Reality star hopefuls lined up at restaurant Friday for on-camera auditions with David Katz, who is producing a Real Housewives of Malibu pilot that has some people excited and others fearing the town's image could be harmed.
"A reality show about Malibu is long overdue and I think it would be great for our business," said Charlie DiLorenzo, owner of Charlie's and a longtime Malibu resident.
DiLorenzo also auditioned for a spot on the show, along with 10 other Malibu women. Among them were an actress, a comedian, a couple of sibling Realtors and a sober-living facility manager.
When asked if the show would be part of Bravo's Real Housewives franchise, Katz said the pilot for the show has not been sold and is in the preproduction/casting phase. But he said he is confident it would find a home.
"We are in talks with the networks regarding the placement of the show, and based on the interest from a certain network, we started casting this project," Katz said.
He said his phone hasn't stopped ringing since he posted a casting call for the show earlier this month. The show may feature some celebrities or wives of celebrities in the cast, Katz said. He expects to get a lot of unique characters.
Comedian Carla Collins, wife of actor Tyrone Power Jr., was one of the women who auditioned. She said getting on the show would be an opportunity to boost her profile and help sell her book, Angels, Vampires & Douche Bags.
"I'm not a socialite, but socialites love me," she said. "My husband's family is Hollywood royalty. I'm the wacky, funny friend of my girlfriends, who I call the 'rack pack.' The show needs a ham and glam chick."
Collins' audition lasted about 10 minutes and she had the crew laughing as she talked openly about her friends and family, joking that she and her husband have much better chemistry on camera than they do in real life.
"She's a great example of what we are looking for," said co-producer and recent graduate Nancy Lopez. "She was an open book and we didn’t know what she was going to say next."
Katz said, "We are hoping to land a great cast. There's sibling rivalry and nepotism, all very prevalent in Malibu, as well as strong women with attitude and amazing style, which is immeasurable."
But not everybody is excited about the prospect of a reality show about Malibu housewives.
"I really hope the show doesn't happen," Mayor Pro Tem Laura Zahn Rosenthal said in an interview earlier this week. "These shows don't portray women in a good light and they tend to bring out the worst in people."
Rosenthal said she was at a casting for a similar show and believed the producers were interested in only salacious details about affairs and scandals. Malibu is a small, environmentally conscious, family town that is already a destination for tourists, she said. She's concerned the show may not portray Malibu in a flattering light.
In response to the criticism, Katz said, "I understand that reality shows don't get seen in the best light by everybody, but what they do for the majority of people is entertain, create jobs and give people the ability to see what else there is in the world. Malibuites are a mystery to the rest of the world."
The founder of the Malibu Film Festival, Katz grew up in the city and said he is a 20-year member of the Directors Guild of America as well as the owner of Ambitious Films and head of production for Planet C Studios. He said he recently completed a project with Jimmy Fallon for the new Universal Studios Tour, which will launch June 2, and he has several other productions in various stages of development.
Cross-promotional product marketing opportunities do factor into the casting decisions, he said, and are as important to the network as the selection of the cast because for the first season the women would be under a nonunion contract, earning about $1,500 to $2,000 per episode.
He said the show would be a huge long-term revenue booster for Malibu.
"The show becomes a free advertising commercial for the Malibu businesses on the show, reaching all over the world," Katz said. "People are going to see Charlie's on TV and they are going to want to come to the restaurant."
He added, "I grew up in Malibu. I understand there is a very tightknit community. ... Malibu has my respect and my love, and Malibu is where I will be living as an old man and hopefully die."