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Winning Time Finale Magic Johnson Lakers Max Borenstein Kareem & Jerry West – Deadline

Tonight’s tenth and final episode of HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty begins with the kind of adversity the team and owner Jerry Buss have overcome all through this charmed ’79-’80 NBA season. In the final moments of Game 5 of the finals, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar launches his patented sky hook, only to land wrong and severely sprain his ankle. The HOF center, dominant to this point, shrugs off the pain and wills the Lakers to being a win away from the NBA title. Magic Johnson, meanwhile, learns he has lost Rookie of the Year to his rival Larry Bird, who materializes in Magic’s apartment in a vision, meant to tear away at the Laker star’s confidence.

And Jerry Buss, fresh from burying his mother, tells long suffering daughter Jeanie that he needs a favor from her in working up a succession plan. He wants her to help him figure out which of his sons should be heir apparent. After caring for his grandmother and proving herself in the Lakers power structure, Jeanie is crushed. These problems are minor compared to those of Spencer Haywood, the power forward kicked to the curb by coach Paul Westhead over his crack cocaine addiction. Junkies are his companions now as he deludes himself into thinking Abdul-Jabbar’s injury will have his old team begging him to return. When that doesn’t happen, his notion to press his junkie friends to murder Coach Westhead is a go.


Who knew there was this level of behind the scenes drama in the construction of the Lakers Showtime dynasty? It is just part of the intricate tapestry of a remarkable 10-episode first season. Sure, the drama has taken creative liberties that raised the ire of the real Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West, but who would imagine we’d care about a long forgotten season and finals that didn’t involve Magic’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, as Julius Erving’s Philadelphia 76ers upset Boston to make it to the finals?

Westhead (Jason Segel) is visited by his former best friend Jack McKinney (Tracy Letts), the journeyman coach who choreographed the freewheeling Showtime offense for the Lakers, only to scramble his brains and nearly die from a high speed fall off a bicycle. While the two men had a falling out when Westhead helped thwart McKinney’s attempt to rush back and take his coaching job, McKinney gives Westhead the blueprint to beat the Julius Erving Sixers even with Abdul-Jabbar out. Letts’ performance as the tragic figure of McKinney has been one of the highlights of the season and might well put the playwright/actor in awards contention.

Next, Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) tells Magic (Quincy Isaiah) he won’t be coming back for the rest of the finals. After explaining how Magic’s infectious charms changed an old star’s cynical mindset, he demands that Johnson step up and bring home the title and gives him his jersey to rally the team. On the team plane, the coaches are uptight as are the players. Until Magic comes aboard with a boom box and brimming with confidence and Kareem’s jersey, as he tells them he’s playing center, despite giving up a half foot to his rival center. When Westhead opens the diagram left him by McKinney, the former coach also recommended Magic as center. Things might just be okay in Lakers land.

Dr. Buss brings his two sons with him to crappy seats given him by the 76ers. There to greet him is nemesis Red Auerbach of the Celtics, who tells him the Lakers will lose, and that his Celtics player Bird won Rookie of the Year, his coach Bill Fitch won coach of the year and Auerbach won top executive. Says Buss: “isn’t that something? You guys have won everything that doesn’t count.”

Abdul-Jabbar can’t bear to watch the game, but his girlfriend talks him into it. And high strung Lakers consultant Jerry West hits the bottle – Pepto Bismol — he wanders around the catacombs of the arena in Philly, as he can’t bear to watch in the arena. Johnson is feeling none of this pressure as he smiles while walking past 76ers superstar Julius Erving. “What are you smiling about, young blood,” he asks. “Guess I can’t believe I’m about to take a ring from Dr. J,” the 20-year old Magic answers. Game on.

Cut to Bird’s home in French Lick, Indiana. He’s watching with family. “Shut the fuck up,” Bird says in quieting a relative who makes a racial comment. “He’s there, and I ain’t.” As the Lakers build a lead, commissioner-in-waiting tells Buss he’s leaving to get commissioner Larry O’Brien to fly in by helicopter and oh, yeah, they’ll have to bring the championship trophy, indication nobody expected the Lakers to be competitive without Abdul-Jabbar.

The teams are tied 60-60 at the half. In the locker room, co-coach Pat Riley is given by an assistant the results of Magic Johnson’s losing rookie of the year vote. Coach Westhead gives his customary halftime Shakespeare speech, with Riley underscoring, “Let’s kill those fuckers.” The Lakers come out breathing fire, but cannot shake the 76ers, despite Magic’s clinic in no-look passes, dribbling and shooting and rebounding. West is melting down even as the Lakers are up 10 at the end of the third quarter. Cut to Spencer Haywood, who is smoking crack and sweating profusely. After a dog-tired Magic throws an errant pass that brings the 76ers within one, the star calls time out and limps to the bench, exhausted. Things don’t look good. Westhead asks for two minutes to glory, but Riley has something better. He tells Magic, 63-3. “Huh,” Magic says. “The rookie vote,” Riley says. “Bird won, 63-3.” That brings Johnson to his feet, the trademark smile gone from his face.

A Magic pass finds teammate Michael Cooper in ideal position for a score, but he’s fouled hard and rendered unconscious. He staggers to his feet and sinks both free throws to put the Lakers up three. Norm Nixon steals the inbounds pass, gets the ball to Magic who sets the dagger with a thunderous dunk. The clock runs out and the Lakers win the 1980 NBA Championship.

Buss enjoys a moment to reflect on keeping his promise to his mother (Sally Field), and Abdul-Jabbar waits for the call that will present him with the NBA Finals MVP after carrying the team on his back the first four games. In the tunnel, David Stern tells Magic that the league wants him to accept MVP, as the visionary Stern sees the entire NBA rising on the shoulders of Johnson and Bird. West meanwhile is coronated the Lakers next GM by Bill Sharman, as storylines for Season Two solidify.
But one touching epitaph: instead of sulking about not winning MVP, Abdul-Jabbar knocks on the door of his former teammate Spencer Haywood, who is armed and in a crack-induced tailspin. Abdul-Jabbar helps Haywood see the light, in a real MVP moment.

The last word goes to Buss, who after naming Claire Rothman his new treasurer and vice president, stares at the camera and renews his fixations about swans. Previously, he described how, above the water, the animal is the height of grace but under the surface, there is furious paddling going on that nobody sees. At the start of the finale, he talks about how, just before they die, swans deliver a melodic song, a swan song. Staring at the camera Buss says, “I went through 80 million dollars this season. I got a few thousand left in the bank, a fresh credit line, and the best team in basketball. Swan song? Watch me paddle, motherfucker.”

Now, a review of the season and a look at next season with EP and showrunner Max Borenstein.

Deadline: I want you to take us through the finale, and also how you’ve processed the critical comments of former Lakes greats like Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. West asked for a retraction of his depiction as a high-strung executive; Abdul-Jabbar wrote a column saying that among other things, that the show was boring and the characters were cardboard, and that he didn’t tell the young actor in his Airplane! movie scene to “go fuck himself” when the kid asked for an autograph. He wrote that he never said that to any kid, and it undermined his kid-directed charitable endeavors. And there’s a letter to the editor in the LA Times from the Airplane! filmmakers denying that happened. But it’s clear that what you did was extrapolate info from the Jeff Pearlman book the series was based on. Right on page 39, his teammate Kurt Rambis’ wife Linda, who was involved in the organization, says, “’Some little kid would ask for an autograph and he’d say, ‘Go fuck yourself,’” said Linda Rambis, who worked as the vice president and general manager of Forum tennis during the early 1980s. “But Kareem was, otherwise, an incredible professional.” Jerry West, the Hall of Fame player who’s regarded as greatest GM of his era, was portrayed by Jason Clarke as a man who, when he won a championship ring, could only focus on all the ones he didn’t win when the Boston Celtics dynasty knocked off his Lakers, year after year. He might not have thrown his trophy at a window, but it seemed from here this was not a conveyance of ridicule as much as someone who became a great player and GM because his drive to win was so strong it became all-consuming…

Max Borenstein: Thank you.

Deadline: Anything you want to say to answer those critics, who made the Showtime Lakers happen?

Winning Time

Max Borenstein

Borenstein: As you know from talking to me and the other cast, the show has been made with such a great deal of fandom and affection for everyone involved. I’m a huge Lakers fan, everyone portraying every one of these characters is just an enormous admirer of everything these people have accomplished. And it’s also a show that’s been made with such a great deal of research. One of the great things about telling a story about people who have lived their lives in the public eye is that they have told their own story, in almost every case. The only person who doesn’t have a biography or an autobiography is Jerry Buss. Everybody else has told their own story, beautifully and eloquently.

Jerry West’s book West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read by an athlete about his journey, which is beautiful and was a really wonderful resource for us. Among many, many other books, including Kareem’s book. We’ve really drawn on all of that, and the other thing that I think is becoming clear in show as people have watched almost the entire season is that we’re telling an epic journey. From where these characters began in 1979, when we first meet them, compared to where they are today. They were not yet fully formed. Jerry West and Pat Riley had retired from playing, but each had yet to discover his second act when we met them, and at that moment in their lives, they have no idea what that second act will bring.

We as fans know that Pat Riley’s going to become this iconic coach with the slicked back hair and the Armani suits. But that’s in the future. We know that Jerry West is going to become one of if not the greatest general managers in all of sports, but that too is in the future. None of these characters have yet become the statuary outside the arena which they now are. It has been a joy to watch how audiences respond to the surprises when they meet Pat Riley and he’s got shaggy hair and a mustache. I had the same, wait a minute, that’s not Pat Riley reaction, at the beginning. Adrien Brody read the scripts and I sent him some scenes when we were first talking about this. He said, wait a minute, Pat Riley has hair and the Armani and like that’s what he was excited about. He needed photographic evidence, and I showed him, look, this is how he started. I talked him through Pat’s slow burn, tantric process and that he’d feel the satisfaction of watching this person start to become the legend. It became clearer to audiences that this was an origin story for these iconic figures, for the league, and for a culturally transformative moment in our collective American culture.

Deadline: Doesn’t it bother you a bit that the subjects of your series are critical? To tell an entertaining story that keeps viewers going for ten episodes, do you have to abandon the idea that everyone you depict has to love it?

Borenstein: This is a long process I first went through in Worth, the film about Kenneth Feinberg, the special master of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. He was not a public person, he was a private citizen, a lawyer who stepped into the public eye who did this thing, and here we were adapting his story. It was a decade long courtship to get him to a place of being comfortable with the idea that we were going to take his story, and dramatize it. Trying to be as faithful as we could to the sort of capital key truth of it, but it was challenging for him to wrap his head around what often seemed like minutia to me, but mattered to him because it was his life. I can only imagine how weird it would be to have a movie or show made of any part of my own life. I know that it would be an odd, uncomfortable experience, and I would never deem to judge anyone’s response to that. All I know is from our end, the good faith with which we are approaching it as fans and admirers. In my case, I’m deeply moved by everything that these people have accomplished, and the thing that moves me most is that they’re human beings who weren’t born legends and icons. They had to struggle with, as we all do, the wounds of their pasts, and all these different things in order to achieve what they did. That is what makes them heroic and inspiring. We’ve approached it in that manner, and with such a tremendous amount of research. Three years of reading not only the books that are written about it, and their own books, but also we had a researcher who has pulled every article off of LexisNexis from every periodical and every daily covering this team. A lot of the great nuggets implanted in the show, people have not even really commented on…I think we’re going to, at some point, maybe between seasons, just for the fun of it, show people where so much of this comes from. Little things like Paul Westhead having a kidney stone in that first game back to Philadelphia, where he comes from, that’s a fact, and we found that when we were reading these articles about the game. It was in none of the books. Paul Westhead since has written his own book, and he talks about it, but you know it was one of these things that was lost to time and then, we found it, and you realize, wow, what an incredible externalization of the anguish that he was going through in that moment in his conflict with [Jack] McKinney, his mentor. There are countless things like that that we found through this research that are these little gifts that the true story gives you, and then it’s incumbent on the dramatist to say, okay, we can’t have every fact, we have to pick and choose, and sometimes streamline and make those facts work for the larger story. To tell the story of the history rather than simply reciting the moment-to-moment.

Deadline: Well then, a couple of surprising plot points. In the finale, Abdul-Jabbar played heroically with a badly sprained ankle in Game 5 of the finals against the 76ers. He was told he was winning the MVP award awarded by Sport. But Kareem is home for the clinching Game 6, and it’s Magic Johnson who leads the team to the championship in his rookie season. And future visionary commissioner David Stern tells Magic, you’re here, I told you that you and Larry Bird are the future of the NBA, and you are getting the award. That really happen?

Borenstein: Yeah, indeed. We don’t know exactly how the conversation transpired, but if I’m not mistaken, it’s a story we found Kareem telling in his book. Or it might have been in the book The Show by Roland Lazenby and David and some others, but let’s confirm that the Sport magazine writers had voted already for Kareem to win even just based on his performance in the initial five games. And then, of course, Magic had what is probably the most memorable singular performance in all of Finals history, in most any sport, and he wound up receiving the Finals MVP. Kareem felt a definite sense, I think, as he expressed that there was a decision made that because Magic was there, and because he has that charisma that it made sense. David Stern’s involvement is not something that we’re aware of, but we know that it was a league decision. And David is the man most responsible, ultimately, for transforming the NBA from what it was into what we know it to be. And we were able to take those events that we learned about and dramatize it in the way that keys up the beginning of the Magic/Bird era that is the step towards Michael Jordan. And that’s the moment that the genie’s out of the bottle and the world changes.

Deadline: One thing that wasn’t exactly true came when Spencer Haywood, the troubled power forward the team kicked to the curb by Coach Paul Westhead because he was smoking crack, planned to have the coach murdered. I read in the book that the plot was undone when Haywood’s mother called him, realized his state of mind and that he was planning to do something dangerous, and was going to send the police to his home. Instead, you had Abdul-Jabbar come to Haywood’s house, convince his former teammate to put down the gun, and tell him he still believed in Haywood. Touching scene. What rules did you set for invention when you set out to tell this fact-based story?

Borenstein: Well, one of the challenges in the art of dramatization is, there are no strict rules. It’s a constant judgement call, and you know we have a few sorts of stars that we serve. We did a tremendous amount of research to know the facts, and we couldn’t even if we wanted to, get behind closed doors to know what transpires. We can’t show 80 games, so we have to make choices in service of a larger truth. You’re telling the simplified version of events that’s going to hopefully get at the spirit of the truth rather than necessarily a reportage of the facts. Docudramas have done that forever. Where we’ve made those choices, it’s always our intent to find a way to really capture that spirit of the truth.

I was just reading this beautiful thing that David Milch wrote about writing, where he talks about Deadwood and quotes Melville and talks about the difference between the reportage of facts and finding what Melville called the truth, is oftentimes filling in the shape beneath the iceberg of the facts that poke above. The way we look at it is, the tips of the iceberg are the key important incidents; who won what games in the Finals, who got traded and didn’t get traded, and what kind of people the characters were. Then it’s incumbent on us to try to find the story that can connect those tips of the iceberg by filling in what’s underneath the water. Sometimes, those are things that we’ll never know. Like, I’ll never know the conversation between Magic Johnson and Pat Riley before that game. I know that they say they talked, and then you read what they each write about it, and it’s a little bit different as it would be…

Deadline: You mean when Riley tells Magic in those final moments how lopsided was the Rookie of the Year vote won by rival Larry Bird, 63-3, and it gives the tired star a dose of jet fuel to finish the game and the 76ers…

Borenstein: Some of it is just the inherent opaque capacity of what went on, with 10 different things happening. We have to choose one because we can’t bore the audience. We know that in reality Spencer Haywood’s mother called him and that was the reason why he called off the hit, but we also know that he had a relationship with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and based on what their characters are and based on Kareem’s compassion for him as a human being and as a fellow traveler of his generation in the NBA, we imagined our way into a scene that felt true and plausible, even if it wasn’t exactly the way that that moment went down in reality. That’s all part of the toolkit of it, and we’re really proud of the choices we made. Ultimately, it is on us to set our barometer.

Deadline: So, Riley motivated Magic by telling him the MVP vote at just the right moment? That wasn’t in Pearlman’s book.

Borenstein: It did happen. Now, the moment that we dramatize it, off the top of my head, I want to say it may have happened slightly earlier in the game, but that is 100% true that the vote was 63 to 3 and that Magic, when he found out, it became his motivating factor. It was one of those little tidbits that is a gift. The thing that’s so special about this show and the reason I feel so blessed to have lucked into it, is that it’s like adapting the great American novel. The story is so rich, it’s such a cross section of incredible figures from high and low and different facets of American life, and they’re involved in these tips of the iceberg incidents that have become part of our cultural consciousness. But underneath the water, there’s so many other fascinating aspects of the connective tissue that people don’t know.

Deadline: There are certainly connections to movies like Boogie Nights, in that you captured the essence of a time and place that in this #MeToo moment would never be tolerated. The sex, the cocaine of the ‘80s, which were all over Pearlman’s book as many of these young athletes and team owner Jerry Buss were enthusiastic participants in the decadence of the moment. It sets the story beyond the 30 for 30 docus that appeal to hardcore sports fans. This is less about results on the basketball court and grabs onto a cultural zeitgeist moment. What was your eureka moment, that you realized the story had the potential to fulfill that?

Borenstein: There’s a few of them. I think on the cultural level, you hit the nail on the head about the period. It was a moment of transformation in our culture in the ‘80s. The ‘70s were this holdover of the ‘60s and that free love era and the leftist politics. The ‘70s with this sort of moment of transition, and you know what we know of the ‘80s has kind of given us so much of what our current world is, for better and for worse, politically, the Me generation stuff, and culturally, a lot of this sort of transformation in America. You could tell the story through several different lenses. It’s not an accident this team is in LA, in Hollywood, this quintessential modern American city. To me, New York is almost like if you took a European city and put it on steroids, whereas, LA is an American city that shouldn’t exist. It’s only a sheer act of willpower to take this place in the desert and turn it into a city because someone decides, I want to. And here Jerry Buss, this quintessential American guy who remakes himself. He comes from Wyoming from the dust bowl, from the breadlines. He comes out to Los Angeles, falls in love with the dream of sunshine and palm trees and Hollywood, and he can’t buy a movie studio because he can’t afford it, he can’t buy a baseball team or a football team because he can’t afford it, so he buys into basketball. And he turns basketball into something that combines Hollywood and sports in a way that it never had been done before. That creates a new idea of what culture and entertainment can be, and he does it because his personality is one that’s Gatsby-like in the positives and the negatives or in the foibles, and a willpower that is incredibly inspiring.

It also has its seeds of complexity and sometimes darkness that make you think about other American hucksters, P.T. Barnum and people like that, these great men and women who transform the world, but are one step away from pulling a fast one. That’s what America is all about. Wish fulfillment, with complexity.

On the character level, for me, the eureka moment was finding the personal connection and common denominator with all of the characters. When you look at it from the outside in, you go, these are the greatest athletes ever to play the game. How do I connect to that and where can I find a foothold in these incredible athletes that I can understand being the person I am, and most people are. We admire it, but it’s such a rarified stratosphere, but when you look at Magic Johnson and Jerry West, for example, it’s two utterly dissimilar characters on the face of it. As he says in his book, Jerry West is the tormented man who, like you pointed out, won a championship but all he can think of are the times that he lost because that’s his personality. He desperately wishes he could do that over, he can’t step foot in the Boston Garden, and he’s this haunted basketball genius. Magic Johnson also a genius in basketball, but on the surface, a guy that, because his smile, charisma, and star power, these characters couldn’t be more dissimilar. But one of my favorite scenes comes at the end of Episode Eight. West had been skeptical of drafting Magic early on partly because not knowing if he had the hardness and the killer instincts that West believes a real champion needs. Magic said, you still think I’m soft? West says, no fucking way. You hide it with that smile because we have a different surface, but underneath, you have same killer instinct I have, and that’s the same common denominator that Larry Bird has. It’s the reason why, ultimately, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson become the dearest of friends. It’s a common denominator for every one of these characters, including Claire Rothman, Jeanie Buss and Jerry Buss. They all have a drive inside them to achieve something that is, you can call it immortality. They might be happier people if they simply enjoyed their lives, but there’s something inside them, different kinds of damage and wounds that play a role.

Pat Riley’s father was a would-be baseball player, who had one hit in the majors, and then spent his life coaching minor league ball just hoping to get back to the big show. He never got there, and Pat Riley carries that generational burden with him so that his success as a coach, ultimately, was fulfilling some of his father’s thwarted ambitions.

Jerry Buss, he had this single mother who took him to Hollywood, to LA, for the first time, but they couldn’t afford it. She winds up in a horrible marriage with his abusive alcoholic step-father. That childhood wound drove him to become this tycoon, the master of this dynasty. Every character has this thing driving them, that made me say, they’re not just athletes, they’re artists. I can relate to that, as a writer. You’re doing something irrational that I hope will fulfill me, and yet, there’s pain and difficulty and torment in all of it. I think everyone on some level can relate to things like that, and it was finding that little common denominator, to me, that suddenly makes it like, sure, they happen to be basketball players, but you could take any other different lens and see a cross section of incredible personalities. That to me is what it’s really about.

Winning Time


Deadline: Let’s take Dr. Jerry Buss, who’s played by John C. Reilly. In the closing moments, he chooses Claire Rothman to be his treasurer, the woman who was a punching bag for previous team owner Jack Kent Cooke. So Buss is in some ways an empowerer of women. And yet, today he might be looked at as a pathetic figure, an inveterate womanizer with a comb-over and a shirt open to his naval, dating girls barely old enough to drive. Also, he doesn’t see the potential in his daughter Jeanie, who in the finale is told to help him figure out which of his sons should be his successor, even though she has earned her way by cleaning up his every mess. How to explain the dichotomy in this guy who was this smart poker player, NBA Hall of Fame visionary owner, but who has this lack of self-awareness and blind spots, especially where it comes to his own daughter?

Borenstein: Well, it’s that question of how to explain the fundamental complexity and the irreducible complexity of human nature. It’s one of the things that are so beautiful about him as a character. And the ability to set a show not today but in recent memory because it’s frees you to be able to tell the truth in that way about people. I don’t think it’s changed, personally. I think people are complicated and you know a guy like Jerry Buss empowered women in many ways in his work, and he had a reputation as a playboy. In that era, you know, certainly, the mores were different and weren’t judged the way we judge now, for better and for worse. But that was who he was, and to be able to explore that honestly as sometimes hypocritical…he may be hypocritical, but who isn’t? In this day and age, when you’re telling a contemporary story where the mores have changed, it would be a statement to be Jerry Buss, to have a younger woman on your arm frequently. You’d be making a choice that says something.

Whereas, back then, for better or worse, that playboy lifestyle was so common. The beauty of looking back on that story and telling it today is, we can shine a light on the complexity of it without judgement. It’s up to the audience to judge and say, oh, that’s something we don’t agree with, but this is something that we love about this guy, and if we were to tell the story of our grandparents, honestly, it would be that story, and when our children tell our story, if they did so honestly, you’d have those moments, as well. Because the world evolves. What we’re trying to do is shine a light and hold up a mirror to America in this transformative moment. It would be not only a creative mistake but also a lie to reduce out or clean up some of the darker spots. Better to tell it with warts and all and showing this cross section of Americans, as human beings, who both have their own occasional personal foibles but also cultural foibles where you say something that today is off color but at the time, and a time within living conscious memory for us, people said things like that. To pretend like we didn’t, I think does a greater disservice to actually fixing the problems.

Deadline: When you guys took this to John C. Reilly and you presented this complicated figure, what qualities grabbed him and made him say yes?

Borenstein: John has been an incredible actor in the 80 odd movies he’s done. What this role offered him was an opportunity to do everything that he does brilliantly. He’s great comedically, improvisationally, and dramatically, but he gets to do all those things and he’s sexy, too. He’s really the full package in the show, able to take the absurdity of the style of Jerry Buss, and pull it off. In a way that makes you say, I get why people are attracted to him because he’s got so much charisma. Even though the comb-over is technically absurd, who gives a shit? He’s a bad ass, and his charisma is charming. The thing John really responded to right away when we first started talking about the role was, there’s a lot about him and Dr. Buss that are very, very different. John is a family man; not that Buss wasn’t, but you know, John’s not a playboy type. And yet, he’s a guy who did not expect to become a major movie star from where he came from, with every doubter who said, you know, that, nah, you’re not, you don’t look like a movie star, you’re never going to be a movie star, you’re from Chicago, who are you? He had developed a chip on his shoulder about that, that drives him, and it’s driven him to be John C. Reilly. If you look at Jerry Buss, that unsinkable spirit, that irrepressible optimism, in the face of every conceivable obstacle, the flipside of that optimism is there’s a fire inside and there’s a chip on his shoulder, and a desire to rub the doubters nose in their doubt. That’s what’s at the core of Jerry Buss; it’s a real American quality, because America is the culture of reinvention. For all its faults, this is the country where people can come and change their station in life in a way that’s just not been the case historically anywhere, especially in the 20th century. That’s the great promise of America, and Jerry Buss is the quintessential embodiment of that. With one more click in the wrong direction he becomes a hustler; instead, it’s just this unflinching, unflappable belief in one’s self. I’m sure in the privacy at night, that fades and there’s insecurity, and there’s all those things we all feel, and that’s what we’re trying to show. John has been so brilliant at that. He’s fearless about showing the foibles, the moments of vulnerability and insecurity or obliviousness, and yet, at the same time, there’s a heart that is so lovable and so inherently winning about this character that even in moments where he does things that make you cringe…whether they be because they’re not politically correct and aligned with our mores, or the inability for him to see past wanting his sons to inherit his fortune rather than his daughter. Those are places where he’s tied down by his generation, by different aspects, but you still love him, as you should, in the way that you would love any human being who had flaws. I think he brings that off just so magnificently.

Deadline: You got renewed for a second season here. There’s plenty in the book. It’s history so not exactly a spoiler alert, but Paul Westhead will slow down the Lakers attack and earn his way out of town; Pat Riley will become the fashion superstar coach, and then become such a control freak his players hate him and he gets his ticket out of town. And the hedonistic Lakers lifestyle catches up to Magic Johnson. Right after he finally weds his longtime soulmate Cookie, he has to announce that he has the AIDS virus. That was the end of Showtime, even as it created a whole different triumph for him in creating awareness of that horrible disease that had been viewed as a death sentence, confined mostly to the gay community. And we haven’t scratched to specter of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson, the next Lakers dynasty. Where do you go with this?

Borenstein: It’s all these things that one thinks of as an artist, in terms of what this story can be. It’s such an American epic that can take you through a decade, and as you say with Shaq and Kobe, two decades. The life of Jerry Buss, and the growth of Jeanie Buss, who winds up ultimately in a power struggle with her brothers, after her father’s death, becoming the head of the organization and a brilliant owner in her own right. It’s just such an incredible story.

Winning Time


This next season? What we discovered when we thought about the show is, this must be a miniseries but it just became clear that if you did that, you would only have room for the highlights. There are shows and things I’ve seen that do a thing like that with some true story stuff, but what was so compelling about this to me were these themes that we’re talking about and these characters, the way that they transform and the way that Pat Riley goes from being a color commentator to ultimately becoming this driven, controlling coach, one of the greats, but who as you say, burns out his own welcome in LA. That is a slow burn, a long arc, that’s something that you couldn’t make a great movie about all of this because you don’t have the real estate, and you can’t make a great miniseries about it. The only way to get there is to do it as a continuing drama that has the real estate and the runway to really serve these arcs. I hope we’re given the opportunity to continue to tell that story long enough to do it right, but we’re not going to adjust our pace to try to speed it up to the point where we lose the purpose. We’re making every active creation as an act of faith, and right now, we’re so fortunate to have this incredible cast, to have this network behind us, and to have fans who are appreciating it. So yeah, this next season is going to be, you know, taking the same pace that this first season did, roughly, to tell the next piece of the story. Which involves Paul Westhead and Pat Riley, and a struggle Magic has that next year, and Jerry West’s next step in the direction of becoming the general manager. There’s a lot of transitional stuff that starts to happen in that next season. We’re not going to jump way ahead because, for us, the best version of this is able to continue to really mine the richness, and keep operating in good faith and cross our fingers that we get to do it for a few more years so that we can finally get to all the things you’re talking about. Which would be a dream come true because I think it’s one of those worthy stories that actually has that potential. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, it doesn’t run out of steam and fuel quickly, partly because it’s not a traditional sports story about winning or losing a single season or a single game. It’s actually, it’s the story of a dynasty, and so much like The Crown, right, where you’re telling a dynasty story. We don’t have royal families but we do have celebrities and we have this franchise that is for me even more fascinating than the royal family. Because it’s American, and these are people who come from all different walks of life and achieve on the virtues and the merits of their character, and those are the same things that ultimately bring them down and humble them.

Deadline: From that standpoint, history did you a favor by having the Philadelphia 76ers be surprise participants in the finals after upending the Celtics. The ensuing battles between the Lakers and Celtics, Magic vs Bird, and Celtics bruisers Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, it’s Rocky II.

Borenstein: Exactly. One of the beautiful things about not getting that right away…we always compare it half-jokingly to the White Walkers in Game of Thrones…is we’re telling a slow burning epic. It happens to be based on fact opposed to fantasy, like in George [RR Martin]’s case with Game of Thrones, it’s still an epic. One with these incredible, beautifully dramatic builds where we know we want Magic and Bird to face each other again, and they have these little skirmishes and these teases in games that don’t really count. But they’re going to get there, and when they do, it’s not going to be satisfying immediately if we’re coming at it from Magic’s standpoint, so it’s, ultimately, you know, the more we know what gifts we have in the future, and if we’re fortunate enough to get to keep making the show, there’s just such great material to be able to be mine.

Deadline: There are so many strong performances here, from established actors like Reilly, Adrien Brody, Jason Clarke, Sally Field, Michael Chiklis, Jason Segel and Tracy Letts, to newcomers like Quincy Isaiah as Magic and Solomon Hughes as Abdul-Jabbar. I have to take my hat off to real former Lakers player Spencer Haywood (played by The Wire’s Wood Harris), who has been so open about his tortured past, how he did a self-circumcision and screwed up a shot at the title by becoming hooked on crack, and finally overcoming it and becoming a role model. It’s remarkable how honest the depiction of him is. Did he participate?

Winning Time


Borenstein: I haven’t spoken to him. We exchanged a little bit on Twitter, but Wood Harris sought him out and he’s spoken to Wood a lot, I believe they’ve become friends. He has spoken to a few other actors like Solomon Hughes, who plays Kareem. Spencer’s such an inspiring person because he’s come through his struggles with addiction to a really incredible place of being a speaker and inspiring others to heal themselves. He wrote a wonderful book with Scott Ostler that’s incredibly candid about his upbringing and addiction that was one of the great resources that we drew on for his story. It’s really gratifying that he’s been supportive of the show, but as with all of these guys, it’s their lives, and they’re going to have the relationship to the show that they choose or that they feel comfortable with. I can’t judge it one way or another, but of course, it’s really nice to hear that from him. In the case of Jack McKinney’s family, Jeff Pearlman, who did a lot of research with them for the book and met with Jack McKinney before he passed away, he received a text from Jack’s family shortly after watching the fifth episode in which he had that bike accident that was just…you know, it really…we read it in the sound mix for a different episode, and we were all crying because it was so beautiful. He was saying how for so much of their lives, this was just such a formative moment, their father and husband, having this tragedy befall him, and it was hard for them to deal with it, emotionally. The show was at least in speaking for their father and getting his story justice and its due was at least helping give some semblance of closure. They said they were all in tears watching it.

It was really one of the most special things because a guy like Spencer Haywood, a guy like Jack McKinney, they are forgotten men in many ways in a sporting culture that wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be what it is without them, and so being able to not just tell the stories of the people that you think you know and reveal aspects of them that you may not yet have been aware of, but to be able to tell the stories of people you don’t know and give them their appropriate flowers is really a special thing. It’s an honor to be able to do it.

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Top 50 Reality TV Shows of All Time

1. The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On (2022– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Reality-TV

Get hitched or call it quits? Couples put their love to the test – while shacking up with other potential matches – in a provocative reality series. Stars: Vanessa Lachey, Nick Lachey, Madlyn Ballatori, April Marie

2. The Kardashians (2022– )

Follows the Kardashian family as they celebrate new ventures and navigate through their new normal; motherhood, relationships, and career goals. Stars: Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, Kris Jenner

3. Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2006–2021)
TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Family, Reality-TV

A peek inside the exploits and privileged private lives of the blended Kardashian-Jenner family, including sisters Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, Kendall and Kylie. Stars: Khloé Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kris Jenner

4. Selling Sunset (2019– )

TV-MA | 30 min | Reality-TV

The elite real estate brokers at The Oppenheim Group sell the luxe life to affluent buyers in LA. The drama ramps up when a new agent joins the team. Stars: Mary Fitzgerald, Chrishell Stause, Christine Quinn, Heather Rae Young

5. RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009– )
TV-14 | 63 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

RuPaul searches for America’s next drag superstar. Stars: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice, Ross Mathews

6. Is It Cake? (2022– )
TV-PG | 40 min | Reality-TV

Skilled cake artists create mouthwatering replicas of handbags, sewing machines and more in a mind-bending baking contest inspired by a popular meme. Stars: Mikey Day, Sam Cade, Andrew Fuller, Jonny Manganello

7. Survivor (2000– )
TV-PG | 60 min | Adventure, Game-Show, Reality-TV

A reality show where a group of contestants are stranded in a remote location with little more than the clothes on their back. The lone survivor of this contest takes home a million dollars. Stars: Jeff Probst, Lillian Morris, Jon Dalton, Rob Mariano

8. The Curse of Oak Island (2014– )
TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary, Reality-TV

Rick and Marty Lagina, two brothers from Michigan with a life-long interest in the mystery of Oak Island, renew efforts to discover the legendary treasure with sophisticated machinery. Stars: Robert Clotworthy, Marty Lagina, Rick Lagina, Charles Barkhouse

9. Married at First Sight (2014– )
TV-14 | 83 min | Reality-TV

A reality show that follows singles yearning for a life-long partnership as they agree to a provocative proposal: getting legally married to a stranger the moment they first meet. Stars: Pepper Schwartz, Calvin Roberson, Viviana Coles, Jessica Griffin

10. Below Deck (2013– )
TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

Follows the crew of a multi million dollar charter boat in the Caribbean. Stars: Lee Rosbach, Kate Chastain, Eddie Lucas, Ben Robinson

11. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014– )
TV-MA | 30 min | Comedy, History, News

Former Daily Show host and correspondent John Oliver brings his persona to this weekly news satire program. Stars: John Oliver, David Kaye, Ryan Barger, Noel MacNeal

12. Naked and Afraid (2013– )
TV-14 | 43 min | Adventure, Game-Show, Horror

Reality show where two strangers (typically 1 male, 1 female) try to survive in the wild for up to 21 days, naked. Stars: Michael Brown, Amanda Kaye, E.J. Snyder, Laura Zerra

13. Clarkson’s Farm (2021– )
TV-PG | 45 min | Documentary, Comedy, Reality-TV

Follow Jeremy Clarkson as he attempts to run a farm in the countryside. Stars: Jeremy Clarkson, Kaleb Cooper, Charlie Ireland, Gerald Cooper

14. Deadliest Catch (2005– )
TV-PG | 55 min | Documentary, Adventure, Reality-TV

A documentary series chronicling the real-life high-sea adventures of the Alaskan crab fishermen. This is the most deadly profession in the world. Stars: Mike Rowe, Sig Hansen, Keith Colburn, Jake Anderson

15. The Masked Singer (2019–2022)
TV-PG | 60 min | Game-Show, Music, Reality-TV

A singing competition guessing game based on Korean format King of Mask Singer. 12 celebrity performers wear costumes to conceal identities. One singer is eliminated each week and unmasked. Small hints are given for the viewer guess along. Stars: Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke

16. Below Deck Mediterranean (2016– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

A reality show following the crew of the Ionian Princess, a luxury charter yacht in the Mediterranean. Stars: Sandy Yawn, Hannah Ferrier, Malia White, Colin Macy-O’Toole

17. Beyond the Edge (2022– )
60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Features celebrities as contestants, competing in a battle of strategy, wits and muscle. Stars: Mauro Ranallo, Lauren Alaina, Ray Lewis, Craig Morgan

18. Ghost Adventures (2008– )
TV-PG | 45 min | Documentary, History, Reality-TV

Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, and Jay Wasley investigate the scariest, most notorious, haunted places in the world. Stars: Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, Jay Wasley

19. Too Hot to Handle (2020– )

TV-MA | 40 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV, Romance

On the shores of paradise, gorgeous singles meet and mingle. But there’s a twist. To win a $100,000 grand prize, they’ll have to give up sex. Stars: Desiree Burch, Carly Lawrence, Emily Miller, Chase de Moor

20. Top Gear (2002– )

TV-PG | 60 min | Adventure, Comedy, Reality-TV

The hosts talk about everything car-related. From new cars to how they’re fueled, this show has it all. Stars: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, The Stig

21. Drag Race España (2021– )

TV-14 | 66 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Spanish Drag superstar Supremme Deluxe presides as ten of Spain’s most talented queens compete to be crowned Spain’s first Drag Race Superstar. Stars: Carmen Farala, Sagittaria, Killer Queen, Supremme De Luxe

22. Love Is Blind (2020– )

TV-MA | 48 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV, Romance

Singles who want to be loved for who they are, rather than what they look like, have signed up for a less conventional approach to modern dating. Stars: Nick Lachey, Vanessa Lachey, Deepti Vempati, Shayne Jansen

23. Impractical Jokers (2011– )

TV-14 | 30 min | Comedy, Reality-TV

Q, Sal, Joe and Murr are real-life best friends who love challenging each other to the most outrageous dares and stunts ever caught on hidden camera. Stars: Brian Quinn, James Murray, Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto

24. Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof (2022– )


Features eight celebrities embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime epic adventure, under the training of extreme athlete Wim Hof, aka ‘The Iceman.’ The group undertakes challenges that will test them both physically and mentally. Stars: Wim Hof, Lee Mack, Holly Willoughby, Alfie Boe

25. Below Deck Down Under (2022– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

Explores the complex, often explosive dynamics of the crew and a rotating group of demanding charter guests on a yacht in northeastern Australia. Stars: Jason Chambers, Magda Ziomek, Aesha Scott, Ryan McKeown

26. 90 Day Fiancé (2014– )

TV-14 | 85 min | Reality-TV, Romance

Using a unique 90-day engagement visa, four women travel to the US to live with their American fiancés for the first time. Each couple has 90 days to wed before the visas expire and the women must return home. Stars: Natalie Podiakova, Mike Youngquist, Nicole Nafziger, Azan Tefou

27. The Great Pottery Throw Down (2015– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Ten home potters from around the country head to Stoke-on-Trent, the home of pottery, in their quest to become Top Potter. Stars: Keith Brymer Jones, Richard Miller, Sara Cox, Kate Olivia Malone

28. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010– )

TV-14 | 44 min | Reality-TV

A reality series that follows some of the most affluent women in the country as they enjoy the lavish lifestyle that only Beverly Hills can provide. Stars: Kyle Richards, Adrienne Maloof, Camille Grammer, Lisa Vanderpump

29. The Great British Baking Show (2010– )

TV-PG | 60 min | Reality-TV

Bakers attempt three challenges each week trying to impress the judges enough to go through to the next round and eventually are crowned Britain’s best amateur baker. Stars: Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins

30. Temptation Island (2019– )

TV-14 | 42 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Couples travel to a tropical paradise where they are forced to decide if they’re ready to commit to one another for the rest of their lives. A reboot of the 2001 reality series. Stars: Mark L. Walberg, Toneata Morgan, Evan Smith, Ashley Howland

31. Judy Justice (2021– )

TV-14 | Reality-TV

Judge Judy Sheindlin presides over a new array of cases, litigants and judgments.Stars: Kevin Rasco, Judy Sheindlin, Whitney Kumar, Sarah Rose

32. Alone (2015– )

TV-14 | 44 min | Documentary, Game-Show, Reality-TV

Ten survival “experts” attempt to survive alone. The winner receives $500,000. Stars: Nicole Apelian, Brooke Whipple, Jesse Bosdell, Brad Richardson

33. Naked Attraction (2016– )

60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV, Romance

A controversial dating series in which people see potential love interests whose naked bodies are gradually revealed to them. Then they must get naked themselves and choose. Stars: Anna Richardson, Sarah Jayne Snow, Melissa Edden, Brianna Jones

34. Married at First Sight Australia (2015– )

TV-14 | 42 min | Reality-TV

Eight singles (out of thousands of applicants), chosen by clinical physiologist John Aiken, neuropsychotherapist Dr. Trisha Stratford and psychologist Sabina Read, come to find themselves …Stars: Georgie Gardner, John Aiken, Mel Schilling, Alessandra Rampolla

35. MADtv (1995–2016)

TV-14 | 60 min | Comedy, Reality-TV, Talk-Show

A sketch comedy show based on the seminal Mad Magazine. Stars: Michael McDonald, Debra Wilson, Aries Spears, Bobby Lee

36. American Idol (2002– )

TV-PG | 42 min | Game-Show, Music, Reality-TV

Twelve American finalists (six men and six women) compete in a singing contest. Stars: Ryan Seacrest, Mark Thompson, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell

37. The Challenge (1998– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Adventure, Game-Show, Reality-TV

Past members of “The Real World,” “Road Rules,” “Are You the One?,” first time cast members called ‘Fresh Meat,’ relatives of these members, and past members from other shows compete against each other for the chance to win a cash prize. Stars: T.J. Lavin, Chris ‘C.T.’ Tamburello, Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio, Aneesa Ferreira

38. Below Deck Sailing Yacht (2020– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

Capt. Glenn Shephard and his crew set sail in a luxury sailing yacht to explore the crystal-clear blue waters of the Ionian Sea. The physicality of working on a sailing yacht brings new … Stars: Glenn Shephard, Daisy Kelliher, Gary King, Colin Macrae

39. 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days (2017– )

TV-14 | 85 min | Documentary, Reality-TV

Couples who have applied for or received a K-1 visa “available uniquely to foreign fiancés of U.S. citizens”, have ninety days to arrange for and have the marriage ceremony. The visa is not to give time “to decide IF” they will marry. Stars: Darcey Silva, Usman Umar, Angela Deem, Jesse Meester

40. Hell’s Kitchen (2005– )

TV-14 | 42 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

World renowned chef Gordon Ramsay puts aspiring young chefs through rigorous cooking challenges and dinner services at his restaurant in Hollywood, “Hell’s Kitchen”. Stars: Gordon Ramsay, Jean Philippe Susilovic, Scott Leibfried, Jason Thompson

41. Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls (2022– )

TV-14 | Reality-TV

Superstar Lizzo is on the hunt for confident, badass women to join her world tour, and only the most talented dancers will have what it takes to twerk it out on world stages with her and join in the ranks of the elite BIG GRRRLS. Stars: Lizzo, Jayla Sullivan, Sydney Bell, Charity Holloway

42. The French Chef (1962–1973)

TV-G | 30 min | Documentary, Short, Family

Julia Child teaches the art of French cooking. Star: Julia Child

43. Top Chef (2006– )

TV-14 | 44 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

A reality competition show in which chefs compete against one another in culinary challenges and are a judged by a panel of food and wine experts, with one or more contestants eliminated each episode. Stars: Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons, Richard Blais

44. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (2012– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

New show will serve up a new twist on the mega-hit RuPaul’s Drag Race as it pits queens from previous seasons in a wig-to-wig drag battle royale. Stars: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Ross Mathews

45. Judge Judy (1996–2021)

TV-G | 30 min | Short, Comedy, Crime

Judge Judy Sheindlin , a former judge from New York, tackles actual, small claims cases with her no-nonsense attitude in which damages of no more than $5,000 can be awarded. Stars: Petri Hawkins Byrd, Judy Sheindlin, Jerry Bishop, Bea Arthur

46. LOL: Last One Laughing Germany (2021– )

Comedy, Reality-TV

In this comedy-gameshow, ten German comedians try to be the last one laughing. Make your opponents laugh, while staying serious yourself. Stars: Anke Engelke, Max Giermann, Michael Herbig, Carolin Kebekus

47. Luxe Listings Sydney (2021– )

TV-14 | Reality-TV

The Sydney real estate market is hotter than ever, with demand for exclusive properties far outweighing the supply. Money never sleeps, and these real estate agents will stop at nothing to deliver the best results for their clients. Stars: D’Leanne Lewis, Simon Cohen, Gavin Rubinstein, Tammy Soglanich

48. The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch (2020– )

TV-PG | 42 min | Horror, Mystery, Reality-TV

A team of experts and scientists undertakes exhaustive research at Skinwalker Ranch, an infamous location for paranormal activity and UFO sightings. Stars: Travis Taylor, Bryant ‘Dragon’ Arnold, Brandon Fugal, Erik Bard

49. Get Organized with the Home Edit (2020– )

TV-PG | 30 min | Reality-TV

Organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit conquer clutter and transform lives. Reese Witherspoon and Molly Sims coproduce. Stars: Clea Shearer, Joanna Teplin, Reese Witherspoon, Jordana Brewster

50. Jackass (2000–2007)

TV-MA | 535 min | Action, Comedy, Reality-TV

The cast performs various crazy stunts for our amusement. Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Dave England

Bravo Series – The Real Housewives Of…

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010) (TV Series)

Kyle Richards as Self 245 episodes • 2010–2022
Adrienne Maloof as Self 96 episodes • 2010–2021
Camille Grammer as Self 148 episodes • 2010–2021
Lisa Vanderpump as Self 220 episodes • 2010–2021
Lisa Rinna as Self 160 episodes • 2014–2022
Mauricio Umansky as Self 162 episodes • 2010–2021
Erika Jayne as Self 136 episodes • 2015–2022
Ken Todd as Self 149 episodes • 2010–2021
Kim Richards as Self 154 episodes • 2010–2021
Dorit Kemsley as Self 112 episodes • 2016–2022
Brandi Glanville as Self 130 episodes • 2011–2021
Yolanda Hadid as Self 99 episodes • 2012–2021
Giggy Vanderpump as Self 90 episodes • 2010–2021
Portia Umansky as Self 93 episodes • 2010–2021
Eileen Davidson as Self 88 episodes • 2014–2021
Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave as Self 87 episodes • 2017–2021
Taylor Armstrong as Self 87 episodes • 2010–2020
Paul Kemsley as Self 71 episodes • 2016–2021

The Real Housewives of Orange County (2006) (TV Series)

Vicki Gunvalson as Self 267 episodes • 2006–2022
Tamra Judge as Self 269 episodes • 2007–2022
Shannon Storms Beador as Self 169 episodes • 2014–2022
Heather Dubrow as Self 161 episodes • 2012–2022
Eddie Judge as Self 143 episodes • 2011–2022
Briana Culberson as Self 133 episodes • 2006–2019
Kelly Dodd as Self 116 episodes • 2016–2022
Gretchen Rossi as Self 141 episodes • 2008–2022
Terry J. Dubrow as Self 119 episodes • 2012–2022
Alexis Bellino as Self 119 episodes • 2009–2020
Emily Simpson as Self 81 episodes • 2015–2022
Gina Kirschenheiter as Self 80 episodes • 2018–2022
Slade Smiley as Self 93 episodes • 2006–2017
Meghan King as Self 93 episodes • 2014–2022
Jeana Keough as Self…93 episodes • 2006–2022
Ryan Vieth as Self 87 episodes • 2007–2019
Sophie Beador as Self 88 episodes • 2014–2022
Michael Wolfsmith as Self 85 episodes • 2006–2019

The Real Housewives of New Jersey (2009) (TV Series)

Teresa Giudice as Self 221 episodes • 2009–2022
Melissa Gorga as Self 195 episodes • 2010–2022
Joe Gorga as Self 156 episodes • 2010–2022
Jacqueline Laurita as Self 128 episodes • 2009–2022
Dolores Catania as Self 117 episodes • 2009–2022
Joe Giudice as Self 128 episodes • 2009–2022
Gia Giudice as Self 119 episodes • 2009–2022
Milania Giudice as Self 117 episodes • 2009–2022
Caroline Manzo as Self 106 episodes • 2009–2022
Gabriella Giudice as Self 101 episodes • 2009–2022
Kathy Wakile as Self 105 episodes • 2010–2022
Chris Laurita as Self 97 episodes • 2009–2022
Margaret Josephs as Self 87 episodes • 2017–2022
Audriana Giudice as Self 89 episodes • 2010–2022
Jennifer Aydin as Self 71 episodes • 2018–2022
Jackie Goldschneider as Self 71 episodes • 2018–2022
Danielle Staub as Self 90 episodes • 2009–2022
Gino Gorga as Self 76 episodes • 2011–2022

The Real Housewives of New York City (2008) (TV Series)

Ramona Singer as Self 262 episodes • 2008–2021
Luann de Lesseps as Self 248 episodes • 2008–2021
Sonja Morgan as Self…232 episodes • 2010–2021
Bethenny Frankel as Self 170 episodes • 2008–2021
Dorinda Medley as Self 153 episodes • 2010–2021
Carole Radziwill as Self 144 episodes • 2012–2021
Heather Thomson as Self 87 episodes • 2012–2021
Tinsley Mortimer as Self 96 episodes • 2010–2021
Jill Zarin as Self 78 episodes • 2008–2021
Alex McCord as Self 64 episodes • 2008–2021
Kelly Bensimon as Self 57 episodes • 2009–2020
Simon van Kempen as Self 59 episodes • 2008–2021
Mario Singer as Self 59 episodes • 2008–2021
Kristen Taekman as Self 48 episodes • 2014–2020
Leah McSweeney as Self 45 episodes • 2020–2021
Aviva Drescher as Self 49 episodes • 2012–2021
Avery Singer as Self 45 episodes • 2008–2021

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Adriana De Moura as Self 56 episodes • 2011–2022
Alexia Echevarria as Self 53 episodes • 2011–2022
Marysol Patton as Self 50 episodes • 2011–2022
Lisa Hochstein as Self 49 episodes • 2012–2022
Lea Black as Self 41 episodes • 2011–2013
Joanna Krupa as Self 34 episodes • 2012–2013
Leonard Hochstein as Self 24 episodes • 2012–2022
Larsa Pippen as Self 22 episodes • 2011–2022
Ana Quincoces as Self 22 episodes • 2012–2013
Frederic Marq as Self 22 episodes • 2011–2013
Romain Zago as Self 22 episodes • 2012–2013
Karent Sierra as Self 21 episodes • 2012–2013
Peter Rosello as Self 16 episodes • 2011–2022
Elsa Patton as Self 16 episodes • 2011–2013
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Julia Lemigova as Self 15 episodes • 2021–2022
Nicole Martin as Self 15 episodes • 2021–2022
Marta Krupa as Self 15 episodes • 2012–2013

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Kandi Burruss as Self 279 episodes • 2009–2022
Cynthia Bailey as Self 259 episodes • 2010–2022
NeNe Leakes as Self 230 episodes • 2008–2022
Porsha Williams as Self 209 episodes • 2012–2022
Kenya Moore as Self 197 episodes • 2012–2022
Phaedra Parks as Self 175 episodes • 2010–2022
Shereé Whitfield as Self 142 episodes • 2008–2022
Todd Tucker as Self…140 episodes • 2011–2022
Gregg Leakes as Self 121 episodes • 2008–2021
Peter A. Thomas as Self 115 episodes • 2010–2021
Marlo Hampton as Self 105 episodes • 2011–2022
Kim Zolciak-Biermann as Self 92 episodes • 2008–2021
Apollo Nida as Self 72 episodes • 2010–2021
Joyce Jones as Self 74 episodes • 2009–2021
Lauren Williams as Self 66 episodes • 2012–2021
Malorie Bailey as Self 73 episodes • 2010–2021
Shamea Morton as Self 68 episodes • 2012–2021
DonJuan Clark as Self 65 episodes • 2009–2021

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Gizelle Bryant as Self… 114 episodes • 2016–2021
Karen Huger as Self 114 episodes • 2016–2021
Robyn Dixon as Self 114 episodes • 2016–2021
Ashley Darby as Self 113 episodes • 2016–2021
Candiace Dillard as Self 88 episodes • 2018–2021
Monique Samuels as Self 93 episodes • 2017–2021
Ray Huger as Self 92 episodes • 2016–2021
Michael Darby as Self 91 episodes • 2016–2021
Chris Bassett as Self 78 episodes • 2018–2021
Chris Samuels as Self 63 episodes • 2017–2020
Juan Dixon as Self 70 episodes • 2016–2021
Charrisse Jackson Jordan as Self 79 episodes • 2016–2021
Wendy Osefo as Self 46 episodes • 2020–2021
Corey Dixon as Self 47 episodes • 2016–2021
Carter Dixon as Self 45 episodes • 2016–2021
Grace Bryant as Self 47 episodes • 2016–2021
Milani Samuels as Self 43 episodes • 2017–2020
Chris Samuels Jr. as Self 42 episodes • 2017–2020