How 'Vanderpump Rules' cheating scandal turned this lawyer into a meme
Like most lawyers, Darrell Miller prefers to remain behind the scenes when it comes to the work he does for famous clients such as Oscar nominee Angela Bassett and rapper Ludacris.
But in recent weeks the former singer turned entertainment lawyer has unwittingly become caught up in one of TV's biggest reality shows.
Earlier this month, his younger attorney colleagues informed him that his client Lala Kent, an actress turned reality star on Bravo's "Vanderpump Rules," had posted a video on Instagram that cited him by name and it had gone viral.
Her co-star Raquel Leviss — who is involved in a cheating scandal that has blown up the show's ratings — had sent to Kent's personal email account a demand letter from her attorney not to share a video of Leviss in an intimate FaceTime session she had with her co-star Tom Sandoval. Several other "Vanderpump Rules" cast members received a similar warning.
Kent was stunned, saying she had never seen the explicit video. Responding in a video she shared with her 1.9 million Instagram followers, Kent told Leviss to send the letter instead to her attorney. Within hours the "Send it to Darrell" video went viral. Her fans immediately began to re-create their own versions of Kent's rant across social media.
Kent even began selling sweatshirts emblazoned with "Send it to Darrell," with sales reaching over $100,000 in 24 hours.
A spokeswoman for Leviss declined to comment.
Miller, who learned of the trending video during a staff meeting, was caught off guard.
"I had no idea what they were talking about," said Miller, the Los Angeles-based founding chair of Fox Rothschild's Entertainment & Sports Law Department. "What have I done?"
He added: "The first day or two I remember thinking it was a humorous moment and a wild opportunity to just kind of watch the way unscripted television and social media has a life of its own."
Once the New York Post's Page Six clarified who the mystery "Darrell" was, calls started to pour in from around the country, including from some potential new clients, he said.
"What it's done clearly is raise my visibility whereas I prided myself on being kind of invisible," said Miller, 60.
Miller's newfound fame attests to the enduring appeal of one of TV's most popular reality programs.
The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” spinoff is based on the drama around staffers of Lisa Vanderpump’s West Hollywood restaurants and bars.
The cheating scandal, dubbed "Scandoval," drew the highest ratings in three years for the March 8 episode, which was seen live by 2.2 million people, double the March 1 installment, according to NBCUniversal's Bravo, which broadcasts the show. It was the second-most-streamed title last week on Peacock, which also airs the hit series "Yellowstone" and "Poker Face."
The drama started on March 3, when TMZ broke the news Sandoval had been having an affair with Leviss, despite having a girlfriend of nine years who also appears on the show, co-star Ariana Madix.
News of the affair broke after Madix discovered messages and video of Leviss on Sandoval's phone, TMZ reported. Leviss' attorneys wrote to several cast members, including Kent, warning that that video was taken without her consent, TMZ reported.
“Raquel, tell your little Mickey Mouse lawyer that if he has stuff to send over, he can send things to my lawyer, same with the rest of my friends and cast, alright?” Kent said in her since-deleted Instagram video response. "I've never in my life had a lawyer contact me, in my personal email."
“It wasn't really telling Raquel to send it to Darrell as if she would even know who he was. I was just on a roll with whatever was coming out of my mouth, and the next line was ‘Send it to Darrell,' who's obviously my soldier," Kent said in an interview. "You're not getting to me without going through Darrell and good luck with that.”
Kent had retained Miller around 2017 at the recommendation of her manager, Karen Kinney, in Season 5 of the show.
“I felt like not only was he going to protect me, from legal standpoints and business standpoints, but also look out for my future,” she said.
She became tearful describing how Miller vouched for her in negotiations to join a new unscripted show — a proposal brought to her by Miller. Kent has signed up to appear on the untitled show about couples who have been deeply deceived by their partners. “My awareness for red flags is on high alert,“ Kent said.
Kent's breakup with film producer Randall Emmett, the subject of a Times investigation, has also been wrapped up with the reality show. The couple were together for nearly six years and had a daughter before their relationship ended in 2021, after what Kent believed was infidelity by Emmett, which he denied.
In his pitch to the studio for the prospective show, Miller said any deal would "have to be worth it" for Kent to take time away from her daughter.
“A lot of people go out, and they fight for their client because they know that their percentage is going to be taken on," Kent said. "Not many people are taking people's families into consideration. This is a good human being that I always want on my team.”
Miller says the approach comes naturally to him.
"I really try to be a strategist and have them [clients] think long-term, and particularly when they have families," Miller said. "How they build their careers, what deals they do, how they think about ownership. It's something that I've advocated for my entire professional career."
Tara Long, president of eOne's unscripted department, which makes the shows "Ladygang" and "Streets of Compton," says Miller's personal touch separates him from other entertainment attorneys. The two had worked together on the 2012 reality show "Mary Mary."
"Good lawyers always get what they want for their clients, but with Darrell, it's an enjoyable process," Long said, adding that Miller is a good connector of people. "He's always closing deals and trying to drive new business."
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Miller studied musical theater and classical voice, graduating from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. After touring overseas in a musical in India, Egypt and across Europe, Miller returned to the U.S. with a dream of becoming a producer, and getting a law degree was part of that plan. Miller graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1990.
He started his legal career in civil litigation but didn't like the adversarial nature of the work and shifted to become an entertainment industry attorney.
"I wanted to combine my artistic experiences with my law experiences and do exactly what I am doing, advocate for creators and work with companies in entertainment," Miller said.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.