A 21st generation visionary, Mr. Alex Baskin, VP of Evolution Media and Producer
Updated: Nov 27, 2017
A 21st generation visionary, Mr. Alex Baskin, VP of Evolution Media and Producer extraordinaire behind the scenes of the Bravo Reality Hit Show “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”
By Keith Chagall, Pop Music/Film/TV Editor Century City News
Summer 2017 ©2017 Century City news/ STM Inc. all rights reserved
There are close to 12 million viewers that have happily indulged for seven seasons in the guilty pleasures of relishing the adventures of the beautiful Beverly Hills glamour dramarama filled lives, of the cast members that make up RHOB. The Queen of the show from day one, which is heading to its eighth season this fall, is the stunning and brilliant Lisa Vanderpump.
In our continuing series interviewing movers and shakers in the entertainment industry, Century City News sat down with Alex Baskin, Vice President of Evolution Media to discuss this reality world-wide phenomenon that has entered our collective social media, how it started and what’s on the horizon for this brilliant television executive..
CCN: How did your journey begin in the early years and how did you make this beautiful path yours?
AB: Well I think like a lot of people I would say that my path was an accidental one, so it makes sense in retrospect but at the time I didn’t know what I was about to embark on. My Dad was a television writer originally from Minneapolis and moved out to LA because he had this wild notion to write for sitcoms. So I grew up here and after my senior year in high School, I interned at MTV, about 20 years ago. While I was there I learned a lot and got excited by the business and I liked the fact that MTV was doing non scripted programming, and had a really fast metabolism. So people would go in and pitch an idea, the network would be interested in it and you could produce it and get it on air much faster that scripted television. Through the course of that, I pitched MTV and sold one of my own projects did the pilot and it was there that I met Evolution, because I needed to partner up with an established production company. MTV went with another company but the connection was made with Doug Ross at Evolution, who is now my business partner to this day. I then went to law school to figure out what direction I wanted to go in, focusing on corporate law. I did internships during the summer and after law school I called Doug and I said do you remember me from all those years ago and you thought there was maybe some potential in me at the time and wanted to know if I would work for you. Well do you still have a job open for me? So Doug made room for me and I have been at Evolution ever since.
CCN: So you found a home where you could blossom?
AB: It’s the one place where I could work at entertainment and I’ve been treated really well, and we’ve had a great run for 11 and half years. Doug and I work very much together on everything and it’s been great to have a comrade in arms because it’s a tough business.
CCN: You guys seem to have a good mind meld together.
AB: We do. We certainly don’t agree on everything but that’s really productive. It’s a really respectful tension and ultimately we are on the same team as we both want the company to succeed.
CCN: Have you ever entertained doing film projects?
AB: Would love that. It would be a lot of fun. We are interested in doing more on the horizon but at the same time mining and taking advantage of what we do now and seeing where this run takes us. I would love to see one of our films open. I think about that when I go to see movies. The same principles apply, where when you are passionate about something creatively and if you’re willing to shepherd it through and experience all the rejection you get along the way , and navigate all those times in the process where it looks like it’s going to fail and you’re going to fall on your ass, then you can do it. You basically have to apply everything you’ve learned to new circumstances. I always say let’s make some new mistakes. Every day you learn something new and you grow.
CCN: What is the story of how you came to be associated with RHOB?
AB: Well Bravo is a really smart network and had everything to do with it along with Andy Cohen. We had started with The Real Housewives of Orange County and we were brought on to kind of take it over starting with the second season. At the time it was modest in the ratings but the network really believed in it. After the Orange county show started to become a hit, and along with the New York, New Jersey and Atlanta shows which also premiered to great success, the network had approached and said you know how you guys have always wanted to do RHOB, let’s see if you can crack that in casting. So we developed it and found some great women. Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards were there from the beginning, and it’s been quite a run since then. Beverly Hills in many ways captures the viewer’s imagination, and is internationally known. It is something that conjures up an image in your mind, and that’s a large part of what the show is.
CCN: Like a modern day Dynasty but real and fans love those spectacular location shots. It is truly brilliant.
AB: Well thank you. RHOB is going into its eighth successful season. We are really proud of the fact that creatively its really in a strong place and it’s been refreshed but at the same time through Lisa and Kyle, there is an attachment to the original cast and it feels like it’s the same franchise but it has evolved. They are fun dynamic really cool women.
CCN: Lisa has spun off another successful reality show, “ Vanderpump Rules” and Kyle has a show coming out through Paramount and it is amazing to see them evolve as well. I love the strong American women vibe that I know inspires women everywhere. How does the show come about each week?
AB: Well I think the challenge and the fun of doing unscripted shows is you can’t script out what’s going to happen. It is one of the misconceptions that people have about the business. Truly on a show like housewives, we really don’t know. I always say we are not as creative as people give us credit for because we can’t imagine some of the stuff that people are going to end up doing in real life, and in the best possible sense, the cast members wouldn’t listen to us anyway. These are strong powerful women and if you think you can tell them where to go and what to do, you have another thing coming. So what we do is we may have some sense of what’s going on in their lives, and we have to anticipate that and factor that into our calendar. But the story that happens happens through the women and it happens through the real relationships that unfold in front of our eyes.
CCN: So the story arc occurs organically and you can continue the story line and revisit some of the earlier episodes.
AB: That’s right. Because if you would have asked me, what would have happened on any particular season, I couldn’t have answered. And that’s one of the things that people are really surprised to hear. We have to be brave enough to let the women dictate the story for us. And at this point they have always delivered for us. It’s a partnership of trust. It’s hard for them too. You are talking about people that are in control in every other aspect of their lives and yet when it comes to the show we basically tell them “We need you to be yourselves and to live out loud and make a great show for us, and by the way everything you say and do will be used against you. And it’s really hard but at the same time the alchemy of that is a great show.
CCN: Some of the locations on the episodes, in Europe or wherever, do they come up with the ideas?
AB: Absolutely. You start with everything they want to do in their lives. We always tell them, challenge us. And push us and let us catch up to you. We have a fantastic production management team that are the unsung heroes because they are the ones that hear of a trip the cast wishes to do at the last minute and they have to figure out how to do that and adhere to the rules and permissions that are part of our operations. It’s a big production and there are certain production values that we aim to maintain. And the crew puts much more into it than is required, so we are fortunate to have them.
CCN: Thank you so very much Alex. It is apparent that this army of brilliant workers and gorgeous intelligent cast members are fortunate to have great Generals like you and Doug to keep it all a well-oiled machine that continues to amaze. Thank you Evolution Media for the fabulous entertainment you have provided us all, especially during these unprecedented stressful times we are living in. It is a much welcomed relief to indulge watching your programming, like tasting a deliciously outrageous chocolate dessert from Lisa’s restaurant, Villa Blanca, where you can eat all you wish without the weight gain. Delish!!!!