RANCHO SANTA FE — “We haven’t tapped into our billionaires, yet,” said Alex Shaw, a casting director with Los Angeles-based Asylum Entertainment.
But that doesn’t mean the search is over.
Rumors and speculation had been flitting about after it was leaked in December that a reality TV show featuring “affluent housewives,” from La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe, one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, was possibly in the works to air on what has only been described as a “major cable network.”
Since then, Asylum Entertainment, which has cast shows for several other reality TV shows appearing on HGTV, the Travel Channel and others released a statement earlier this month saying in part: “We are seeking upscale, affluent women living fabulous and glamorous lives.”
As of two weeks ago, they had already received about 100 applicants, according to Shaw.
With casting still underway, and expecting to continue for the next few months, nothing has officially been announced, Shaw explained. “We’re going down there (Rancho Santa Fe) to be nosy and see what we find.”
Shaw, who helped cast women for the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” referenced the Orange County version of the show as an instance into why conservative-minded areas (such as Rancho Santa Fe is perceived to be), was chosen as a possible shooting location.
“I think on the outside people thought that a gated community was a little boring, maybe a little ‘Peyton Place,’” she said. “But on the inside, there’s always stuff going on; sometimes the more conservative a community, the more interesting it is behind closed doors.”
She added, “Even a conservative person may have interest (in participating in the show) because they have something they want to promote.”
For the past couple of months, Shaw and other casting directors have been making trips down from their Los Angeles offices, scouting out the possible talent for the show, or for something else that might emerge all together.
As a casting director Shaw isn’t only out looking for the next on-air talent, but also, as the industry and her role changes, for the possibility of a new show.
“What’s happened with casting is, you used to be given an idea and then you’d cast it. Now, you’re almost developing as you cast.”
Shaw described the process: If we were out in the field and we found five bearded ghost hunters who work from Mars, we’d say “Oh, my god…they’re incredible,” we would go to a production studio that would instantly start shooting and they would, in turn, pitch the show around to a network.
“We’re almost developing as well as casting,” she said. “You can be out there and find all sorts of things and certainly it’s a show.” But Shaw did say it was getting harder to do because everybody has the same idea all at the same time.
“There’s a formula we like to say in reality TV. There are three things that stand out: sex, humor and conflict, so that’s always important.”
As for what they tend to look for in the women they may cast — those with layers. “We’d like for them to have something to say,” Shaw said.
“If they have jobs, if they come from a past where maybe they’ve struggled or they’ve come from a life of privilege, it definitely adds to the flavor of who they are.”
We’re interested in big personalities, Shaw added. “We don’t want wallflowers. We like people that have an opinion and…they’re moving and shaking. They’re not so much a housewife sitting at home, but they have stuff to do. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have parties morning, noon and night.”
The shows, once cast, are shot around the women’s lives, Shaw explained. “If there’s a party or a fundraiser you shoot there; somebody’s graduating you shoot there; if somebody’s getting married you shoot there. So it’s built really around the women’s schedules and trying to create out of that.”
In her opinion, Shaw attributes the successes of these types of reality shows to the “bling.” “It’s the lifestyles of the rich and famous and sometimes the masks that people wear to have that appearance. I’m intrigued and amused by it….
“I think people love to look at pretty things and pretty people having a good time. But what they love most about it is that they’re real people with real problems underneath, and the fact that those layers do come off, I think that’s what people like.”
Those interested in applying can do so by sending their name, age, a brief bio, area of residence and current photos and contact information to Alex@alexshaw.tv.