TV review

David Foster Learns the Peril of the Real House Husbands

The Daily Beast

December 9, 2015

Oh! But he tinkled the piano keys at Yolanda’s swanky gatherings so beautifully!

He surely took great pride that his wife ran such a surreally perfect fridge—a fridge with visible contents that was its own character, with its own Twitter account!

She took such cooing care of him!

It is true, David Foster’s many successes speak for themselves: the St Elmo’s Fire soundtrack, Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” and many, many more. Foster has won 16 Grammys and was Oscar-nominated.

However, reality television’s very own weird success-measure means that this astonishing career in popular music mattered little next to his wife Yolanda’s squabbles and make-ups with Lisa Vanderpump and Brandi Glanville, and more recently her distressing illness.

And yet now, perhaps, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fans, who had never heard of Foster before his appearance alongside his wife, know why we were treated to her emphatic reaffirmations of his fame and standing.

Page Six reports—under the headline, “Foster Family Torn Apart By Fame”—that Foster reportedly feels his success has been eclipsed by that of his wife’s model daughters, Gigi and Bella.

“A source explains that after Yolanda married David in 2011, she took the RHOBH role ‘to help her daughters rise in the modeling industry.’”

Also in 2011, says Page Six, Foster “was named chairman of Universal’s Verve Music Group, but now, ‘David’s record label is shutting down… and he is blaming her for this failure because he thinks the Housewives show has hurt him.’”

Worse, while the Hadid girls are all over the place as super-famous models and gadabouts, Erin and Sara, Foster’s daughters, star in a VH1 reality show, Barely Famous, and remain—Page Six bitchily notes—“just that.”

This comes after the couple announced to People last week they were to divorce: “Sadly we have decided to go our separate ways. We’ve shared nine beautiful and joyous years together. During that time we experienced love, friendship and the inevitable challenges that come with managing a marriage, careers, blended families and health issues.”

That last matter is central, presently, to Yolanda’s place in the show—she is battling Lyme disease, and another Page Six story recently posited that Foster saw the attention being paid to this was eclipsing him too.

“David thinks everything revolves around her and her illness. It’s become the biggest narrative of her show,” Page Six quoted a source as saying.

He certainly wasn’t present for his wife in last week’s season opener—she had decamped from Malibu to live in an apartment nearer to her doctors in Los Angeles.

Yolanda explained his absence in sympathetic terms herself: He had a life, and was busy, she said, with no hint of any marital discord. Indeed, Yolanda recently praised Foster as a “courageous husband” for “standing by” her as she endured her illness.

That doesn’t match up with the Page Six portrayal of a resentful partner, pissed off that his wife and daughters are taking a slice of fame he feels is more deservedly his.

David, listen: Your eminence would be the case if this were the old world, where fame was based on merit and peer-bestowed accomplishment. But David, David, David, fame is a different, rougher beast now.

Radar Online says the couple’s marriage is rancorously breaking down, with him wanting her out of his L.A. bachelor pad, and the couple only communicating through lawyers.

Yolanda is reportedly broke (but what about the money she earns from making RHOBH?), and relying on the material kindness of her ex-husband, Mohamed Hadid.

Page Six also claims that making the show has made Foster reportedly feel that he was once a big deal, but no longer, as his present-day fame has been surpassed by his stepchildren. “I’m sure he’s upset her (Yolanda) kids’ careers are popping off and his aren’t. He’s competitive in that way.”

This “fame jealousy” is an affliction not unusual perhaps in families where more than one member has a public profile, but it is certainly a madness exacerbated by taking in the circus of confrontational lunacy and lifestyle excess endemic to every Real Housewives franchise, where husbands are essentially accessories, and woe betide any penis-possessor expecting to share too much of the lady-limelight.

The lesson the husbands must learn, sometimes the hard way, is that the Housewives spotlight is not for them, and while they must appear supportive and occasionally terrified of the byzantine bitch mechanics their other halves indulge in oiling, they—even if they are not in reality—must remain secondary.

Men, see the titles of these shows: This is what you are signing up for. Know your place.

Hug and kiss at gatherings, fetch champagne, and then look despairing as the panstick hits the fan.

And so, in the scheme of the RHOBH, Foster was the reclusive songwriting genius, rushing to the studio, or collecting another piece of glassware, and Yolanda was happy to play the proud chatelaine of their hilltop Malibu mansion.

With that now broken—long after the current season of the show finished filming—viewers wonder if they will see if the reasons behind the breakdown of the marriage are played out on screen.

For all their drama, the unsparing anatomy of marriage breakdowns—these key moments of Housewife history—are often absent from the show itself.

In RHOBH, Camille Grammer’s marriage to actor husband Kelsey broke down, but its guiding animus was absent from the screens.

The days around the suicide of Russell Armstrong in 2011 were not played out on screen, and his family objected to his portrayal on the show as a creepy husband (Taylor Armstrong claimed he had physically abused her).

The damaging breakdown of Adrienne Maloof and Paul Nassif’s marriage wasn’t shown on screen either—they disappeared for weeks on screen, and then they were gone.

For a show that prides itself on drama, the omission of the grit of marital breakdown—the too-visible curse of the Real Housewives franchise as a whole—is instructive.

The filming is centered around the women; their relationships are primary, rather than the primary relationships in their own lives with their husbands.

At the end-of-series reunion shows, the men perch behind their wives, or are wheeled on as accessories.

In Atlanta—where Phaedra Parks’s husband, Apollo Nida, was jailed last year—viewers this season have watched Cynthia Bailey rake her husband Peter Thomas over the coals over a video of him in a suspicious clinch with another woman.

Under her fierce questioning, Thomas wilted, like a vampire being forced into sunlight.

Joe Guidice, married to Theresa, and the most notable husband of New Jersey, has been blamed by her brother Joe for helping her land in jail on fraud charges (Joe begins his own 41-month sentence after she is released later this month).

They were not married, but the weirdest, most recent Housewives relationship breakdown—and icky man-figure—was Orange County’s Brooks Ayers, who was widely accused of fabricating a cancer diagnosis, now to the shock and horror of his once supportive partner, Vicki Gunvalson.

The Housewives marital curse extends to the New York franchise, where another apparently urbane and supportive New York husband, Mario Singer, left his wine-swigging wife, Ramona—but again, not on screen; the viewers were left to watch Ramona cope, in her bug-eyed, lunatic way, with her new single life.

Scoring high on the douche/creepy scale is Josh Taekman, husband of Kristen, an undermining and overbearing irritant on screen—and then, in August, came the revelation that he had signed up to the Ashley Madison site. He said he had done so “foolishly and ignorantly with a group of friends.”

A source told People that Kristen was “extremely embarrassed and upset over thinking [Josh] was having affairs. As of now she is being her own P.I. and investigating. She’s looking through phone records and asking him questions. She doesn’t believe him. His story keeps changing.”

In Orange County, the curse struck Shannon and David Beador this season, with her richocheting upset over his affair, and their subsequent queasy-to-watch attempts at relationship therapy and—ultimately—a reconciliation.

The best husbands (famous last words), like Kyle Richards’s husband Mauricio Umansky, know they are decorative: Mauricio looks gorgeous, and supportive as all around him rows break out and glasses are thrown.

In Atlanta, Gregg Leakes, NeNe’s husband—they were divorced in 2011 and remarried lavishly in 2013—seems solidly devoted to her (although she is only making cameo appearances this season).

Despite some menacing animosity from her mother, Todd Tucker seems a good match for Kandi Burruss.

In L.A., Harry Hamlin seems a karmically stable foil for the screechy excesses of Lisa Rinna. In Orange County, Heather and Terry Dubrow have an apparently solid relationship rooted in love and unquenchable ambition, while Tamra Barney and Eddie Judge’s marriage seems to happily survive the interruption of robot babies and need for adult baptisms.

New OC cast member Meghan King Edmonds and her husband, Jim, seem good together—she coping with the death of his ex-wife (and her friend) LeAnn, and being apparently right about Brooks Ayers’s cancer duplicity—until, at least, the bitch-ery with the other women spilled out one evening, leading him to state very clearly, and slightly threateningly, he wanted no part of such shenanigans.

Then, why dear chap, did you sign up for it? Why?

A warning template, should Jim need one, is provided by Eileen Davidson’s fraying marriage to third husband Vincent Van Patten, which is being trailed as a storyline for this season of RHOBH.

And then there is Ken, previously the muttering, mullet-haired devoted manservant-partner to commanding RHOBH group queen Lisa Vanderpump.

Ken has, until now, stoutly defended Lisa from attacks from the other women, and held Jiggy the dog in that poor, seemingly mummified creature’s succession of hideous pink outfits.

But then, last week, as Yolanda barely kept it together during a group supper, he was the first—and boy, did he carry on repeating his nasty point—to note that he didn’t think Yolanda looked well, echoing everyone’s vacuous, insensitive shock not over her condition, but that she wasn’t wearing makeup.

And so, temporarily at least, Ken too is lost to the husbanding dark side, and—like David Foster—is yet another gray-haired lesson that, whatever coarse fights and putdowns their wives indulge in, even the most innocuous Real House Husband can fall foul of a spotlight that, while not intended for them, can still inflict a nasty burn.