Every week, Erin and Sara Foster, the creators and stars of VH1’s Barely Famous (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.), will reveal the best from behind the scenes of their faux-reality show in a conversation with EW. This week, the sisters dish on the fourth episode of the season, “Death of a Relationship,” in which Erin falls for her older boyfriends son, and Sara battles with the nanny that slept with her husband.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the opening of the episode you run into Brooke Burke. How open was she to slamming Dancing With the Stars?
SARA FOSTER: We were very clear that the only way that we were gonna do a bit was if we acknowledged what actually happened and she was like, “Sounds good, great.” Obviously it wouldn’t have been funny to have a run-in where we were blowing smoke. She doesn’t seem to have a bitter attitude toward it though; she just thought it was hilarious. The whole Dancing with the Stars aspiration just plays into my character’s willingness to do anything to stay barely relevant.
ERIN FOSTER: She was hilarious. I think it seemed to me that it was something that was hard at the time, but she’s grateful now for what she’s gone on to do, so she’s able to laugh about it. Plus, she’s a grown woman with five kids and has more important things to focus on. She’s just really cool.
The cheating scandal storyline was fantastic. How did you come up with the idea for the cheating nanny to get famous?
SARA: That was actually a storyline that we had last year on the table that never really made the cut. Erin and I both knew that we wanted to play into the nanny cheating with Sara’s husband, getting the five seconds of press and milking it for all it was worth. We really wanted to make fun of the nanny overall.
ERIN: Well, also how America embraces those people, which is strange. Once people get in the public eye, other people are just insatiable and eat it up.
SARA: Once we got into the editing room, the storyline just wasn’t flowing the way it should have. Unfortunately, we had to cut several scenes like one where I held a press conference to address the scandal and then the nanny shows up, having the camera’s all turn to her.
ERIN: Right! The other part of that storyline that had to be cut was that Sara kept saying that she was so upset about the affair, but she couldn’t really produce tears over it. She’s doing these press conferences and just can’t produce tears to seem genuine, but then the nanny comes by and starts crying and gets all of the genuine sympathy. Basically, Sara just can’t win.
Bringing in Dr. Phil McGraw to be a part of the skit seemed fitting. How easily does he tap into comedy?
ERIN: He has a really great sense of humor. One day, I met up with my dad for dinner and he happened to be eating with Dr. Phil — they’re friends. I sat with them for an hour and he was just so charming. After we hung out, he and his wife watched the show and emailed us to say they thought it was so funny. At that poin,t it seemed like a natural fit because we needed a character to bring out Sara’s “Ah ha!” moment. Now, the problem with pulling in another show like Dr. Phil is that we can’t film in that studio space, so we had to bring him to us as a home visit.
NEXT: Working with ‘the most interesting man in the world,’ and how to spot fame mongers
It seems like you have a wealth of storylines and jokes to work with. Would you ever see Barely Famous becoming an hour-long comedy?
ERIN: Yeah, I mean, we want longer [Laughs]. Listen, I think network TV in general is struggling. Networks are scrambling to battle all of the different ways that TV can be consumed these days, so the conversations you have with a network about a show is never about more, it’s always about less. So, it’s a challenge, but everyone’s in the same boat.
SARA: Gotta say, there are a lot of commercials on our show [Laughs].
ERIN: [Laughs] So many commercials! That’s advertising though, that’s how the network makes their money. I understand the position they’re in right now, it’s kind of like how the music business was ten years ago. We’re just not in a position with them to have more wiggle room. We’re always asked to find ways to cut money and not add to the budget. But, if you have any money, we’d gladly take it from you.
EW: If I find extra money, I’ll definitely send it your way.
ERIN: Thank you, Evan.
Jonathan Goldsmith, a.k.a. the “most interesting man in the world” — how did you get him involved? He seems like an international man of mystery.
SARA: He’s so elusive, right?
ERIN: Sara and I had been talking for a long time about a storyline where I would date an older guy who’s successful and I would have to convince my friends that I was actually attracted to him. Originally, we were thinking of casting an 85-year-old man in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank, very Anna Nicole Smith. We just thought it would be so funny to have me date someone like that and pretend that I’m seriously attracted to him. When it comes to casting, we don’t have casting directors, it’s just Sara and I and our producers picking people. We pitched that idea, but then someone said maybe it was too extreme. So we went back and realized if we used a guy that was much older than me, but still attractive, then it would allow us to take the joke farther. Then bringing in his younger, attractive son would make my guy look that much older.
Have you experienced anything like that in real life?
ERIN: Listen, our dad has had friends who are older than him that get their “late-in-life wife.” We can see the lack of sincerity coming from the woman — meanwhile, the older man is oblivious. The man is just insanely wealthy and once they pass away, the woman seems completely fine moving forward right away and has no financial issues.
Do you have any personal moments of people trying to use you for fame?
SARA: We live in LA, so we get a lot of people trying to get ahead. It’s never really personally happened to me, but being friends with certain people, of course you see it. You just see how celebrities can walk in a room and certain people change their body language or personality to talk with them.
ERIN: I think it’s much easier to see it happening to someone else than to know it’s happening to you. I’m not sure we are famous enough for that!
SARA: Oh wait, going off of that, I remember growing up people would be really nice to us and I would think, “Wow, they’re so sweet and nice!” Then they would come back to me later and say something like, “By the way, my son is an amazing singer. Can you give this tape to your dad?” So happened to me a lot.
ERIN: I think everyone can see an opportunity and just go for it, but it can be attached to asking someone for help. So I get that, I mean, I’ve asked people for help and support, but there’s a way to do it.