'Queen of Versailles' considers going back in front of cameras
April 29, 2013 4:00 AM
David and Jackie Siegel in "The Queen of Versailles," which airs on Bravo at 9 p.m. Monday.
By Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As the network that has spawned multiple incarnations of "The Real Housewives," Bravo is the perfect TV home for the 2012 documentary "The Queen of Versailles" (9 tonight).
A story about Jackie Siegel and her businessman husband, David Siegel, the film by director Lauren Greenfield was released in theaters last summer to overwhelmingly positive reviews -- 95 percent fresh on rottentomatoes.com -- including the Post-Gazette's Barbara Vancheri, who called it, "fascinating and surprisingly sympathetic to its subjects."
"The Queen of Versailles"
When: 9 tonight on Bravo.
Starring: Jackie Siegel.
The film chronicles the couple's efforts to build a 90,000-square-foot house inspired by the French palace of Versailles. Their plans get derailed by the 2008 stock market crash. Mr. Siegel's time-share sales business takes a hit, and he's required to sell off a Las Vegas property.
After the film's release, Mr. Siegel filed a lawsuit against Ms. Greenfield over the film, which he claimed hurt the reputation of his company, Westgate Resorts. The suit has been stayed pending arbitration. And Mrs. Siegel is promoting the movie for Bravo by doing interviews arranged by Bravo's publicity team.
"I can't really talk about the lawsuit, but my husband knows my dream was always to be in front of the camera acting and modeling, and that's what I did a lot when I met him. So he's very supportive and keeps me happy," she said in a phone interview earlier this month. "Marriage is all about give-and-take and at this point he's giving. So we have a great marriage, and he loves me enough to let me pursue a dream."
And what dream is that exactly? Perhaps a reality TV series of her own to star in.
"I'm entertaining the idea," Mrs. Siegel said. "There's a lot of interest. I'm just kind of waiting to see what comes along."
She said her husband would be supportive of a reality show, but her kids have mixed reactions. Some like to be camera hogs when local TV news crews visit her home, Mrs. Siegel said, while others prefer not to appear on camera.
The Siegels have eight children living in their current, 26,000-square-foot home, the same one they are shown living in in "The Queen of Versailles" as their larger home is built. By the end of the movie, construction on the dream home has ground to a halt, but Mrs. Siegel said construction resumed three months ago.
"We plan our first party, my husband's 80th birthday party, on May 3, 2015. It will be far enough along to throw a party there," she said. "Probably a year after that we'll move in."
In the film, the Versailles house gets put on the market. Mrs. Siegel said it was listed for $75 million unfinished and $100 million finished. She said it's not "actively" for sale, but if someone made a $100 million offer the family would entertain it.
"I don't know if we would actually accept one way or another," she said. "My husband is excited for the house to be finished. He's in development and like an artist gets excited about a piece of artwork, he just wants to finish it."
Despite her husband's lawsuit against Ms. Greenfield, Mrs. Siegel praised the movie.
"I think Lauren did an excellent job of creating a story that a whole country could connect with of how the financial crisis affected different levels of income people, everything from minimum wage to middle class to millionaire statuses," she said. "We had filmed over three years so I was surprised of what wasn't in there, but she had to condense everything down to 90 minutes after three years of filming and there's only room for so much."
Her primary regret -- a line that's become a go-to favorite in other interviews -- is that she didn't have a hairstyle or makeup artist during filming.
Mrs. Siegel said she sees Ms. Greenfield with some frequency at "Queen of Versailles" festival screenings, and they simply don't discuss the lawsuit.
"One of the reasons he doesn't like the film is it makes it look like the company failed when in reality he just sold one building," Mrs. Siegel said. "Out of 28 resorts he sold one in Las Vegas."
In the spirit of marriage as a give-and-take enterprise, Mrs. Siegel made a request in her parting words designed to be a salve to her husband's wounds: "Can you mention something about how the movie ending is a happy ending and Westgate is doing great and doing more profitable than ever and we are now expanding?"