Bravo Accused of Ripping Off ‘Real Housewives’ Producers in $5 Million Lawsuit

Producers claim they were deceitfully cut out of franchise after helping to create it

Bravo’s popular-if-controversial “Real Housewives” reality TV franchise is wrapped up in yet another conflict — this time, in the legal system.

Bravo and former “Real Housewives of Orange County” executive producer Scott Dunlop have been hit with a lawsuit by former “Real Housewives of Orange County” executive producers Patrick Moses and Kevin Kaufman, who claim that they were deceitfully ousted from the show and bilked out of millions of dollars after helping to create the show and, thus, the franchise.

“This is a case about the real story behind the ‘Real Housewives’ — a case of textbook fraud and self-dealing,” the lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court on Wednesday, reads, adding that Dunlop, with Bravo’s help, “repeatedly lied to his business partners … in order to take for himself the fruits of their joint labor.”

According to the suit, Dunlop, Moses and Kaufman conceived of the show “Behind the Gates,” revolving around Dunlop’s Orange County  neighborhood of Coto de Caza. “Behind the Gates,” and agreed that they would “share all revenue that the Program ever generated — specifically including producer fees — on ‘an equal, one-third basis.'”

“Behind the Gates” eventually became “Real Housewives of Orange County,” the lawsuit says, and the trio were on their way to reality TV mega-success. However, Moses and Kaufman claim, all that changed as “Real Housewives of Orange County” prepared to go into production on its second season, and Bravo requested a meeting with Dunlop alone.

The lawsuit claims that Bravo and Dunlop told the plaintiffs that their production entity, Ventana, was being replaced by “a large Los Angeles-based production company for cost reasons” and that Dunlop would be kept on as a “local fixer” for a modest fee of a few thousand dollars. In reality, Moses and Kaufman claim, Dunlop was made executive producer, and the pair were cut out of the franchise.

Bravo had no comment for TheWrap on the lawsuit.

Alleging breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, civil conspiracy and other charges, Moses and Kaufman are seeking damages in an amount to be determined at trial, “but in no event less than $5 million.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.