Keeping Up With The Kardashians is a reality TV juggernaut – but the series was originally rejected by producers and almost never made it to air, it has been revealed.
The show premiered on US network E! in 2007 and has since made global superstars of the family. Its 20th and final series begins this week.
But the PA news agency can reveal Keeping Up With The Kardashians was initially rejected by producers who thought the soon-to-be stars “don’t really have talent”.
It was only when show creator Ryan Seacrest took the concept to the boss of E! that it got picked up.
Ted Harbert was president and CEO of the Comcast Entertainment Group, which included E!, and he recalled the day Seacrest gave him the sizzle reel that would eventually become Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
He told PA: “He called me and said in a very polite, respectful way about my own staff, he said ‘I know I’m going over people’s heads but your staff has passed on this tape a few times. I know I’m going over people’s heads but I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look’.
“He sent it to me that day, I took it home that night and looked at it. If I remember correctly it was just seven minutes of a barbecue put together. And I went in the next day and said to my staff, ‘we’re putting this on the air. This is a hit.’”
The teaser showed the Kardashians – including matriarch Kris Jenner and sisters Kourtney, Kim and Khloe – at a Sunday backyard barbecue.
Harbert said his staff was puzzled by his enthusiasm for the sizzle reel, complaining the family “don’t really have talent, they don’t really do anything”.
But he said the concept of the show followed “a classic family drama formula” and he knew it would be a success.
He said: “They fight, they scream, but at the end they really love each other. And that had a lot to do with Kris as the matriarch pulling the whole family together after whatever they were fighting about.”
Reflecting on American Idol host Seacrest’s role in bringing Keeping Up With The Kardashians to the screen, Harbert added: “He really believed in it. And he took the unusual step of going over people’s heads and so under normal business, I would never have seen it and I would never even known it was passed on.”