Since starting in 2007, the American reality television series, Keeping Up With the Kardashians has since turned into a global empire, as it now airs in 167 countries, featured nine spinoffs and ranks as one of the nation’s top-rated TV series since 2010 — not to mention, the notorious sex tape that was made public between Kim and her ex, Ray J in 2007 that also helped catapult the show’s popularity.
Additionally, the family has spanned into the world of fashion and lifestyle with one boutique in the Valley, a combined social media reach of 700 million-plus, five profitable apps and receiving millions of dollars from a variety of endorsement deals, products and appearances.
The Hollywood Reporter delves into how all of this came about, as they speak to the stars and producers of the mega franchise in a recent interview.
Here are a few takeaways that we learned from the conversation.
…how their lives were like before the show, and how the idea began.
Kris Jenner (star, executive producer) “Before the show, I was managing Bruce’s speaking career and personal appearances.”
Kim Kardashian (star, executive producer) “I was going to [Pierce College], and after school I would go work the cash register at our store, Dash. This all happened when I was 27 …”
Kendall Jenner (star) “That’s so crazy because I’m not even 27. We’ve lived the same amount of time of the same thing, but I’m not even the age you were when you started.”
Ryan Seacrest (executive producer) “Everyone was talking about The Osbournes, and I said to my development executive Eliot [Goldberg], “Let’s try to find something in this world and take it to E!””
Kourtney Kardashian (star, executive producer) “We had talked to producers about doing a show about the three of us running the store, Dash, where Khloe and I would do the day-to-day, and Kim would come in as a stylist. It didn’t go anywhere.”
Ted Harbert (then-CEO of E! Networks) “Just like anybody else, I knew of the family through [O.J. Simpson attorney] Robert Kardashian. There was a bit of the stuff with Kim hanging around Paris Hilton and, of course, the fun with Ray J [who made a sex tape with Kim]. That was sort of world news.”
Damla Dogan (senior vp development & programming, E!) “They were just crossing over into pop culture territory, especially Kim. She had a look that wasn’t on TV at the time. She wasn’t stick thin, and that was relatable.”
…on launching nine spinoffs.
Seacrest “We had a successful mother ship and we thought, “Let’s try a spinoff.” They were opening a Dash store in Miami, so that gave us a premise [Kourtney & Kim Take Miami]. I got a call from Jeff Shell, who was under Steve Burke at Comcast, which owned E! before the NBC merger. He said, “Should we be investing in spinoffs?” I told him, “I’ll take the risk.””
Harbert “A couple of years in, I said, “Wait until Kylie and Kendall are 18 years old, then there’s a whole new generation of shows that can supply the schedule for years.” (Life of Kylie premiered Aug. 6 to solid ratings.)
Kylie Jenner (star) “I feel like I’ve been hiding myself and my personal life for a really long time, so I thought it was time to do this show and hopefully be a little more understood.”
Khloe “I never wanted to do Khloe & Lamar [which ran for two seasons in 2011 and 2012]; my ex-husband did. He sold it to E!, and I let it happen because I wanted him to be happy. I was the one who canceled it. It was way too much.” (Odom was hospitalized in 2015 after being found unconscious at a Nevada brothel. The couple divorced in 2016.)
…on Bruce Jenner announcing that he would begin living as a woman.
Kim “The most difficult thing [to film] was probably Caitlyn’s transition and just seeing my mom and Khloe having such a hard time. We never really edited content before, but we did edit a bit of Khloe’s reaction just because she was so upset.”
Khloe “If I act a certain way, I act a certain way, but I just knew in my head this needed to be a four-hour episode. This is so real, and I want to ask every question I have, but also I want honest answers.”
Kylie “At the time, I didn’t think, “Oh, this is going to make pop culture history.” I had different things on my mind, because this was my reality, and this is my dad.”