If you think Kris Jenner and her Kardashians have it easy, think again.
“We have thick skin. You have to in this business,” said the star, wife, mother, and “momager”—a word she has trademarked—of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and three spinoff television shows on the E! cable network. “There’s definitely a lot of haters. It’s like being cyberbullied on the Internet sometimes, where people just think that they can say everything.”
The 57-year-old impresario and chief strategist of the Kardashian plan for world domination, who headlined a Q&A Tuesday during Advertising Week’s 10th anniversary conference, admitted that sometimes the trash talk gets to her and she can’t resist the urge to lash out.
“You have to realize that half the people saying this stuff are about 12 years old, sitting on their mom’s computer,” Jenner confided to an overflow crowd at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. “I think I’ve tried to engage with these people five times. One of them was last week. And I write back and say—I won’t say what I would say,” she teased, adding that her detractors, whatever their age, are “a bunch of bullies.”
“But if I get a little cranky with somebody, then it’s ‘I was just kidding, Kris! I love you! Can I have a job?’ They really just want to be paid attention to,” she said.
Jenner, whose top-rated reality show, starting its ninth season, is seen in 150 countries around the planet, obviously doesn’t suffer from attention deficit disorder—not that sort, anyway. She has parlayed collateral celebrity—as a Los Angeles socialite who two decades ago divorced the late defense attorney Robert Kardashian, BFF of O.J. Simpson and father of Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Robert Jr., to marry Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner—into actual celebrity and more than $65 million in annual family income.
As one of the more prominent trash-talkers remarked recently, “You see that and you think, ‘What, you mean all I have to do is behave like a fucking idiot on television and then you’ll pay me millions?’ I’m not judging it. Well, I am, obviously.” (So far, despite Jenner’s demand of an apology, it apparently has not been forthcoming from James Bond actor Daniel Craig.)
At the Hard Rock Café, where she modeled a glam-looking red knit dress with matching sweater and submitted herself to the gentle questioning of advertising executive Scott Donaton, Jenner also went after celebrity tabloids and blogs that publish this and that.
“People think if they just start talking about or mention the word ‘Kardashian’ or ‘Jenner’ or ‘Odom’ and write sensational things or ugly things, then that’s going to draw people,” said Jenner, who claims nearly 3.4 million Twitter followers of the more than 60 million who cumulatively follow her family. “It’s just an attention-getter.”
Jenner went on: “I was at the airport yesterday and reading all about Khloe’s secret baby. And I went, ‘Oh, is it a boy or a girl?’ And it is so silly sometimes that you just have to go, ‘WHAT?’ But that sells magazines or it sells a story for the websites that are just crazy, that write whatever. It’s amazing how many clicks they get because they’ve said this wild thing. But if you read the article they [don’t] back it up and it’s ‘just kidding’ basically by the end of the story.”
Jenner did concede, however, that before reading the various Twitter feeds of her progeny—including Kendall and Kylie, her teenage daughters with Bruce—to find out what everybody’s up to, she checks in regularly with a certain scandalous website to make sure nothing’s amiss.
“First I go to TMZ and say, ‘OL, we’re good today.’”
In an interview that focused on Kim’s, Kourtney’s, and Khloe’s fashion line and fragrances, Robert Jr.’s success as a sock designer (yes, sock designer), and Kylie and Kendall’s modeling career, plus Kris’s hope that Fox Television picks up her summer talk show, Donaton tactfully avoided grilling her about son-in-law Lamar Odom’s reported adventures in rehab or the short-tempered paparazzi-smacking of Kim’s baby daddy Kanye West.
Instead he drew her out on what it’s like to be both a person and a brand.
West, who has been living from time to time in the Jenner mansion in Hidden Hills, California, put it best, she suggested. “The one thing he’s said about the branding—I thought Kanye’s and our brand would be so different—is that our brand is now family and it’s love,” Jenner said. “And that’s what I want our brand to be.”