Finding Canada’s “Real Housewives” fell to Louise Clark and Erin Haskett of Vancouver-based Lark Productions; they were commissioned in February 2011 by Shaw Media, which owns Slice channel. The two, now the show’s executive producers, searched Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, zeroing in on spas, personal trainers and Hello Canada society pages for referrals, then made cold calls. They were deluged with unsolicited applications, Clark says. They targeted Vancouver and Toronto, which had the best social calendars, outdoor activities and “pools of talent,” says Haskett, who notes Calgary had the wealth but not the lifestyle: “They don’t wear their money in the same way.” The key was finding a circle of connected women. “You don’t want them too tight, but with room enough for growth in the dynamic.” Finalists were asked to reveal all in long, taped interviews—lifestyle, spending habits, plastic surgery, sex life. “It was important that they were willing to put everything out there,” says Haskett. If the two-hour premiere is indicative, the branch plant “Real Housewives” are as hypnotically watchable as their American compatriots. The ladies gather for a back-stabbing “girl’s weekend” at a luxe Whistler resort, Reiko buys a Ferrari 458 and Christina enjoys a Botox session with her gay BFF Kevin Chase before her drama-laden 30th birthday party. Vancouver, dubbed “Canada’s playground,” serves as a glam Lotusland backdrop. There are no earnest tree-huggers here; the women don’t even carpool to Whistler. And, true to the “Real Housewives” tribal rules, racial diversity is evident only in the help, with one twist: Reiko’s Japanese mother lives with the family.
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