20 Fascinating Behind-The-Scenes Facts, Stories, And Secrets From The Making Of The Kardashian Reality TV Empire

by Ricardo Johnson

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Let's visit the KCU (Kardashian Cinematic Universe).

1. Ryan Seacrest told Haute Living that his original inspiration for a reality show based around the antics of one family was The Osbournes, the early 2000s MTV show about Ozzy Osbourne, his family, and their profanity-friendly home life.

MTV / Courtesy Everett Collection

And in an oral history of Keeping Up with the Kardashians published in the L.A. Times, Seacrest said that he was "truly obsessed" with The Osbournes, and believed it to be "new and different and groundbreaking television."

MTV / Courtesy Everett Collection

2. Once the Kardashians got on his radar as potential candidates, Seacrest sent one of his employees to film one of their family barbecues to get a sense of how interesting they'd be to watch.

E! Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

Seacrest told Haute Living, "I remember perfectly: he called me from their house Sunday afternoon and said, ‘It’s absolutely golden; you’re going to die when you see this tape. They’re so funny, they’re so fun, there is so much love in this family and they’re so chaotic — they throw each other in the pool!’ We watched it and rushed the tape to E! immediately, and that was the beginning."

Jeff Vespa / WireImage / via Getty

3. Eliot Goldberg, a senior vice president at Ryan Seacrest Productions, told the L.A. Times that after his first meeting with the Kardashian family, Kris came up to him and said, "Eliot, it was so great to meet you and I’m so excited to do this show with you and Ryan, and it’ll be fantastic. And let me just tell you something: I want you to know that if you do this show with us, shit happens to us. Shit always happens to us. And if we do this show, I promise you shit will happen."

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Goldberg said these were among "the most prophetic words that have ever been uttered to me in my life."

Christopher Polk / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

4. After that meeting, which was attended by Kris, Caitlyn, Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney, along with network and production executives, it was decided that the Kardashians had potential. Seacrest told the L.A. Times that E! gave them around $12,000 to put together a sizzle reel, a compilation of footage that they could use to pitch the show. He added, "It was nothing to make this tape."

E! Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

5. At first, E! passed on the pitch, and Seacrest was going to try selling it to Bravo, instead. Ted Harbert, the then-CEO of E!, told The Hollywood Reporter that after Seacrest asked him to watch a tape of the family eating dinner, he changed his mind.

E! / Via youtube.com

(This is not a still from that particular tape.) 

Harbert recalled, "There was conflict, sniping, and resolution. I call it, 'Fight, fight, fight. Love, love, love.' I came in the next day and said I wanted to do it."

6. When the show got the green light, Kris told her family — and now, castmates — that in order for it to work, they needed to prioritize authenticity, even when it meant broadcasting normally private moments to the world.

Seacrest told The Hollywood Reporter that Kris said at one point, "In order for this to work, yes, there’s a glitz and glamour, but there’s got to be honesty and vulnerability." Kris herself recalled telling her family, "If we’re going to do this, we have to be all in. We have to really be who we are."

7. It took a while to come up with the perfect title. Possible candidates included The Kardashians: Krazy With a K, Living Kardashian, and Krazy Kardashians.

Jeffrey Mayer / WireImage / via Getty

Ironically, executive producer, Farnaz Farjam, came up with the title...by not coming up with any titles. During one meeting, each producer was supposed to present a list of possible titles. Farjam told The Hollywood Reporter, "When it was my turn I had to confess I didn’t have a list. I made a factual statement that I was 'too busy keeping up with the Kardashians.'"

Oxygen Media / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

It was the clear winner. Farjam said, "I came up with it on accident because I was living it."

Oxygen Media / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

8. While the Kardashians were filmed inside their actual homes, the exterior shots used in the show were of different, Kardashian-unaffiliated houses. According to ABC News, Kim told fans that they used these exterior shots for "security purposes."


9. According to a New York Times Magazine profile of Kris, her hair and makeup was professionally done on the days she filmed KUWTK. This routine took an hour to complete.

10. The same profile noted that a "pile of nondisclosure agreements" for visitors to sign sits near the entrance to Kris's home, near a sign reading, "What we say here, what we see here, let it stay here, when we leave here."

Jeff Gentner / Getty Images

11. During an appearance on ABC News, Kris revealed that the doorbell to her home plays the theme song from the KUWTK opening credits.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment UK / Via youtube.com

12. Kourtney told The Hollywood Reporter that the "hardest episode to film" for her was her breakup with Scott Disick.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Dior Men

She said, "I had a lot of anxiety about it, and finally said let’s just get this over with. I sat down and started crying. You go through something, and then you move past it. Then you do your interview, and get all riled up again. And then you see the episode, and start seeing all these comments."

NBC / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

13. Kim said that the show initially "had no intention of showing" her and Kanye West's wedding, but that they "loved the footage so much" that they decided they couldn't waste it.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for ULTA Beauty / KKW Beauty

Kim recalled, "It was shot with only iPhones and my assistant on a handycam. She was literally standing on top of a castle and freezing, because we knew we wanted to capture this gorgeous walk from up above. People were yelling at her like, 'You can’t film up there!'"

Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images for The Girls' Lounge

14. In a retrospective interview with Vogue, Kim said that the "biggest mystery" from the 20 seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was "what happened to our voices," since they "have completely different voices" now than they did at the beginning of the show's run.

Jason Merritt / FilmMagic / via Getty

15. Kim told The Hollywood Reporter that they decided to come back to reality TV for The Kardashians for a very simple reason: They missed filming.

Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

Kim said, "We wanted to do something different, but right away we were like, ‘We miss this. Who were we kidding, we should be doing this.’ We got a year off from filming, and I think that was really beneficial for our souls just to really soak it up. But the filming this time is different, and I just love it."

Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

16. Farjam told Variety that as the show got more popular, the way the family travelled got proportionally fancier.

Denise Truscello / WireImage / via Getty

Farjam explained that at the beginning, "Travel was coach for most and business class was only for Caitlyn and Kris." When Season 4 rolled around, the family "renegotiated" to everyone "fly[ing] business or better." Private jets came into play around Season 7 or 8, though "once in a blue moon," a member of the family would fly first class.

Denise Truscello / WireImage / via Getty

17. Farjam said that in Season 7, the show's production budget increased to accommodate the 24/7 security the cast now needed.

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Yeezy Season 3

Childcare was another significant expense for the production. Farjam explained, "Eventually, to hold everyone’s attention, we had to make sure that their nannies were there every day because kids distract you all the time. The lifestyle changed. Their whole lives evolved. You can just see it."

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for ABA

18. Farjam revealed that Kendall didn't allow her boyfriends to be filmed until after they'd celebrated their one year anniversary.

Don Arnold / WireImage / via Getty

She explained, "Kendall always had this rule that she has to be with someone for at least a year before she even would bring them into the series. It was so funny because her last boyfriend — not this one, but the one before — they almost made it to a year and I was going to make her show him, and then they broke up. I was like, ‘Of course! No!'”

Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

Kendall told The Hollywood Reporter, "The beauty of having older sisters is you learn so many lessons from them. I’ve seen how their relationships have played out on TV so I learned that lesson. I I feel like it’s just better to keep it more private."

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images for amfAR

19. Field producer, Cesar Castillo, told Entertainment Weekly that he "always had a bag packed" in case he needed to follow the family on their adventures across the country or world. He added, "I went on vacation and packed extra clothes in my bag, just in case they needed me to go somewhere in the middle of my vacation, which usually happened."

20. And finally: Despite the whole "being summoned at the drop of a (presumably designer) hat" thing, the crew got some excellent perks. Lighting supervisor, Landon Hosto, told Entertainment Weekly that the crew got to stay at the same luxurious hotels as the family themselves since they always needed to be close by and ready to film.

He said, "Being with them, we didn't stay at the Motel 8. Because production wanted to be close to them, they didn't want to lose any time getting the crew from the cheap hotels to the rich hotels, so you had to stay at the rich hotels."

Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

And Sele Leota, a senior supervising story producer, said that when the family was in Bali, it was easiest for the production to travel using helicopters. He said, "I remember thinking, 'I just feel like I'm taking an Uber.' I got really comfortable with it. I know that sounds bizarre."

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