Replacing Lisa Rinna on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is impossible, according to executive producer Alex Baskin.
“I think you never look to replace someone who just departed — because there is only one Lisa Rinna,” Baskin told Page Six on Monday during a panel at the 2023 Realscreen Summit in Austin, Tx.
Still, there is a spot — or maybe even a few, given Diana Jenkins’ additional exit — to fill before “RHOBH” heads back into production for Season 13. (Season 12 finished airing in October 2022.)
“I think you look for someone who is going to both fit in and stand out,” the reality TV vet continued, describing the kind of woman he sees mingling with the likes of Kyle Richards, Garcelle Beauvais and Erika Jayne.
Finding such a gem can be “really hard,” Baskin explained. “You want someone who has relationships with the rest of the group, someone who will be a real girlfriend to them and, at the same time, someone who will make a distinct impression.”
Earlier this month, Rinna, 59, announced her departure from “Beverly Hills” after eight consecutive seasons on the hit reality show.
“This is the longest job I have held in my 35 year career,” she told People in a statement on Jan. 5. “And I am grateful to everyone at Bravo and all those involved in the series.”
The decision came after Rinna’s contract expired at the end of Season 12, a very contentious one that saw her repeatedly face off with “friend of” the cast Kathy Hilton.
The conflict was dissected throughout an ensuing three-part reunion, which Baskin reflected on at Realscreen. “It was horrible,” he said with a laugh.
The CEO of the newly launched 32 Flavors Entertainment, who has produced “RHOBH” and “The Real Housewives of Orange County” for years, admitted that reunions are becoming a bigger challenge as the franchise evolves.
“They’re harder and harder. I think we cover more and, in general, nothing is off-limits with the shows. Because the audience is so involved in the reunions … everything under the sun is thought of and asked,” he observed.
“It does take a lot of stamina. I always say the season is a marathon and the reunion is a sprint and you’re dead-tired at the end.”
Baskin was joined onstage at Realscreen by other “Housewives” creators — including Pamela Gimenez, VP, Unscripted Current Production, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming; Lorraine Haughton-Lawson, SVP, Current Production at Truly Original; and Kathleen French, SVP, Current Production, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.
For the panel — titled “Case Study: Inside the ‘Real Housewives’ Phenomenon” — each participant discussed their experience working for the franchise, illustrating how it has become ubiquitous in pop culture with dozens of iterations and spinoffs.
“It’s a great franchise. We’re really proud of it. The people who work on the shows love the shows,” said French, who works on “RHOBH” and “The Real Housewives of Miami.”
“I think the women are proud of what they do and speaking both as an executive producer but also as a network exec, I’m so proud of the franchise as well.”