The “Vanderpump Rules” main title sequence is among the most iconic openings on TV, often replicated by fans of the Bravo show, including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence. Season 10 has a total revamp of the opening credits, and we spoke to Lisa Vanderpump herself about how the new intro (which you can watch above) came about.
“I loved our original titles,” Vanderpump — the eponymous star of the show — told TheWrap ahead of the Season 10 premiere. “I felt last year that we got stuck in a little bit of a rut [due to COVID restrictions during filming). But I think this year, everything changed.”
One of those changes took place behind the scenes. Longtime co-executive producer Jeremiah Smith took over as showrunner from Bill Langworthy. And although Smith had been on the show since Season 1, he had some fresh ideas of his own.
“When the opening sequence was originally conceived back in 2011 or 2012, the idea was to bring people into this world of SUR restaurant. In Season 1, so much of each episode was at SUR,” Smith recalls. “This year when I started, one of the things Bravo said on one of our first calls was, ‘Hey, we’d love to hear any ideas for creative for main titles.'”
“I was rolling it around in the back of my mind thinking, ‘What can we do? What can we do?’ And literally one night I was trying to go to sleep and it just hit me all of a sudden. I jolted awake, grabbed my phone, opened my Notes app, and I wrote out shot-for-shot what is now the new main titles. And that’s literally how it happened. The next day, I went into the office, and I was like, ‘This is probably a horrible idea. We probably can’t pull this off logistically. But here’s the idea.’ And people were like, ‘Okay, I kind of like that.’ And then we pitched it to Bravo. And they said that they liked it.”
Smith’s concept takes the main titles out of SUR, opening instead at Schwartz & Sandy’s — the Hollywood bar owned by castmembers Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval. It then zooms to TomTom, their eponymous bar in West Hollywood with Ariana Madix, Lala Kent and Katie Maloney. The camera continues east, flying past PUMP restaurant and around the corner of Robertson Blvd to SUR, where Scheana Shay, James Kennedy and Raquel Leviss are. Finally, it cuts to a shot of Vanderpump herself, sitting in the spot where it all started.
TheWrap’s Lawrence Yee caught up with Smith, Vanderpump, and original cast members Sandoval, Maloney and Shay to discuss how the new intro came together.
How did you figure out who went in which shot? For example, Tom Sandoval and Ariana have always been paired, since they were a couple. Likewise with Tom Schwartz and Katie, though they announced they were divorcing after Season 9.
Smith: The universe that the show exists in has gone from one restaurant to four. I wanted the main titles to show off the whole “Vanderverse,” as I call it. I wanted to include Schwartz and Sandy’s, TomTom, and SUR. Then I thought which cast belongs in what location? Some of them are obvious, like Tom and Tom in Schwartz and Sandy’s. I still want to finish on Lisa at SUR because she’s the finale. Raquel works at SUR, makes sense to have her there. James deejays at SUR, makes sense to have him there. Then I filled in the rest. Ariana and Katie and TomTom made sense because they were the Tom’s partners. And they’re friends with Lala. So we put Lala in there. We started with the locations and then filled in which cast would be where.
Sandoval: I am honored [that the opening now starts at Schwartz & Sandy’s]. It was really cool to see Schwartz and me as bar owners.
Maloney: I questioned, “Okay, well, where do I fit in?” Obviously, I’m not gonna be at SUR. And not at Schwartz & Sandy’s. Some people might question why I’m at TomTom. But you know, it’s part of this world. Ariana is one of my good friends and my business partner, and Lala is my girl. I loved that it was kind of this “girl moment.” Three hot girls. What more can you ask?
Shay: I’ve said I would still be happy to be a part of SUR if there was more like a managerial role. I would be down. I love that restaurant; that restaurant has brought so much opportunity into all of our lives. So I have nothing against SUR; it was just the SUR dress. The fact that I get to sit at the bar at SUR and have my cocktail and not be in a SUR dress — I was all about it. I think they paired us all together perfectly.
How was the actual production different?
Smith: So we shot this whole thing on a drone, an FPV (first person viewer) drone. When you see those people that put on the big VR goggles and they’re like flying with joysticks, that’s what we did. I really wanted it to feel like we were flying through an open restaurant and have things crossing the frame and flying right next to people’s heads. So we shot it on a drone the size of a shoebox lid. And it was very different from the previous main titles because we shot that on a very large, very complicated, super slow-motion camera. There was a massive team of grip and electric because they lit the set up like a Christmas tree. You have to light it so bright for slow motion otherwise the exposure is too dark. We couldn’t have a single production body on set or in the restaurant so we had to get it set [beforehand]. And then we hide behind and just watched on a tiny little monitor. In some ways, it was more complicated because it was three locations instead of one. It was flying drones in real-time, so a lot of things had to go right for the take to work. But a lot in some ways it was simpler because we were able to scale the crew way down.
Some of the action was scaled down a bit. We no longer see droplets flying off martini glasses, for example.
Smith: So those really beautiful visuals are because of the camera that we used to shoot it on. It takes a lot of work to get those types of shots. But if you watch back, the camera never moved. The camera was always stationary; the cast was moving. And my idea was to invert that. So now the movement was going to happen in the camera, and the cast movement was more subtle. We gave them each moves: Tom and Tom are just cheersing, Katie takes a champagne bottle and puts it in a glass of ice, Ariana is turning a little bit. The moves from the cast are more subtle, but the moves in the camera are sweeping and dramatic.
Sandoval: I’ve normally had the most complex action. I was flipping a bottle in the first one. That was really hard to do — you had to do it and catch it and not flinch or blink. Another time I had to light a fire. We didn’t have to do anything [this time]. We just had to stand there and look good. And so it was easier for us. I know, production on that day was stressed because they were flying a drone around and it’s not the easiest thing to maneuver through all those spaces.
Maloney: It was not a huge, long day, which was very nice. I wondered if it was going to be more difficult or intricate because we were using a flying camera. What is the choreography gonna be here? But they really mapped it out and had it down pat already; we just got in our place. They had [the drone] come around the corner and it kind of holds there before flying off. It’s so tiny that you’re like, “Where do I look like? What’s my eyeline here?” But yeah, it was, it was a pretty quick day.
Shay: I was excited. Like, “Which way am I going to whip my hair this time? Do I have flower petals or butterflies coming off the tray?” But when I heard we were going to be doing drone shots, I was like, “This is what the show needs. It needs a fresh look.”
Did you ever think about changing the theme song, Raise Your Glass by Memoir?
Smith: We did talk about maybe doing a re-recording of the song, but the more we talked about it and listened — that song is the show right? When you hear that song, you immediately know what show is on TV. You immediately know what what what you’re in for. So we decided to keep that and just change up the visuals. I love the song.
Vanderpump: We had to keep the song. When you hear it, you know we’re on. You’ve seen John Legend sing it!
Maloney: The song itself is it’s very iconic, and I know people love it.
One thing that’s gone is the Miranda Priestly boss move where Lisa comes through the double doors and tosses her purse aside.
Smith: When you talk to Lisa, she’ll probably say that she would have preferred to be standing and doing something a little more active. In my mind, I had her just sitting down, surrounded by beautiful flowers and her dog in this majestic pose with a glass of rose in her hand.
Vanderpump: My main focus was not getting the drone caught in my hair. I didn’t want to throw anything! I just wanted to sit there and hope that that thing did take the edge off my nose.
Maloney: Lisa is still very much involved in our lives, taking on that mentor role and being less of a boss. So I think that reflected; it’s not so much here she comes down to lay down the law, but she’s still this presence and this is still her kingdom.
Another thing that’s gone is that giant group shot at the end.
Smith: So that was a choice that I made and Bravo supported. I wanted to get rid of the group tableau shot that was originally inspired by the SUR website. Back in the day if you went on the site, they had these elaborate photo shoots with Lisa posing and the staff. And it just started to feel like something the show isn’t anymore.
Vanderpump: I’ll always lament [not having that shot]. Giggy [Lisa’s dog] used to sit on my lap and then Giggy died, and then Puffy sat there. It’s just a sign of the times, it’s 10 years.
Maloney: We just stuck to this thing for so long. I’m like, “You know what? No more. We don’t need that shit.” So like, I just feel like this is the new “Vanderpump Rules.” And I’m so into it.
Sandoval: It is a cool shot, but it really sucks. You gotta get the dog to look and it really sucks placing us. It takes so long and you’re sweating. You’re uncomfortable. There was one time when I had to lean back and I couldn’t lean back on anything. So I was literally in a sit-up position and my abs were shaking. I hated doing that shot so we’re all relieved.
Shay: I like that they’ve kept it smaller in the opening credits. They’re focusing on the characters whose story they’re following the most. And the group shot at the end was unnecessary. There were too many people. It took forever to film. It was the most annoying part of that day. So I don’t really miss it. I do wish you saw [my husband] Brock in it. He was in it last year and then not this year, but it was also nice not having certain people in it this year who were in it last year.
Now, the opening ends with an overhead shot of Los Angeles.
Smith: Again, I wanted to speak to the show really breaking out and existing in a bigger universe. So instead of a shot of the cast now we show a big aerial of the city, right as the sun’s going down. The sun’s going down, the cast is coming out and “Vanderpump Rules” is starting. It was more about the expansion of the universe instead of, “Oh, they’re all at Sur.” Now, we’re everywhere. Now we’re all over Los Angeles.
Vanderpump: It feels very now. And I think that’s what “Vanderpump Rules” has always been very cognizant of, which is keeping up with the times. And I think it does a good job of that for sure.
“Vanderpump Rules” Season 10 premieres Feb. 8 on Bravo.