As one "Real Housewives" franchise ends its season, another is primed and ready to take over the over-the-top dramatics and feuds that audiences can't seem to get enough of over at Bravo. "The Real Housewives of New York City" kicks off season three tonight and, after previewing the numerous finger waving and verbal fights in the season premiere, our Jim Halterman spoke with cast member Alex McCord about what actually goes on behind the cameras. McCord, who has been on the show since it began in 2008, shared why this season is the best yet and also had some choice things to say about how long of a fuse she really has, hocking your jewelry at a party and what shooting the controversial (and often volatile) reunion show is really like.
Jim Halterman: What's new overall this season for you and your husband, Simon?
Alex McCord: Life has certainly changed for me. The first two seasons of the show I worked full-time for a large retailer and I pretty much filmed on the weekends so this year I've gone into business for myself so you see me working a lot [and] meeting with my clients. One thing that's really big is that as our renovations are done, it's not so much about us working on the house as it is about us being in the house.
JH: And how about on the show? Can we expect the usual fireworks between everyone?
AM: There are some crazy things this season. One of the things that I think is great about doing the show with the same group of women over three years is that everyone ... you see the true colors, alliances shift in surprising ways. I can't wait to see what [the producers] do. We filmed probably enough for two seasons. I have a feeling it's going to be pretty explosive and this is going to be the best season yet. For me, it's funny, when the viewers last saw me it at was on the reunion show and I was using my words carefully and analyzing what was going on with the other women. A bit more of that. There's a little bit of a difference between being on the show with someone as opposed to just living your life with someone. If someone upsets you in real life you have the option to distance yourself from them and cut them out of your life but when you're on the show with someone there's no doing that. I think that causes some of the women to really say things they didn't like and were upset by.
JH: Of the women in the NY cast, you always seem to be something of the peacemaker of the group. Is that a hard role to stay in with all the drama swirling around from the other housewives?
AM: Well, it's funny, I don't get involved in petty arguments. I think that there shouldn't be too much importance to nonsense. To that end, sometimes in the past that has made me look as though maybe I was glossing over some behavior that I didn't like. Again, when you're with the same group of people for such a long time, things really come out [this season] and certainly you'll see me engage in some conversations where I couldn't take it anymore. I can tell you that my conscience is absolutely clear about the things that I said. Again, I don't know what is going to make the show but there was some places where I finally had had enough and let people know how I felt. I'm sure you'll wind up seeing that as the season goes along. I know that there's a quote on BravoTV.com where you see me saying 'I'm very calm, cool and collected until I am not.' That's very true for me. I have a pretty long fuse and I don't tolerate nonsense very much but finally you push me hard enough and it gets to a point where I'll let you have it.
JH: In the season premiere, Ramona throws a party on a yacht and decides to bring out her jewelry line and Jill and the Countess got pretty bent out of shape. Tacky or no?
AM: Most of us from the NY cast and, in contrast, from some of the other franchises are very entrepreneurial and we all have our own things going on. Personally, I support that. Whether you make jewelry or you make cars or you write a book or you do makeup, the only way to sell it is to tell people about it and I'm all for that. I've worked in various forms of retails for quite a long time and that is what you have to do. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with Ramona bringing out her jewelry. There was some fun kind of drama later on involving Ramona's jewelry. Again, we filmed so much and so much of it was explosive but even if there are people on the show that I don't get along with I respect everybody's entrepreneurial spirit and wanting to get their product out there. I mean, even if there's an outlet I don't like, I still hope that their product sells. I expect the same from them. Ramona gave me a jar of her face cream and I used it!
JH: The reunion shows at the end of each season are so much fun to watch but are they fun to actually do?
AM: They can be exhausting. I know that our last reunion show was the first time that Bravo got so much footage that they got two episodes out of it. But, it is fun to be able to talk about things with people as well as have Andy [Cohen, SVP of Original Programming and Development] and if you get into a discussion with someone in the course of the show, there are other variables. When we shoot the reunion show we are all there, on the couch with Andy and he's attempting to keep a lid on people being able to take turns so everyone gets a chance to talk. There's really no running away and hiding so it's a place to air whatever grievance or compliment you may have not been able to share with them. It's just a different format but I think it's a great part of the show and I think that it really caps it off. And I think viewers have really learned to expect that that's known as the epilogue of the series. It's become a way to also heal the fallout of what's happened while the show is airing.
JH: Do you have time to watch your show or the other shows in the franchise?
AM: We watch the screeners of our show in time to write our blogs so we don't always watch them live. As far as the other shows go, the game has really changed because of social media. When we first started 'Housewives,' nobody was on Facebook and Twitter and we've all gotten pulled into that world. I think that something that's really fantastic about reality TV and social media together is that fans of the show really want to interact and know about our real lives and what better way to do that than Facebook and Twitter. Because of that, we now DVR episodes of some of the other shows because people who are members of our fan page will ask Simon what he thinks or what I think of Alexis's behavior at so-and-so's party. We never used to watch them before or it would be maybe happenstance that we'd catch an episode but from now on we try to keep up with them only because our fans ask us about them.
JH: Outside of the "Housewives" what do you have going on?
AM: I have a book coming out on April 6th so once we start the show airing and then as soon as we get done with that Simon and I will be off promoting our book so that's what's next for us. It's called Little Kids, Big City.
"The Real Housewives of New York City" returns tonight at 11:00/10:00c on Bravo before assuming its regular Thursday, 10:00/9:00c slot next week.