FROM LEFT: Alexia Echevarria, Larsa Pippen, Marysol Patton, Cristy Rice, Adriana De Moura, Lea Black

Naturally, our city let out a collective groan when The Real Housewives of Miami was announced. After all, we were still stinging from the abominable Miami Social (who were they again?), which seemed to grate on everyone’s nerves like an Ed Hardy T-shirt.

Then there was Bad Girls Club: Miami, a tour by Khloé and Kourtney and a short, fist-pumping visit from the cast of Jersey Shore, which all helped carve the Magic City’s image into one big cesspool of silicone, tramp stamps, booty-shaking and rented yellow Ferraris.

New York vs. Miami
It was in this cynical climate on our sunny, sandy shores that the 305’s take on Bravo’s infamous franchise debuted. And it started off on an appropriately bitchy, catty note, pissing off thousands of women in New York and around the country before the first episode even aired: A mere 19 days from the season-four premiere of the New York iteration, the network announced it was bumping the Manhattan girls in favor of Miami’s Marysol, Adriana, Larsa, Cristy, Lea and Alexia.

Were there problems with the of RHONY? If so, what did Bravo need to fix? Perhaps it dawned on the powers that be that RHOM was so good and timely it would blow everyone away—it had to air right this second! Even if the shifted airdate itself was some kind of ratings stunt, there was really no time to dwell on the details: The show that was supposed to start in June would in fact begin in February. The new crop of golden girls’ pre-launch vacation plans (and crash diets) were quashed, as there were now interviews, photo shoots, parties, appearances and a barrage of new Twitter followers to manage.

Behind the Scenes Squabbles
On a sunny spring day at a $60 million home on Indian Creek, Ocean Drive brought the Housewives together for their first, exclusive (non-Bravo) photo shoot. Entertainment Tonight showed up to get the scoop, RHONY’s Ramona Singer (apparently bearing no hard feelings) sent a case of her new eponymous Pinot Grigio to wish them well, and the girls were off—newfound national fame in tow.

Before the first photo was snapped, the house had already become a textbook RHO-style spectacle: Cristy Rice and Larsa Pippen bickered over the outfits each would wear in their shot together (“I’m just going to say, if you were going to look hot and half-naked, I could have worn something sexier too, but they told us to dress elegant”).

Lea Black introduced everyone to “Team Lea,” a posse that assists in her many businesses and charitable pursuits. Marysol Patton grabbed her BlackBerry and grumbled that US Weekly had just posted a blog entry describing her as the cast member who “squires a boring, younger beau.” A few of the girls mischievously declared that “Adriana [De Moura] would be the most likely to pose for Playboy.”

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