BRAND NEW ON E!
Maybe it's time to call it the Real Housecleaning of New York City.
As many as four of the titular leading ladies of Bravo's Real Housewives of New York City are in imminent danger of losing their gigs, multiple sources close to the show tell E! News.
So who could be facing eviction from the series and who looks to be safe?
Producers are definitely sticking with Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan and LuAnn de Lesseps, aka The Countess.
But Jill Zarin, Kelly Bensimon and Alex McCord (and, by extension, unofficial Housewife No. 6 Simon Van Kempen) are not in Bravo's plans for the upcoming fifth season, E! News has learned. And, according to unconfirmed reports in Us Weekly and GossipCop, Cindy Barshop is also on the list of expendable players.
Officially, the cast is on lockdown and not allowed to address the matter, beyond saying that the casting for the new season hasn't been set. For instance, Bensimon's rep simply said, "Nothing has been confirmed either way."
Per Zarin's rep, "Jill is still in discussions with Bravo for season five and no final decisions have been made."
Likewise, Bravo would only tell us, "No decisions have been made yet."
Barshop's rep has yet to comment on the behind-the-scenes machinations.
However, three different sources tell us that the women all received a call from Bravo late this morning tellling them, in a nutshell, you've not been fired, but we don't really want you back.
What exactly does that mean?
"Basically by not publically firing them and keeping them dangling, Bravo's bought their silence while three new women start taping the new season in two weeks," one Real Housewives insider explains.
"Bravo found new women. Ramona [Singer] knows these women, she introduced them to Bravo. The Countess knows two as well. They wanted real New York society women. They wanted people that live in fabulous townhouses. They wanted to bring the fabulousness of Beverly Hills to New York. They want it glossier and more glamorous."
The source tells E! News that taping begins in two weeks and that if the newbies have on-screen chemistry it's a done deal that the previous Housewives will be out of work.
"On the very slim chance it doesn't work, they have these ladies on the bench waiting to come back," the source says.
Of the group of potential ousted stars, it's McCord and Van Kempen who seem to be taking the news the hardest.
"They were told late morning, Jill is in defense mode, trying to spin this to figure out how she can say she quit the show," says the source. "She'll say she wasn't coming back. She's saying she's ready to move on, she wants people to think it's her decision, saying she wants to be a business woman and not a reality star. She's very angry at both Bravo and [network executive] Andy [Cohen.]
"Alex and Simon are both shell-shocked. They didn't see it coming, they were blindsided. They've heard the rumors, but they thought they wouldn't mess with the formula that works. The show gets over 2 million viewers. They've just lost the $275,000 income they were making for the season. When Alex and Simon were not invited to do the live shows, they knew something was up. Alex is emailing and trying to stay in Bravo's good graces as she need the money."
When we caught up to Bensimon today at a Fashion Week event, she simply told us that she would not be discussing the show.
Maybe that's because she's not on it anymore?