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NBCU in South Africa Real Housewives format row

NBCUniversal’s formats team has told TBI it is in no way connected with a South African woman who has claimed in a press report to be producing a local version of the Real Housewives… franchise.

South Africa’s City Press yesterday published a story claiming a woman named Barbie Brazil (birth name Tembi Ennie Tshabalala) had acquired the local patent to the reality format’s name and was planning a South African version.

The newspaper reported Brazil’s manager, Lelo Bikitsha, had approached the South African trade and industry department and found the show name was only patented in the US, and subsequently registered it. City Press added negotiations with a broadcaster had begun ahead of an announcement before the end of the month.

However, NBCUniversal’s UK-based international director of formats and production Jonathan Tuovinen, who handles the show in South Africa, said that Brazil categorically did not have production rights.

NBCU owns the international rights and local versions have been sold to and produced in France, Canada, Greece and Israel among other territories. Australia’s Foxtel is currently preparing a local version for its Arena channel, produced by Matchbox Pictures.

Tuovinen told TBI the format is under option with another unnamed South African production company, which had contacted NBCU concerned by the report.

The Real Housewives franchise began in the US on NBCU-owned cable channel Bravo in 2006 with The Real Housewives of Orange County, followed later by series set in Atlanta, New York and New Jersey.