Lisa Rinna Auditioned for 'RHOBH' Season 1 — and These Other Celebs Were Almost Housewives

Andy Cohen objected to casting Lisa Rinna at the time, saying he didn't want an actress on the show

Lisa Rinna quickly became a fan favorite when she joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills during season 5 — but she was almost an OG.

In the new tell-all book Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Inside Story of the Real Housewives From the People Who Lived It — written by PEOPLE contributor Dave Quinn — it is revealed that Rinna, 58, was on the "short list" to join the inaugural cast of the hit Bravo show.

"I went in and made a tape and they came to the house and filmed a little sizzle reel," Rinna said. "Usually when you get to that point, you're on the short list."

Producers wanted RHOBH to showcase "rich people" whose lives would make viewers "envious of their lifestyle." And with Rinna's decades-long Hollywood career and soap opera background, she seemed to fit the bill.

"We thought Rinna was an interesting choice because she was such a Hollywood type — sort of the actress/entertainer who was still hanging on and has a famous husband," RHOBH executive producer Alex Baskin explained.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/lisa-rinna/" data-inlink="true">Lisa Rinna</a>
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But it was Andy Cohen who ultimately objected to casting Rinna.

"Lisa Rinna had been on so many reality shows, it just seemed like a parody to me," he said. "For me, it needed to be about real women. I didn't think we should have an actress, and I didn't think any of them should be famous."

As fans know, that approach didn't last long. Rinna would go on to become one of many actresses to join RHOBH, including Eileen Davidson, Denise Richards and Garcelle Beauvais.

Rinna wasn't the first celebrity to be approached for the show. When producers were putting together casts for The Real Housewives of Orange County, they turned to Hollywood.

"Kristy Swanson — the originally Buffy the Vampire Slayer — interviewed for the show back in season 12," said casting director Dawn Stroupe. "When we came to do the interview, she was wearing a puffy vest and a sweater and jeans. She just didn't look like the glam they wanted for Housewives. And what we learned when talking to her is that her ex, Alan Thicke, had just died the day before and she was very upset. And ultimately, she didn't get cast."

Lipstick actress Mariel Hemingway also expressed interest in joining the show but never got cast, according to the book.

"I thought she'd be a great fit, I mean she's an Academy Award nominee, after all," said producer Scott Dunlop. "I passed her on and she went up to Evolution and the network and it didn't work out for one reason or another."

Kristy Swanson; Mariel Hemingway; Vanessa Bryant
David Livingston/Getty Images; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images; CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

One dream Housewife the show never managed to snag? Vanessa Bryant.

"Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant?" said RHOC casting director Jennifer Redinger. "We pursued her every year and she was a no. She passed."

Not All Diamonds and Rosé is out now.

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