Kris Jenner on New Talk Show: 'Maybe I Can Be an Inspiration'
Robert Lifton, executive producer on 20th Television's "Kris," says Jenner has "the cult of personality" as the Kardashian mom answers every last tabloid rumor, talks O.J. ("I need to let God judge him"), and addresses what her new show, in tests this summer, will reveal.
This story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
At 8 o'clock on a cloudy June morning in Hidden Hills, Calif., Kris Jenner's 10,000-square-foot mansion is -- shockingly -- silent.
Husband Bruce is off playing golf or helicoptering (no one seems quite sure). Daughter Kim Kardashian is 23 miles away in her Beverly Hills manse, preparing to move back in with Mom before her baby girl arrives in a few weeks (a high chair is stashed in a corner here, alongside boxes crammed with Kim's belongings). Khloe and Kourtney are in their nearby houses, while younger sisters Kylie and Kendall are being home-schooled (the teenagers got their way after a protracted battle). And Rob, the black-sheep son who seems the butt of everyone's jokes, is doing a photo shoot for his new line of socks (each of the Kardashians appears to have at least one clothing line). All this means that -- amazingly -- the Kardashian matriarch is alone.
Many other women would be out flat on their bed if they had one second to themselves. But not Jenner, 57, who burst onto the national scene six years ago as the architect of a reality empire and is used to living with a 20-plus-member film crew that follows her and her family 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for five months out of every year.
Now she's about to extend her stint in the limelight with her own talk show, Kris, which begins a six-week trial run July 15 on five or more Fox stations. On the show, she'll look at fashion, fitness and beauty, speak with celebrities -- and try to capture a slice of the multibillion-dollar daytime TV market that has failed to develop any truly big stars since Ellen DeGeneres. Whatever her strengths or weaknesses, Jenner at least is prepared to talk -- about anything, including every last headline out there about her family.
Is O.J. Simpson really Khloe's father?
"That's 130 million percent untrue," she says. "People make up stories about two-headed aliens. That's ridiculous."
Does Kanye West think Kim has gained too much weight?
"It's an absolute fabrication. All you have to do is look at Kim. She's absolutely gorgeous."
Did Kim have plastic surgery while pregnant?
"No! The reports that she's had anything done while she's pregnant -- it's so stupid. I just wish people would use their head."
Were Kris and Khloe kicked out of Kim's house, drunk?
"Khloe and I went to Kim's house and were absolutely not kicked out. I was tired and wanted to go to bed, so I left after an hour. I mean, are you supposed to go to your daughter's house and spend the night? No."
Did Kris spend $250,000 on plastic surgery?
Never, though "I had my neck done, and it was a great experience."
Is Bruce undergoing an operation to be a woman?
She laughs, unfazed by this as by everything else. "That's been around since the '70s," she says. "Some of these weekly magazines go to such a place, it's a creative-writing assignment."
This creative-writing assignment has become a national pastime as America can't keep its eyes off the family -- even while tearing its hair out from feelings that range from disgust to bewilderment to envy. The collective fascination (shared by more than 150 other countries) translates to whopping ratings: The June 2 season-eight premiere of Keeping Up With the Kardashians drew a record 3 million viewers, up 6 percent from last summer's opener.
"Kris fits the mold of the whole Kardashian family: She has created a love-hate relationship with viewers," says Henry Schafer, executive vp at The Q Scores Co., which measures how widely known and liked celebrities are. "The average host of a show, including talk shows and so on, is a 13 positive, and [Jenner] is at a 6. The average negative for a TV host is a 22, and she is a 57." (DeGeneres, for example, has a 25 positive and a 19 negative.) But Schafer says those scores might not matter because the Kardashians make "an emotional connection, which is what they want."
Certainly Robert Lifton, executive producer on Kris, is hoping that spills over on his show, which "is designed to reach our target audience, women ages 25 to 45," he says. "It's going to be an amalgamation of other shows, and it will all be very 'lite.' It's not about reinventing the wheel; it's about the cult of personality."