White House Crashers Reality TV Wannabes

Who needs an invite when you're "famous"?

By Chris Needham
|  Friday, Nov 27, 2009  |  Updated 8:21 AM PDT
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Scenes from the White House State Dinner

AP

Uninvited guests Michaele and Tareq Salahi arrive at a state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House. The Secret Service is looking into its security procedures after determining that the Virginia couple managed to slip into Tuesday night's state dinner.

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The Virginia couple who crashed this week's White House State Dinner and mugged it up with the likes of Vice President Biden and Rahmbo had shot scenes for the D.C. version of Bravo's "Real Housewives" moments before pulling off the astonishing security breach.

A Bravo spokesperson confirmed Thursday night that camera crews for Half Yard Productions, which produces the reality show, had filmed Tareq and Michaele Salahi as they dolled up to sneak into the event, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But producers did not shoot at the White House and were unaware the couple hadn’t been invited to the maximum-security schmooze fest, according to reports.

How these attention who-, er, lovers finagled their way through White House security is something the Secret Service is investigating.  One former White House aide explained to The Washington Post that it's likely that confusion because of the high number of guests and some fake indignation at not being on the list at the checkpoint got them through.

The Salahis live the kind of life you'd love to boo should they ever make their reality-show dreams come true.  They're polo-playing socialites who run Oasis Winery near the Shenandoah.  The winery's website claims that the winery is one of the top 10 in the world -- the only North American winery to make the list.  Left unsaid is who was compiling the list, which makes all the difference in these sorts of things.

Mrs. Salahi is a former Redskins cheerleader, or so she claims.  Tareq hosts polo tourneys, but the Post notes, has had some issues with the winery:

"Even before their brush with reality TV fame, the couple had gained some notoriety for a long-running feud with Tareq’s parents, Dirgham and Corinne Salahi, over control of the family’s Oasis Winery in Hume, Va. Last year, Tareq accused his mother’s attorney of punching him; the lawyer was found not guilty. Court records show that Oasis filed for bankruptcy in February, with Tareq listed as “debtor designee.'"


The couple posted pictures of their meetings with various VIPs at the White House to their Facebook profiles, and the White House has confirmed that they were not on the invited list.

Mahogany Jones, the Salahis' publicist, released a statement Thursday saying the couple has no formal comment at this time.

"Their counsel, Paul W. Gardner Esq., states emphatically that the Salahis' did not 'crash' this event," the statement read. "We look forward to setting the record straight very soon."

And no doubt dragging the controversy out through the holiday season. Jeez, people like this actually exist.

So what happens now? With the White House investigating, a former government official told CNN that they could be in trouble: "If you lie to a federal official, either secret service or the social secretary, if they lied their way to get in, and it seems they would have had to have done that, that's a federal felony."

An attorney who knows the couple said they shouldn't need legal help.

"They just went to a party," Paul Morrison, a Virginia attorney who has represented the Salahis in the past, told The Associated Press. "They didn't do anything wrong."

As for their shot on "Housewives," looks like they're still in the running. The Bravo spokesperson told the Journal  the Salahis' breach is a "personal matter" and the cast has yet to be determined.

The couple will have a chance to tell their side of the story to CNN's Larry King on Monday.

Serious questions remain: Will the Salahis' next photo shoot be mugshots?  Will she wear a sparking evening gown?  Break out the Redskins cheerleader outfit? 

We'll find out, ready to mock in their self-created misfortune.  But that's probably what they want any way: All attention is good attention.

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