Hate 'em or love 'em (or love to hate 'em... or hate to love 'em), the Kardashian-Jenner family has had a profound impact across many domains, including consumer habits, influencer culture, and more broadly, what it means to be a celebrity in this day and age. For the past 10 years, the blended family has taken us through their ups and downs on Keeping Up and related franchises — and, of course, have relentlessly hawked products while doing so. It's for this reason that The Hollywood Reporter decided to sit down with the KarJenner women (Caitlyn, who is canceled, excluded) to reflect on a decade that, for better or worse, they have helped define for a piece entitled "The Kardashian Decade: How a Sex Tape Led to a Billion-Dollar Brand."
The first family of television, along with E! executives, provided an oral history of Keeping Up that has juicy tidbits that would surprise even the most well-versed KUWTK historians. The following are revelations of particular interest:
Regarding the assertion Caitlyn made in Secrets of My Life that she initially pitched KUWTK
Kris: It's so absurd. I'm not sure what the motivation was for her to say something like that. Maybe somebody should remind her that it's called Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
On how the name of the show came about
Farnaz Farjam (current programming VP, Bunim/Murray): We all had been tasked with coming to the meeting with some title ideas, and 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."
On the origins of influencer culture
Brian Dow (former agent for the Kardashians): Kim sort of paved the way for the economic structure of native influencer marketing. Before the rise of the common man YouTuber in their bedroom, you had people like her. She was the one who kicked down the door and got the brands to spend money in that area because she showed success. Brands noticed that when when you would pay a celebrity to send out a branded tweet, they were getting more click-throughs for the dollar, so it made more monetary sense. That's why that revolution started.
On Kim's initial embrace from the fashion industry
Dow: When Kim did the cover of CR [Fashion Book in 2013], that's when she was anointed. It's Carine Roitfeld's magazine, Karl Lagerfeld shot it and Riccardo Tisci art-directed. Fashion washes away all sins. That's when she went next-level.
Slight Paris Hilton shade
Ted Harbert (then-CEO of E! Networks): Kris deserves the credit for turning it into an empire. Doing the show is a pain in the neck for them, but that TV presence provides the basis for many other products. When somebody leaves the limelight a network provides, it goes away. God bless her, Paris Hilton is a fantastic DJ in Ibiza.
On the real reason behind Khloe & Lamar
Khloe: I never wanted to do Khloe & Lamar [which ran for two seasons in 2011 and 2012]; my ex-husband did. He sold it to E!, and I let it happen because I wanted him to be happy. I was the one who canceled it. It was way too much. [Odom was hospitalized in 2015 after being found unconscious at a Nevada brothel. The couple divorced in 2016.]
On her failed marriage to Kris Humphries
Kim: There was all this attention on the wedding, and I thought maybe it was just the pressure of the show giving me this anxiety. My friends told me I just had cold feet, but even the producers said, "You don't seem happy. You don't have to go through with this." The night before, my mom pulled me aside, off camera, and was like, "This isn't it for you. Why don't you go away and I'll handle it?" I felt like, if I pulled out now, everyone's going to think I just did it for the show. Then afterwards, people were saying, "You have to stay married for a year," but I physically couldn't do it. When I made the decision [to divorce], everyone said it was made up for the show. Everyone really wanted to take me down.
On the most difficult scenes to film
Kim: The most difficult thing [to film] was probably Caitlyn's transition and just seeing my mom and Khloe having such a hard time. We never really edited content before, but we did edit a bit of Khloe's reaction just because she was so upset.
On why we won't see Kendall's Pepsi reaction
Kim: We're not perfect, but you see these things in the media, like Kendall and [her Pepsi ad that was accused of trivializing Black Lives Matter], where I see her at home crying, but in the media she looks another way because she's not addressing it. I'm just like, "This is wrong. You need to speak up." She was like, "I don't ever want to show that footage of me crying." She was trying to not make excuses or be dramatic, but that was what she was going through at the time.
Read the interview in its entirety here.
(Photo: Miller Mobley for The Hollywood Reporter, August 2017)
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