Real Housewives of Auckland racial slur affects advertisers
Real Housewives of Auckland star Michelle Blanchard has opened up about a racial slur that was used against her on an upcoming episode.
The incident has seen the lawyers called in and prompted Bravo to axe any advertising during Tuesday's episode.
The comment, which was recorded as the women sailed on a luxury yacht in Australia's Port Douglas, involves Housewives star Julia Sloane referring to fellow housewife Michelle Blanchard as a "boat n.....".
Bravo said the slur would be "bleeped out" to adhere to Broadcasting Standards Authority regulations when it screens, but insisted the incident was a major point in the show's narrative.
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Sloane is pakeha and Blanchard is English with Jamaican ancestry on her mother's side.
Blanchard, who is currently on holiday in the US, has said she was "absolutely shocked" following the remark, The Spinoff reports.
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It took a while to sink in," she said.
"It came out of her mouth. So she needs to own it. Don't blame it on anybody else or make it out to be a lighthearted comment that you jokingly use, because you know what? It is not a lighthearted comment. It's an offensive comment."
Sloane, who it is understood backtracks from her comment immediately on the show, has sought representation from an Auckland-based PR company.
"I wasn't thinking. I made a mistake and I have apologised to Michelle for my remark," she said in a statement.
"There is no excuse for using offensive words under any circumstances and I have learned from this foolish mistake.
"I have put this distressing experience behind me and am moving on."
Sloane's husband, Michael Lorimer, said the remark was taken out of context to "make Julia look bad", and that the couple had spoken to lawyers in an attempt to have the episode "amended", NZME reported.
But Bravo was sticking to its guns about airing the incident.
Spokeswomen at Bravo and Mediaworks said they could not comment officially as Acumen Republic was handling this specific incident for Bravo.
Acumen Republic's Adelle Keely said Bravo were taking the "deeply regrettable incident" very seriously.
"Bravo has given much consideration to ensuring the events are accurately represented, in order that the context of the remark and subsequent events, can be fully understood.
"While the nature of Bravo programming is unscripted, it is a deeply regrettable incident which we are endeavouring to deal with in a responsible manner."
They added that Bravo had made the decision not to run any advertising during the episode in question.
"We understand that comments of an intolerant or controversial nature are concerning to advertisers, as such made the decision to run the premiere episode commercial free."
Advertisers who were booked into the programme had been offered alternative placements in Bravo schedule.
After last week's episode, in which Sloane demanded she deserved the best villa bedroom over Blanchard and Kirkpatrick because she was blonde, the incident was hinted at in the "next episode" teaser.
It is understood that, off camera but recorded on a microphone, Sloane said to Kirkpatrick, "Gilda! Don't let Michelle be your boat n*****!", Spinoff reports.
Sloane then said in a reaction interview: "It's an old boating term. I should never have said it."
Blanchard is consoled by Kirkpatrick, who is in tears about the incident herself.
"In England, or New Zealand for 18 years, no one's ever called me that," Blanchard says.
Blanchard, who admitted to The Spinoff to thinking very hard before she spoke on the show, said she hopes people who watch the episode realise that using that term is not acceptable.
"It's not a cool term to use. And I don't want people to think that."
The Human Rights Commission, which Bravo says is aware of the episode and the nature of the content, has been contacted for comment.
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