April 16, 2024


EXCLUSIVE: If you thought the blast radius from Vanderpump Rules‘ infamous “Scandoval” was contained, think again. In a blistering lawsuit filed today in LA, Rachel Leviss is taking Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix to court for revenge porn, eavesdropping and invasion of privacy.

And she’s pretty clear why.

“‘Scandoval’ captured the public’s attention in a massive way, went completely viral, and injected new life into Vanderpump Rules,” declares the jury trial seelking complaint filed Thursday in LA Superior Court. “It also caused mayhem in Leviss’s life, culminating in months-long in-patient treatment at a mental health facility and her departure from the show. Fomented by Bravo and Evolution in conjunction with the cast, Leviss was subjected to a public skewering with little precedent and became, without exaggeration, one of the most hated women in America.”

While Bravo, NBCUniversal, Andy Cohen and other Vanderpump producers are not named in this latest legal action arising from the openly sleazy Real Housewives franchise, they are sure named all over it.

At the same time, as the behind-the-scenes machinations of the unscripted world is coming under increased scrutiny,. and even as Leviss is centering her ire on Sandoval and Madix and seeking unspecified damages, the Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos represented ex-VR star wants all copies of the sex tape destroyed, and an injunction to shut down anyone ever seeing it again – and that’s on NBCU’s Bravo and producers  Amazon MGM Studios’ Evolution Media.

“It is clear that Bravo deliberately sacrificed Leviss for the sake of its commercial interests from its refusal to allow her the opportunity to tell her side of the story and defend herself, which she repeatedly begged for permission to do,” Leviss’ filing exclaims.

As the 19-page complaint goes on to state, what you saw on TV in VR’s 10th season may not have been all that was really going on:

Plaintiff Rachel Leviss is a former cast member on Vanderpump Rules, a reality television show produced by Evolution Media (“Evolution”) and broadcast by Bravo Media (“Bravo”), an asset of NBCUniversal (“NBC”) (together with Bravo, “Bravo”). This case arises from a scandal of epic proportions starting in March 2023. Stemming from an affair between Leviss and another cast member, Tom Sandoval, “Scandoval”—as it came to be known—went instantly viral and was the subject of extraordinary press coverage, even in the mainstream media. “Scandoval” injected new life into a previously faltering series, causing its viewership to explode to unseen levels and making its cast members mega-celebrities. Due to a narrative deliberately fomented by Bravo, Evolution, and the cast, Leviss became an object of public scorn and ridicule.

To be clear, Leviss has repeatedly acknowledged that her actions were morally objectionable and deeply hurtful to Madix. She has offered numerous apologies. There is more to the story, however. Lost in the mix was that Leviss was a victim of the predatory and dishonest behavior of an older man, who recorded sexually explicit videos of her without her knowledge or consent, which were then distributed, disseminated, and discussed publicly by a scorned woman seeking vengeance, catalyzing the scandal. Leviss ultimately checked herself into a mental health facility and remained there for three months while Bravo, Evolution, and the cast milked the interest her excoriation had peaked.

To make matters worse, Leviss was misled by Bravo and Evolution into believing that she was contractually barred from speaking out about her mistreatment. As a result, she suffered in silence as Bravo and Evolution watched viewership explode, and the rest of the cast enjoyed unseen levels of public recognition and professional opportunity. Meanwhile, Leviss, who was humiliated and villainized for public consumption, remains a shell of her former self, with her career prospects stunted and her reputation in tatters.

For those of you who missed it, Scandoval started when Sandoval, who was recently on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, cheated on his then girlfriend Madix with one of her closest pals Leviss.

That’s pretty standard unscripted fare.

However, fueled in no small part by a NSFW Facetime video from Leviss that Sandoval seemingly secretly taped and supposedly circulated, Scandoval blew up last year right as Vanderpump Rules’ 10th season was airing on Bravo. Madix found out about the affair from a so-called accidental look at Sandovol’s phone show and then all unscripted Hell broke loose.

The fallout from Scandoval spewed over from Season 10 of VR to the currently airing Season 11 and has been the topic of a number of reunion specials. Not appearing in VR Season 11 so far, Leviss herself discussed the matter on Bethenny Frankel’s podcast last summer. As well, claiming that the explicit video was “done illegally without Raquel’s knowledge or consent,” lawyers Leviss sent cease-and-desist letter to the concerned parties last year that the video constituted a violation of California laws in regard to “nonconsensual pornography.”

In an environment that Frankel has called the “reality reckoning” about the way shows like Real Housewives, Vanderpump Rules and various spinoffs are made, today’s lawsuit is the natural next step for Leviss.

Bravo are not a defendant in this case, at least not yet, but being that the outlet is strewn all over the suit, Deadline reached out to the NBCU-owned channel about Leviss’ action. They did not response, but it and when they do, this post will be updated.



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