LA Times Studios Partners With ABC News on Randall Emmett Doc Amid #Scandoval Controversy
The first of three “Vanderpump Rules” #Scandoval reunion episodes will air on May 24, but for fans who can’t wait that long for the fireworks that Bravo has promised, there’s a tailgating opportunity in the form of a documentary titled “The Randall Scandal: Love, Loathing, and Vanderpump.”
The 90-minute Hulu doc, which begins streaming on May 22, stems from the Los Angeles Times story, “The Man Who Played Hollywood: Inside Randall Emmett’s Crumbling Empire” written by Amy Kaufman and Meg James. The article, published in June 2022, revealed lawsuits, debts and troubling allegations regarding Emmett’s relationships with women, assistants and business partners.
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See below for an exclusive clip from the documentary, the first collaboration between L.A. Times Studios and ABC News Studios.
It was in motion well before the #Scandoval about an affair between “Vanderpump Rules” stars Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss created a tabloid frenzy in March. The new doc centers on allegations about Emmett, a film producer who was involved with Lala (Lauren) Kent, another member of the popular Bravo reality series.
Emmett, a longtime producer whose credits include “Midnight in the Switchgrass” and “The Irishman,” gained fame when he began appearing on “Vanderpump Rules” in 2019 alongside Kent, who was his fiancé at the time. In 2021, before splitting up, the couple welcomed their first child together. They are currently embroiled in a custody dispute.
Emmett did not respond to a request for comment from Variety. He gave a statement to the New York Post published May 16 asserting that “The Randall Scandal” was “biased” against him from the start.
“I declined to participate because it very quickly became apparent to me the film was going to be as biased, if not more so, than the article on which it was based,” Emmett said a statement, according to the Post.
While Kent did not participate in the docu, her mother, Lisa Burningham, and her brother, Eason Burningham, were interviewed. They describe never-before-told claims of Emmett’s alleged mistreatment of Kent, including odd behavior during the birth of their daughter and Kent’s departure from their shared home.
In addition to her mother and brother, several of Emmett’s former assistants are interviewed in the doc alongside industry vets including television writer, Teresa Huang and Alicia Haverland, who served as prop master on “Midnight in the Switchgrass,” which starred Bruce Willis.
“When we started [writing the story] we didn’t realize just how much we would find when it came to Randall,” says James. “The interest in the story was quite a ‘Whoa’ moment because we thought it was going to be an impactful story, but we really didn’t predict how much it was going to take off.”
The docu details Emmett’s alleged verbal abuse and workplace harassment towards a string of assistants as well as his alleged irritation over Willis’ declining mental acuity during the filming of “Midnight in the Switchgrass.” (Emmett denies all allegations in the doc.)
When Kaufman and James found out about the Willis allegations in 2022, members of the outlet’s fledgling documentary arm connected with both reporters.
“That was an initial discovery,” says L.A. Times Studios executive producer Leslie Lindsey. “At that point we began working together and collaborating internally because we could see the potential for the story to become a documentary.”
After the article was published nearly a year ago, ABC News Studios reached out to L.A. Times Studios about making the “The Randall Scandal.”
“One of our core strategies is to tell stories that are in the zeitgeist with the journalistic rigor that we apply to everything that we do.” says head of ABC News Studios, Mike Kelley. “This just felt like one of those stories that fit that strategy.”
While “The Randall Scandal” marks the first collaboration between L.A. Times Studios and ABC News Studios, the doc is one of several Bravo-based nonfiction films that ABC News Studios released on Hulu. In June 2021 they released “The Housewife and the Hustler” — about the legal problems of Erika “Jayne” Girardi, of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and her estranged husband, one-time power lawyer Tom Girardi. That was followed by the November 2022 release of “The Housewife and the Shah Shocker,” about “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah who was accused of fraud and money laundering and is currently in jail after pleading guilty.
In another comment to the New York Post, Emmett called the film “a cheap attempt to capitalize on the current ‘Vanderpump Rules’ fever.”
But Victoria Thompson, executive producer for ABC News Studios says that the plan was always to release the documentary in May 2023.
“We were in production before Scandoval took the world by storm,” says Thompson.
Kaufman adds, “my understanding was that ABC and Hulu thought it would be pertinent to tie it in at some point when the show was on because people would be watching the show, but they also didn’t know that Scandoval was coming.”
Before the #Scandoval became a tabloid sensation, the L.A. Times article was a conversation point in the latest season of “Vanderpump Rules.” But when the #Scandoval hit, any mention of Emmett was overshadowed by the cheating scandal.
“What surprised me watching this season of ‘Vanderpump Rules’ was how the two storylines were handled and, to some extent, the amount of attention Scandoval has gotten,” says Kaufman. “Scandoval is captivating because it involves so many cast members — but it’s a cheating scandal, which is pretty common on “Vanderpump Rules.” Randall Emmett has been accused of cheating and many things that are more serious, including sexual misconduct, abuse and harassment of his employees, financial impropriety – all documented in numerous lawsuits.”
Watch an exclusive clip below:
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