Remember when the Main Line was buzzing about a “Real Housewives” show based here?
And how Bravo TV said thanks but no thanks and took their cameras elsewhere?
Because, apparently, we Main Liners are too cookie-cutter and won’t let our highlighted hair down.
Little did they know.
Now we’re letting it all hang out – at least some of us are – on “Get Real Main Line,” a reality show that’s been filming for a year and was just picked up by a major network.
“Get Real” stars Toni Filipone, Conestoga Class of ’93, perhaps the Main Line’s mouthiest and funniest lesbian, out and proud, married to Berwyn caterer Meridith Coyle since August 2015.
No stranger to TV cameras, Toni coaches “Real Housewives” of New York and Orange County and just agreed to coach the cast of Bravo’s “Summer House” (season two).
Also sharing the “Get Real” limelight: Toni’s handpicked cast of local coaches – wife Meridith is the nutiritonal coach. Also on board are fitness Coach Dori Nugent, Image Coach Kia Lyons, Career Coach Crissy Pyfer and Spiritual Coach Cara Bradley.
Their mission? To empower and transform the Main Line. One woman, one episode, at a time.
Season One shows Jennifer Martin battling the loss of a child and Doree Eichman dealing with a spouse’s suicide. (Additional “clients” TBD.)
Among other things, the coaches coax the two to lose the shame, quit the self-sabotage and suck some sweet from the life lemons they’ve been dealt.
To, well, get real.
All, of course, with cameras rolling – courtesy of Conshy’s Keystone Pictures and Ardmore’s New Pace Productions.
The coaches all contribute, but the show’s headliner, heart and soul is Toni: ballsy, fierce, focused.
A straight shooter in real and reel life.
Tough as the leather on her back. But compassionate, too.
“The show’s been on my vision board for a long time,” says Toni, who became a certified life coach in 2004 “before it was super trendy … As much as I joke around, I don’t take this lightly. I’ve done my homework. My goal is to make everybody feel differently about themselves in a positive way, to let them know there’s hope.”
A self-professed starstruck reality-TV addict (in recovery), Toni tells us her journey to celebrity began at age 14, when she became the youngest group exercise trainer in PA.
In high school and beyond, she entered fitness competitions, once placing 4th in a national aerobic contest. “I danced around the stage and did pushups and splits,” she recalls. For a while, she was a fitness model for Richard Simmons on QVC. (Simmons remains her favorite of all the celebs she’s met over the years.)
When Toni’s sister moved to LA, the two connected with “The Biggest Loser” star Jillian Michaels, who asked Toni to become the “Ask the Trainer” expert on her website.
Meanwhile, back in Berwyn, she was becoming a much in-demand personal trainer. Working with Toni was never just about getting in shape; she says clients received “mental coaching to break patterns, too.”
Working with a reality star like Jillian Michaels inspired Toni to begin building her own brand. To that end, started tracking clients’ progress – her numbers showed success rates of 74 to 99 percent, she says. “Success” was defined as clients’ staying off meds and maintaining weight loss over six months.
She also starting writing for LGBTQ magazines Compete and Sports Out Loud.
Her big break came when she was asked her to coach – physically and mentally – Sonja Morgan, a “Real Housewife of New York.”
“Sonja was the super fun, quirky train wreck you were rooting for,” Toni says.
A socialite who fell into a financial and alcoholic tailspin after a high-profile divorce, Sonja opened doors to other “housewives,” specifically some in Orange County.
It seems Toni had the secret sauce: she’d whisper in their ears, making even the most privileged of housewives come off genuine and sympathetic.
At Sonja’s urging, producers started turning on Toni’s microphone.
Toni, it turns out, was worth listening to.
A few months later, a “Housewife” producer approached her about hosting her own show. Its premise: Master Life Coach Toni turns around lives in six weeks.
Fast-forward a couple years. Three sizzle reels, a pilot episode, and large chunks of Season One are in the can.
We aren’t allowed to say which major network picked up the show, but trust us, it’s a big one. It could air as early as the fall, but we’re hearing January 2018 is more likely.
Naturally, Toni is tickled.
On-camera clients Jennifer and Doree are already “completely different people,” she says.
Here’s a quick sneak peek at Toni coaching Doree:
While she admits that some reality shows “nudge” storylines, “Get Real” is definitely not scripted, Toni says. “We have very intense moments. Some who’ve watched the shows have been brought to tears. We don’t hold back. “
With buzz building, Toni says women are clamoring the join the cast, sending her 50 to 100 e-mails a week.
What’s in it for them? A chance to right their lives in six weeks and/or a chance to go public to help others, she says.
Also notable in Toni’s inbox: e-mails from married women (at least one a week) seeking advice on how to come out as lesbians to their kids or husbands. “Over the past six years, it’s unbelievable how many people in our area are coming out. Somehow, I’ve become the Main Line’s lesbian advocate.”
Toni says she’s always been open about her sexual preference. “I was taught to have no shame in it. My mom would tell me: ‘If people have a problem with you being gay, it’s their problem, not yours.’ I was raised to be so proud of whatever I did. I’ve found that being vocal about it has helped people who are struggling.”
Some of “Get Real” is being shot in Meridith and Toni’s Berwyn home and Toni talks freely – on-camera and off – about their relationship.
“I met this woman [she was Meridith’s fitness trainer at the Upper Main Line Y], she goes through a terrible divorce and loses it all. Her ex got the name and the money. But she was so honest and open about; there was no shame in her game. I was so attracted her authenticity. Mer would say, ‘I built a great business, I lost it. I’ll build it again.’ Now she’s built more than she had before – she bought a shopping center and her catering company is through the roof.”
The Meridith/Toni domestic scenes anchor the show. “The producers love the dynamic. I’m super-mouthy and curse a lot. Meridith is more conservative. Leather and pearls, that’s us. It was a battle but Mer’s gotten more comfortable having the cameras around now. We’ve become friends with the crew.”
The cast has been taking the show on the road of late, hosting free “Get Real” workshops that are selling out. “I had no idea so many people were battling some serious issues,” says Toni. “I thought it was time to give back.”
When she’s not coaching for the cameras, Toni works with private clients. She’s also debuting a summer camp to teach compassion, self-respect, mindfulness and kindness to kids and teens.
Because, in Toni’s mind, everyone – of every age – needs to get real.
“There’s a false sense of stability on the Main Line,” she says. “I see people living to a standard that’s far beyond their means. It’s OK if you can’t have the Range Rover. It’s OK to downsize. It’s OK if you have a child that’s an addict. It’s OK to go back to college because you want your life back. I grew up thinking everyone else’s life was perfect in this area. It’s not.”
If the show’s a hit, Toni says “Get Real” will go forth and multiply … to “Get Real Houston” or Miami or wherever.
Until then, charity – and reality TV – start in her own backyard.
“I’m happy to do it in my hometown that I love so much,” she says. “It’s great seeing people come out of their shells. They’re making big changes.”
High times at Chipotle and Estia
Two drug busts at two Radnor restaurants? Say what?
In late May, a bartender at Estia Taverna on Radnor Chester Rd. was arrested for selling cocaine at the popular Greek spot – a stone’s throw from Radnor High School.
And this week, Chipotle on Lancaster Ave. in Wayne closed when cops took three people into custody for dealing pot. Arrested were Chipotle employee Robert Lane, 22, of Philly and two people sitting in a car parked outside: Kydeem-Amad Shoatz, 24, and Briana Davis, 23.
Apparently, they sold pot to undercover officers on several occasions. And stashed drug paraphernalia in a restroom toilet.
Radnor cops called in the health department and all food was pitched as a precaution.
The (tortilla) chips – not to mention, stock prices – have been down for a while at Chipotle, where spoiled food sickened 60 people in 14 states last year.
On the other hand, those tasty Estia Chips about a mile away? Well, they’ve been riding high since 2014.
Wawa, Margate & Lower Merion Schools get tough after Memorial weekend melée
A slew of Lower Merion teens – some apparently high and/or drunk – were among the 300 reportedly on hand for the infamous Memorial Day Weekend beach brawl in Margate – an altercation so ugly it made national news.
Prompting the punches: school pride – of the Main Line vs. Cherry Hill variety. Some of those involved beat it to the nearby Wawa a few hours later.
Talk about the young and the restless.
It seems congregating down the Shore to kick off summer is what Harriton teens do.
School reporter Ricky Sayer told the Inky that a meetup on the beach near Lucy The Elephant is a Harriton Memorial Day Weekend tradition. “They return after they graduate,” Ricky reports. “Many people are clearly intoxicated. The police can tell there is underage drinking going on. I personally saw a number of them walking around the large group in the hours following the fight.”
Furious, the Lower Merion School District issued a statement denouncing the “inexcusable behavior,” saying the incident should remind people about “the significant health and safety risks” and “potential consequences” of illegal drinking and drugging, including “the loss of scholarships, college acceptances and personal reputation – particularly in the age of social media.”
In all, Margate police made more than a dozen arrests for disorderly conduct, underage drinking and marijuana that weekend.
A 16-year-old and 17-year-old from Narberth were among the three charged in the beach fisticuffs.
Sadly, youth from Villanova and Gladwyne also appear on the police blotter. (Others arrested came from Montco towns and Cherry Hill.)
Margate’s police chief, who had to ask for reinforcements from neighboring Longport and Ventnor, called the out-of-town teens “really disrespectful” and complained about how hard it was to enforce curfew laws.
The mayor said things got “way out of hand” and had to call in his public works crew to clean up the “wall to wall trash” in the Wawa parking lot the next morning.
Folks have starting calling the Washington Ave. convenience store Club Wa, adopting a local teen’s mocking moniker for the longtime shoobie hangout.
Naturally, Wawa’s fed up, too.
It’s paying Margate cops to patrol its parking lot on Friday and Saturday nights through the summer.
Which should disband the usual teen mob at Club Wa.
If you gottahava Wawa on a weekend, getting to the front door just got easier.
TGIF? Not at Penn State, at least not last week.
No matter how Penn State-proud you are, last Friday couldn’t have been fun.
On campus, trustees met for six hours that day, figuring out how to respond to the fraternity malfeasance that ended in the horrid death of pledge Tim Piazza. A death in which authorities say a Malvern teen played a leading role. (In addition to assorted frat crackdowns, the school announced that it would take a national leadership role in “comprehensive reform.”)
Meanwhile, that very same Friday, the university’s former president was being sentenced for his role in the Sandusky sexual-abuse coverup in a Harrisburg courtroom. (Graham Spanier received jail time for misdemeanor child endangerment.)
Not so Happy (in the) Valley.
Complicating matters: two powerful Penn State constituencies have been rocked by the scandals. Namely, the school’s gigantic sports program (cha-ching), and, in the Piazza death, that enduring (and these days, less-than-endearing) campus staple, Greek life.
Drybar blows into Ardmore
That hum in the air around Suburban Square is the sound of so many yellow blowdryers blasting.
Drybar, the gold (OK, yellow) standard in blow-dry salons, is now open for your frizz-fighting pleasure.
No cuts, no colors. Just shampoos and whole lotta hot air.
Call or book online (there’s an app for that!), then saunter in, peruse the cocktail list and pick your poison.
Anyone for, a loose-curled Cosmo (wink wink)?
A beachy-waved Mai Tai?
Or how about a big-haired Southern Comfort?
Each look will set you back $45, plus tip. (“Uptinis” are $90; “Shirley Temples” for under-agers are $28.)
BTW, prices vary by zip code. By our count, the steepest are in Las Vegas ($49/blowout) and lowest are in Louisiana and Kentucky ($40).
Or be a big-shot “barfly” and put it on your tab. Barfly Club members pay $80 month for two blowouts, a birthday freebie and product discounts.
Right next to SoulCycle, Drybar aims to put you on spin cycle. As in: Spin. Sweat. Wash. Dry. Repeat.
Drybar, 4 Coulter Ave., Ardmore, 610-321-3035.
Deconstructed Living leaving Wayne
There’s no time like today to check in to Deconstructed Living in downtown Wayne. And not just on Facebook.
You won’t be alone.
Owner Audra Fine tells SAVVY she’s lost her lease and folks are flooding in for her 30-percent-off-everything sale.
With her home-design biz taking off, Audra has decided to take a retail timeout. But that’s not to say she won’t “pop up with a new store” one day.
Meantime, everything – practically down to the studs – is for sale.
The winner of several “Best of” nods, DL’s been selling artisanal, industrial-chic home décor, gift and personal accessories since 2010 – a few years before they became a design flavor of the decade.
Inventory was arriving as recently as last week, so the bargain-hunting should prove happy.
Deconstructed Living, 201 E. Lancaster Ave. at Louella Court, Wayne, 610-975-8908, will close on or before July 30.
Big-hearts pitch in for ailing Conestoga teacher
Pledges are pouring in to the GoFundMe for longtime Stoga Spanish teacher, Tim Husband, who’s battling ALS, a disease with no cure.
At press time, 208 folks had pledged nearly $14,000 in 12 days to help Tim and his husband, Mike, pay for a minivan with wheelchair lift, among other expenses.
Huz has to be touched by the heartfelt sentiments that are coming in with the cash.
Words like these: “Never has there been a more fun loving, compassionate, genuine, funny or all-around wonderful man…your class was always my favorite and hands down you were the most influential teacher I had at ‘Stoga. Sending you so much love and strength!!! Xoxox”
Perfect pair: Fine wine and fine art
Here’s a match made in culture-vulture heaven: Fine wine from Savona and fine art at Wentworth Gallery.
Both masterworks worth savoring, right?
And so much better when enjoyed together.
Savona Sommelier Michele Konopi took her wines on the road June 4 for Wentworth’s show “Rembrandt to Rauschenberg: 400 Years of Master Prints.”
A little Marc Chagall with a side of Chardonnay?
Or whimsical Joan Miro with a sip of Spanish Cava?
Don’t mind if we do.
Gallery Director Tom Curley explained the art; Michele talked wine.
“The main reason I fell in love with wine was because it was a unique form of art,” Michele tells SAVVY, “Just as paintings capture a moment in time, so does wine … you taste the weather, the soil, the air from each vintage.”
Next up at Wentworth on June 11: Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s abstract art and pop-art maestro Peter Max. Rock on, Summer of Love, baby. Who’s bringing the wine?
Here comes the sun (just in time)
Fab news, folks. The sun, a no-show of late, has RSVP’d “yes” to this weekend’s outdoor happenings. Among them:
- WXPN’s Wayne Music Festival. 12 bands, 3 stages, restaurant samplings. N. Wayne Ave., 2 til 10 Saturday. Fireworks at 10. I“Prefestival kickoff” shows inside local bars Friday night at 9 and “AfterFest shows” Saturday night at 10:30.
- Art in the Alley. Local artists, live painting, “food and drink. 17 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, near Merion Art, Saturday, 5 – 8 p.m.
- NoBA Launch. Art space/gallery opening, food trucks, music. 210 Bala Ave., Bala Village, Saturday, 11-4.
- Radnor Conservancy Race for Open Space. 5K off-road trail race, 1-mile walk, fun runs & games for kids. Willows and Skunk Hollow parks, Sunday (National Trails Day!) at 9.
- Steps to Cure Sarcoma, 5K and 1-mile walk/runs, raffles, DJ, awards. Wilson Farm Park, Sunday, register from 7:30 a.m.
Simple home spruce-ups, courtesy of SAVVY sponsor, Melanie Lark Design
Sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes.
Like a fairy godmother with great taste, Melanie (“Lan”) Lark will wave her wand around your tired old pumpkin of a house. For six hours, she’ll move furniture, re-hang art, tweak accessories, maybe show you an updated paint color or two.
Bippidi-boppidi-boo: You’ve got a smarter, more stylish abode.
A home that makes you happy. And proud.
A rather stellar return on your $950 investment, right?
“People love this,” Melanie tells SAVVY. “Clients are always telling me, ‘I never would have thought of that and that they wish they’d brought me in ten years ago.’”
Melanie says her “Design Refresh” service lets you tip a toe into the professional home-design waters.
You can always start small – doggie paddle and stay there – with Melanie.
Or you can make a bigger splash with a complete, ceiling-to-floor re-design.
Four of Melanie’s quick (and free!) decorating tips:
- Say it’s summer with more than flowers: fairy lights on a backyard tree, a new color on the front door, pillows on a porch bench.
- Change at least one spot with the seasons: your foyer table, your mantle, your sofa pillows.
- Keep table lamps flanking your bed or sofa the same height. Boost the shorter one with a hardcover book.
- For maximum punch, group your artwork together in a gallery wall.
Melanie Lark Design, 1344 Argyle Rd., Berwyn, 610-283-4973. (Say you saw her on SAVVY and you’ll get an extra hour of Design Refresh time.)
Like what we did for Melanie Lark Design?
If your business is super savvy, talk to us about becoming a SAVVY sponsor so we can crow about you, too. (Email [email protected])
A SAVVY hello to Bella James McBride of Bryn Mawr
So what if you were born Tuesday and weigh just 8-and-a-half pounds. If the apple didn’t fall far, you’ll be sending us scoops in no time, just like your super-sleuthing SAVVY Street Team mom Aly Ricker McBride.
Welcome to the SAVVY Main Line family, Baby Bella! And please pass along our congrats to mom, dad and big sis!