Real Housewives of Auckland: PR and lawyers involved
When lawyers were called in ahead of this week's racially charged episode of The Real Housewives of Auckland, it wasn't the first time footage from the reality programme was challenged.
Investment banker Michael Lorimer and his wife Julia Sloane sought legal representation in their bid to get an incident in which Sloane calls her co-star Michelle Blanchard a "boat n....." in the sixth episode downplayed.
Lorimer and Sloane have also hired one of the public relations industry's heaviest hitters, Deborah Pead of Pead PR, to defend their image. Pead has gagged her new clients from speaking to media.
Bravo, which screens the programme, have refused to remove the incident – around which the episode revolves – and it goes to air tomorrow night, sure to be a ratings winner due to the advance publicity.
Sloane and Lorimer also had reservations about episode four of the programme, filmed partly at their Matakana vineyard. In that episode, which screened on September 7, Sloane brings out a bag of sex toys while entertaining her co-stars. Among other items, she holds out Lorimer's cock ring for the women to examine.
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Anne Batley Burton comments: "God, I hope it's been sterilised. What's the matter with her?"
It is understood that Sloane asked for amendments to be made to the episode and some footage was cut just days before it aired on Bravo.
Amid the furore, the couple have hired Pead to represent them.
Pead sent Stuff Sloane's apology for the derogatory comment, which happened while the women were on holiday in Port Douglas, but said Sloane would "not say anything further than what is in the apology".
In her apology, Sloane refers to the incident as "off-camera and off-the-cuff".
"I wasn't thinking, I made a mistake and I have apologised to Michelle for my remark," said Sloane, who is understood to be distressed by the fallout and how it has been handled.
The racial insult was uttered off camera but was caught on microphone. Then the women were filmed speaking about it at length.
"There is no excuse for using offensive words under any circumstances and I have learned from this foolish mistake," said Sloane.
There is some confusion as to what "boat n....." even means. Sloane described it as an old boating term. Blanchard, of English and Jamaican heritage, took it to be a racist slur, as did the other women present.
Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy also found it racist saying: "I do not think that ignorant, overt racist behaviour is part of Kiwi culture so we all need to call it out when it rears its very ugly head. People like Julia need to understand that using words like that is not how we roll here. That is not us."
The Urban Dictionary defines "boat n....." as "middle-class white girls (usually) who go crewing on a voluntary (usually) basis on larger cruising or racing yachts on their gap year. Occasionally in the hope of meeting a male (usually) crewman from a middle class background and income bracket for like-minded travel, fun and sex".