April 12, 2013 8:49am PT by Erin Carlson
Kandi Burruss Talks 'Real Housewives' Reunion, Tension With NeNe Leakes
The fifth installment Real Housewives of Atlanta was so explosive and over the top (two words: Kenya Moore) that Bravo has stretched out the reunion footage over three episodes filled with another season's worth of verbal smackdowns.
"I'm so stressed and everything is so tense prior to us going to tape the reunion, and then for Todd -- he already hates being on the show, so he was dying," cast member Kandi Burruss, who's engaged to producer Todd Tucker, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
"The whole week up until the reunion, every day he's like, 'oh my god, I don't know if I should do this,' you know, 'Ask me some questions! What do you think they're gonna say?' I was like, 'Will you calm down? Nobody's really going to bother you!' It's the rest of us that's gonna be put on a stake."
She adds: "For me, once the reunion is over, I get to finally breathe. ... Everybody's so tense and barely saying anything to each other because you know you're about to have these arguments. And it's crazy."
Part one aired last Sunday, with two more to go featuring cameos from Tucker as well as exiled Real Housewife Kim Zolciak, who walked off the show early in season five following a dispute with the other women. So far, Burruss and NeNe Leakes have butted heads over Leakes' dismissive attitude toward the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. (But that was nothing compared to the combative Moore hurling low-blow insults toward a pregnant Phaedra Parks in a war of words that had Moore dissing Parks as "overweight.")
"We don't really have anything to say to each other," Burruss says of Leakes. "We really don't talk to each other outside of things we're doing for the show. Like I don't really have a problem with her for real. And I don't think she really has a problem with me. But every time I turn around she has something smart to say to me so I just give her the same energy she gives me."
As for Moore, who clashed with Parks while consulting on the attorney's Donky Booty workout video and later released the similar Booty Boot Camp starring herself, Burruss admits: "I like Kenya. I think she's funny. I think she's cool. But I don't like everything she does. ... I wouldn't trust her with any of my great ideas."
Meanwhile, the multi-tasking Burruss -- who recently launched the sex toy line Bedroom Kandi -- is headlining her very own Real Housewives' spin-off, The Kandi Factory, a singing competition show that airs Tuesdays on Bravo. It follows Burruss, a former member of the '90s girl group Xscape and writer of hits for TLC, Destiny's Child and Mariah Carey, among other artists, as she mentors 16 wannabe performers chasing their dreams of superstardom. In each episode, Burruss writes songs for a pair of contestants who then compete in a showcase for the grand prize: the release of their song online along with a music video.
"I do have some favorites, hands down," says Burruss, not naming names. "I know that, this season, a lot of people thought that we were gonna stick a whole bunch of people who were challenged vocally. But we actually have all different levels of talent who were on this show this year. So we had some people who could really, really sing great and we had some people who were in dire need of our help."