Cathy Merrill Williams, publisher of Washingtonian magazine, agrees. "They tried hard to get political women, to capture the politically powerful part of Washington," Williams says of the show. "Did they do it? No. Because in Washington, the currency is not money, it's not exposure. It's brains and reputation, and powerful women are very protective of their reputations. They're not going to turn their lives over to a television editing room."
Of course, getting powerful, accomplished women might be boring, Williams adds. "You could follow Nancy Pelosi around for a year, and nothing would happen," she says. "Washington is full of really smart women who are making the country better. They just don't make good television."
So who are the other "Real Housewives?"
Mary Schmidt Amons, a suburban mother of five. She's a granddaughter of the late TV personality Arthur Godfrey, but more interesting to viewers will probably be the biometric lock on her clothes closet — opened only by her fingerprint — to keep her own daughter out. "When you have a daughter who shares your same size and your same style, you have to take measures into your own hands," she explains.
Lynda Erkiletian, who heads a D.C.-area modeling agency — given the limited number of fashion clients in D.C., she says, her business caters to ambassadors and diplomats. Whatever that means, it should be noted that she bears more than a passing physical resemblance to LuAnn de Lesseps, the countess-turned-etiquette author-turned songstress on "Real Housewives of New York City."
Stacie Scott Turner, a high-end real estate broker for Sotheby's, who seems the most down-to-earth of the bunch: Watch for her priceless look of horror when a tipsy Mary makes an impassioned speech about how black and white women (Stacie's the only black cast member) should share the same hair salons. Turner went to Harvard Business School, and somewhere along the way met Barack Obama long enough for a photo to be snapped. "I just knew that man was going places," she says.
Catherine Ommanney, a British interior designer who once hit the British tabloids because of a "long and lovely" kiss she says she shared with Prince Harry, and whose nickname, Cat, is apparently quite apt. Of the Salahis' polo party, she notes drily: "I was expecting something a little bigger." She expounds on her romance with her husband, political photographer Charles Ommanney, who took photos of Obama, and disses Obama for not having responded to their wedding invitation. (Maybe he knew something: The Ommanneys have since reportedly separated.)
Clearly, the biggest draw is Salahi — 44, blonde, willowy and fashion-model thin. "When you first look at me, you think I have no substance," she says, assuring viewers that isn't true. At her polo charity event, she runs about the room hugging everyone in sight. "I'm a hugger," she explains.
The show hints that her White House foray will be, like her role on the show, front and center. A coming-attractions shot features the couple in back of a car on the way to the state dinner, her in that famous red sari, and then, on the audio track, her voice at a congressional hearing, saying: "I respectfully assert my right to remain silent."
It's not hard to imagine that the gatecrashing episode will be a huge ratings draw — even for those not already fans of the show.
But will Salahi and her cohorts be enough to carry a full season? That remains to be seen. In Washington, at least, Joynt predicts people will be watching — albeit quietly.
"To a one, they claim they have no interest," Joynt says. "But I imagine most will watch. It'll certainly be something to dine out on after Labor Day. And really, who wants to talk about BP?"
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