a kajillion dollars with her acting career but it is just not so. I know for a fact (not a rumor) that she makes $7,260 per episode of Glee  and $4,538 for each episode of The Game and the other couple of half-hour shows she does. This is why she can threaten all she wants but she is not leaving RHOA voluntarily.  Nene and Kim have both been successful in negotiating for first class airfare when traveling for Bravo appearances like WWHL or Ciroc/Bravo parties (not events they do on their own). They also have received accommodations upgrades for things like nicer hotel rooms, bar tabs, etc.  This season EVERYONE got a raise because there were twenty three episodes. More money. This is how Bravo works. So while the figures from the season five contracts have NOT leaked (yet) it is possible that Kim and Nene got a bit of an episode bump of a couple thousand, Bravo is very cheap and there will be no big money raises. The top end of the salary for season four was around $250,000 plus whatever perks they negotiated in. Side note: RHOBH are paid in a lump sum contract not per episode. I have no idea why.
Another financial benefit to the  housewives, specifically the RHOA (I don’t have any facts about other cities) is that because the RHOA are not nearly as wealthy as Bravo would like for you to think, Bravo often pays for their rent. The RHOA have successfully argued in the past that they are required to live in posh living quarters that Bravo should pay the  rent. So now some of them are given a rent stipend. It does not begin to cover Kim’s house for example, but it keeps a roof over Sheree’s kid’s heads. Sheree lives in the apartment, condo, whatever you choose to call it, that she does because of the school district. It’s the cheapest place to live to keep the kids in a great school. To the person who asked, Kayleigh is fine and recently vacationed with her mother in Puerto Rico over spring break with a schoolmate. Another perk that has been negotiated is car rentals. When you see housewives (Like Sheree) show up in a fancy car, it’s rented. See this story for details on car rentals.

You should keep in mind that wardrobe is generally an out of pocket expense for the housewives. There are exceptions and of course Nene in particular receives gifts from designers often.  When you see a scene like the one where Sheree had someone come to her home with wardrobe choices for some thing she was going to, she gets one or more of those pieces from the company in exchange for the advertising.

I think that covers everything related to salaries. Also, some of you guys seem to think Kim Zolciak is not returning for season five, that is not true. Sheree is the only RHOA that is not returning. As for Sheree’s replacement, I’ve heard LOTS of names mentioned. They have interviewed LOTS of people. They haven’t made an offer to anyone yet. Andy Cohen sure was drooling over Monica on Watch What Happens Live but I don’t think they have the budget to afford her even if she was willing. If I hear anything concrete, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Now I know y’all are going to believe what you want to believe but don’t waste your time and energy trying to convince me that Nene or anyone else is making these numbers that are being thrown around. It’s simply not true. See picture at right. :)


Filed under Andy Cohen, Atlanta, Bravo, Cynthia Bailey, Gregg Leakes, Kandi Burruss, NeNe Leakes, Phaedra Parks, Real Housewives of Atlanta, Sheree Whitfield, Watch What Happens Live

30 responses to “Mailbag: Clearing Up the RHOA Salary Rumors

  1. Tamara, girl, you s*** on other bloggers. You stay having the realistic tea.

  2. I cant beleive I read all that! geez I gotta get a life!

  3. I never got in the reality tv craze. Do you have a favorite?

  4. Great article. I have been a Housewife whore since the beginning – I can't get enough of all of them…and I've always wondered/speculated on what they were being paid. Now I know…and it's not nearly as much as what I thought!

  5. Another post with no proof…just reads as bitterness and jealousy because the ladies make money to do nothing on tv – but I guess the great thing about being a blogger is writing what you want without producing evidence and having impressionable readers actually believe it.

  6. Thanks Tameraok BRAVO is cheapMTV pays the mostgood info to know in case I get to be on a Reality show( I kid ) luv your blogR

  7. I can believe this one…cause no way Nene and Kim made more than the RHONY and RHOC … this is more realistic to me. Smart of Kandi to get producer rights too … cause that means even with repeats – she gets more $$, right?BRAVO seems like a cheap company, so this is more in line with what I was thinking … and while I can still believe Nene and Kim make the most base salaries … I think , like you said, Kandi is up there with them because of her spin off and producer credits.

  8. I totally see Bravo being cheaper than the other networks with reality shows. Its wasnt too long ago when Bravo was a very dry network with mediocre shows and the same 8 movies. I viewed them as a tasteful version of TBS meets PBS, lol.Sidebar…Tamara I LOVE your blog, keep doing what you do. and to Miss 11:45 Anonymous…GIRL/BOY BYE!! Find a hobby and cut the out the bitterness!

  9. Umm the grammar on this site in general is really bad. nice site and good topics but the grammar really needs work.

  10. Thank You! That is what I keep trying to tell people that offer me adjunct work teaching freshman comp!

  11. My question is what about appearance fees? I have actually booked Bravo people for clubs, random parties, what have you and Nene specially I know for a fact as I have inquired her is not cheap (over 10K). Even to step foot on a carpet a lot of these people make good dough…toss in four or five of those a year if not more that's also good change. Also you left off book deals and other endorsements? Do you add that in? Kyle has made a KILLING off her book from RHOBH.

  12. Nope. My sources are regarding money Bravo pays. Of course they all have appearance fees and whatever enterprises they have going on.

  13. These amounts are much more in line with other sources I've read. Of course Bravo is cheap – there are 80trillion bimbos standing in line to get on these shows. I guess the key is to get well-known so you have appearance fees. That's where the real money seems to be. Just for the record – I'm available for that pet store opening AND the ground-breaking for the new swingset at the local public park.WD

  14. These amounts are much more in line with other sources I've read. Of course Bravo is cheap – there are 80trillion bimbos standing in line to get on these shows. I guess the key is to get well-known so you have appearance fees. That's where the real money seems to be. Just for the record – I'm available for that pet store opening AND the ground-breaking for the new swingset at the local public park.WD

  15. These numbers are plausible. I don't know why some people think Bravo is handing out OVER two million dollars on one reality show participant's salaries. The reason many networks are doing reality TV is because they are cheap to do, everyone knows this!!!RHOBH likely is being paid in lump sums, which makes sense, because they don't have to front.

  16. Tamara says "Thank You! That is what I keep trying to tell people that offer me adjunct work teaching freshman comp" – LOL, that's why I like this blogAnd it's good someone finally brought to "reality" that the 1 million $ salaries is a joke. Just think if their salary was a mil, we would really see some crazy drama :)Good post!

  17. ANON 11:45After insulting all of Tamara's readers by calling us "impressionable" I hope you can now go away and get a life – but mainly just go away… Why are you reading this blog anyway…TamaraKeep doing the good job we have come to depend on…

  18. I invited Sheree 2 years ago to make an appearance at an event I was hosting in Louisiana. She did not even ask for money to make the appearance. She did it for free. We flew her coach and paid for her hotel room and food at a casino resort here for 2 days. She wasn't received well by the people attending the event and acted she acted sort of shi*ty. I have had a little contact with her since then and she seems lonley and desperate. Dellusional even. At that time she claimed to be seeing Chris Tucker. SMH

  19. Thank u for the info. Always been curious. Now we know what's up. Thanks tamera!!

  20. Sorry this article lost all credibility after the first paragraph about Jersey Shore. Those kids are loaded FROM THE SHOW. Interesting that today's news proves it. Pauly D's former agency is suing him for back pay and list episodic fee from JS in the lawsuit and it is $100K. Also, the women from RHOA staged a coo during the season 2 reunion to dumb down the drama because they knew they were getting the short end of the financial stick. Their ratings combined with the "coo" was enough for the women to get a significant pay increase. They are the highest paid of the franchise. This has been reported around the web forever.

  21. One last thing. Nene's Glee pay is not relevant. Just because someone is valuable in one area does not mean it translates to others. For example. Susan Lucci was a daytime diva and paid extremely well. However, I know (for a fact as you say) that she was paid only $20K for the pilot she did for ABC. Feel free to not believe me but this is 100% true. I hate to comment on these blogs but some of this stuff is just so wrong.

  22. Ne Ne's stans are delusional if they think she is raking in money off of Glee. News Flash, "All My Children's" pilot was shot DECADES ago 1970!! $20,000 a pilot back THEN was a lot. She wasn't getting paid 20 K, when the show ended last year!

  23. Susan Lucci wasn't getting paid 20K an episode when the soap ended last year. Ne Ne was basically an extra on "Glee."

  24. I believe everything u are saying is lies u have no proof ur going off of gossip get a life ur blog is never right & that's a fact!

  25. I don't care how much they make its still more than I make. Get ur hustle on ladies.

  26. I am not the anonymous poster from above. I live this site and do not see a problem with this artcle, but instead I find it intetesting and informative. Do you guys read "Straight From TheA?" I fell upon that blog and under "photos" fir Sheree, there is aN intetesting picture of her taken just before she joined Bravo. She was referenced as a body builder, but totally looked like a man. It also referenced her being gay and that is why she never dates on the hw series, except for the fake dr guy last year. Sheree did look completely masculine and many viewers have questioned her sexual preference – me being one. She seemed way ti excited over the female stripper/dancer at her independence party and I always felt she was awkward around men, sex talk, and dating in general. If she is gay, just wished she felt comfortable enough to be honest about it. The story stated that Bravo had tried to kee that picture a secret and that is why the dr date storyline last year. I realize, this is all alleged – but it was still kinda intetesting. Anyone know about this?

  27. I was making a point claiming that while a person can be paid highly in one area (re: Susan Lucci) they will not be paid the same in another area (again, Susan Lucci only got paid 20K for a PRIMETIME PILOT when this would not fly FOR DAYTIME). To everyone commenting 20K is not a lot..umm.. THAT WAS THE POINT! Gah, why do I even bother.

  28. Tamera u have it wrong rhoa get paid in a lump sum upfront and they negotiate collectly meanwhile rhobh gets paid by the episide and they negotiate separately. also kyle richards owns a portions of her housewives franchise like 5% , thats why her sister isnt fired.

  29. You should really start your own blog with all your "insider information!"

  30. bsbfankaren

    Tamara, your info makes all the sense in the world. I read somewhere that Nene was getting $750k for the season, but could find nothing to substantiate the claim. It also makes sense that the tension between Nene and Kim has a lot more to it then anything we see on screen, and could absolutely have something to do with the money they receive from Bravo. Thanks for the info, and I’m looking forward to reading more juicy tidbits.

Please Read the COMMENTING RULES before commenting.