Vanderpump Rules was rocked by some serious drama last year in the form of “Scandoval.” The situation centered around the discovery that veteran cast member Tom Sandoval was cheating on Ariana Madix with fellow co-star Raquel Leviss. In the aftermath, Sandoval received a considerable amount of backlash, and Leviss ultimately opted to leave the show ahead of Season 11. Almost a year later, many are still chatting about the ordeal, including those close to the production. Now, one of the producers explained why he “vehemently disagreed” with the criticism surrounding the show’s handling of the situation. He also discussed how everything went down with Leviss after the fact.
VR’s Producer Gets Honest About How The Series Handled The Infamous Cheating Scandal
The cheating situation came to light in March 2023, at which point it was reported that then-39-year-old and then-28-year-old Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss had been “communicating inappropriately” for months. By the time this all happened, the show (which can be streamed with a Peacock subscription) had wrapped on Season 11. All that was left to film was the reunion special. However, in a surprising move, the producers opted to shoot an additional installment in order to record the fallout nearly in real time. This decision was chastised by a number of fans and pundits.
Alex Baskin is no stranger to the world of reality TV, as he’s held producing duties on plenty of notable programs, from The Real Housewives of Orange County to Botched. The veteran EP spoke with the LA Times about the decisions that were made amid Vanderpump Rules Season 11. He revealed that there were indeed discussion about whether the creative team should break away from tradition and produce another episode:
Five years ago, I don’t know that we would have picked the cameras back up once the season ended. And by the way, there was some sentiment within the cadre of people who make these decisions that we should just wait until the reunion, which was already scheduled to film three weeks after the news broke.
He went on to tell the news outlet that he has no qualms about what was eventually decided upon and doesn’t concur with the backlash. For the Hills: New Beginnings alum, it made a lot of sense to commence with production for one key reason:
I vehemently disagreed. Because my feeling was if we could capture that moment in real time, that would be more powerful.
Regardless of how you feel about the actual exploits being filmed, it’s hard to disagree with the notion that everything that ultimately played out on screen was incredibly visceral. There are, of course, a number of variables to take into account when something like that happens. In this case, a decision also had to be made about Raquel Leviss’ future with the program. And, based on what Alex Baskin had to say about that, it wasn’t exactly a cake walk.
How Did Negotiations About Raquel Leviss’ Future On Vanderpump Rules Play Out?
Raquel Leviss joined VR as a guest star during the fifth season, before recurring on the series from Seasons 6 through 8. She eventually became a main cast member at the beginning of Season 9 – a post she’d maintain until her exit after the tenth. It goes without saying that Leviss was in an “interesting” position after Scandoval, which is why the producers had to have some complex discussions with her team and her personally. Alex Baskin described those chats as follows:
We had conversations with both her reps and her directly. Our first concern was how she was doing, and whether or not it made sense for her to come back — personally, emotionally. She was very conflicted about it. She expressed a concern about the way that the group would treat her or concern for being in a group situation. We said we don’t expect you to be in any situation in which you don’t feel safe or comfortable. There was, frankly, a lot of conversations about money. Her team was very clear that they felt that she should be rewarded. At one point, they raised the idea of her getting a development deal.
More on Scandoval
Of course, in a matter like this, it’s pretty much a given that money would be a factor. It’s also interesting that a development deal was even proposed. Still, it was ultimately decided that the two sides would simply part ways. Since then, Raquel Leviss has launched her own podcast, Rachel Goes Rogue, on which she’s discussed her career and the fallout from her reality TV exit.
When it comes to Tom Sandoval, he broke his silence on the scandal shortly after it was reported and shared his regrets. He also apologized to ex-girlfriend Ariana Madix, who remains on the show alongside him. I’m not sure there’s ever been any reality TV-related drama that’s been quite as polarizing as Scandoval, and I can’t say for sure whether we’ll ever see anything else like it.
You can watch new episodes of Vanderpump Rules when they air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo as part of the 2024 TV schedule.