Katz arranged a Skype call and assured Maples that, if she signed on, her storyline would not be Marla Maples, the ritzy damsel last seen on Donald’s arm. Katz assured her, “When you step onto that stage, it’s about you. “Deena told me, ‘We’ll take care of you,’ ” Maples said., which airs its season finale Tuesday night, is a massive hit, regularly the highest-rated reality show in the key 18–49 demographic., in a fur stole and with a champagne flute dangling from one hand, she was a vision.As she floated across the stage to the opening strains of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” the whole performance may as well have been a big, bedazzled middle finger to her ex-husband Donald Trump—an exhibition of her undiminished charm. Onstage, lounging on the judges’ table as tuxedoed men presented jewelry to her like an altar offering, she was ethereal, above the fray, in control. Since her marriage ended in 1999, she had been quietly raising her daughter, Tiffany Trump, in California, largely avoiding the public eye.Back then, Katz recalls, reality shows starring celebrities were “very dog-eat-dog.” There was , which first aired in 2003 and assembled a crew of has-beens like Dave Coulier and Verne Troyer so they could butt egos and confront demons under the unfriendly gaze of ’round-the-clock cameras.
And if there’s one woman responsible for the show’s success—and its unique place in the pop cultural ecosystem—it’s Deena Katz.
She’s been casting the show since it premiered in 2004.
When reached out to her last year, she was 52 and her daughter was about to graduate from college.
She worried that the public knew her name for the wrong reasons.
“Donald was a very important part of my life,” she said.
“But I wish more people remembered me as a Broadway actress.” casting director Deena Katz had heard Maples was a fan of the show.