In the stratosphere of the massively popular Real Housewives, casting changes are commonplace. Seeing veteran Housewives depart the show, new favorites join, and sometimes former Housewives being resurrected and returning to the show are part of what keeps us turning into the decade and a half long franchise, which shows no signs of slowing down. This weekend, massive casting changes came to The Real Housewives of Orange County, as both Vicki Gunvalson (“The OG of the OC”) and veteran cast member Tamra Barney both departed the show. As rumors swirl about the new direction the show could take (including several new Housewives joining the fray) an exclusive source sat down with me to chat about the changes that have occurred and the surprising ones that just might be coming.
Michael Cook: So the word is out; Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge are out officially from The Real Housewives of Orange County. (US Weekly reports that Judge left after being offered a “part time role”, while Gunvalson was not asked to return to the series at all) Have you heard what the real word is as to why they’re gone?
Bravo wanted to shake things up and they knew that Tamra and Vicki’s “friendship” wasn’t a sticking point with the audience anymore. The producers had grown tired of Vicki’s demands and diva attitude and Tamra’s personal family life has never really been a huge interest to producers. She was a pot stirrer, but one that fans couldn’t relate to or get behind. (Note-the heavy rumor is also that Gina Kerschenheiter is not returning as a full-time Housewife, although information is minimal at this time)
MC: Behind the scenes, what is the vibe as a whole with all the changes that are possibly occurring?
For one, Shannon (Beador) was completely blindsided. She thought at least Tamra would be back. Shannon was the second lady issued a contract and Tamra was pissed. Tamra is usually the first out the gate. Kelly (Dodd) and Emily (Simpson) are ecstatic that Tamra is no longer in the picture. Shannon will be the one on the outs, so it will be interesting how that dynamic of Shannon being the sole surviving “Amiga” mending relationships works. Braunwyn (Windham-Burke) is going to be the bridge this season, plus one of the newbies (currently testing) is great friends with Braunwyn.
MC: For those keeping track, who does that leave us that is officially coming back to #RHOC? Do we know who has filmed so far?
As of now Kelly, Shannon, Braunwyn and Emily have filmed. but with six newbies testing it is definitely an open field. Rumors of an ex-HW coming back are circling (Alexis Bellino)? It’s very early in filming, and most of the filming happening has been solos, but Kelly and Emily have filmed together.
MC: What do we know about possible new cast members that might be joining? Any scoop on who they are?
Two of the ladies are friends with Braunwyn, two of Emily’s close friends, and two that I think may be an ex-Housewives. I’m certain Alexis is being talked to, but interestingly enough, Emily is hoping Lizzie will he asked back. (Note: Heavy casting rumors so far are that Elizabeth Vargas who is friends with Braunwyn and lives in Kelly’s neighborhood, as well as Katrina Reiter, a friend of Braunwyn’s).
MC: It is truly the end of an era for The Real Housewives of Orange County. Do you think this the last we have heard from Tamra and Vicki from what you are hearing?
No way! Tamra will definitely pop in, but I don’t think it will be this season. I have heard she’s currently burning a lot of bridges with producers, Bravo, and Andy Cohen. Vicki not so sure… the show seems done with her. It’s almost as if she will be the first Housewife in the Housewives Hall of Fame, but as for her days holding an orange they are over.
The information in this article is unconfirmed by the network at press time.
Season 15 of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” premiere date is TBD
Art Courtesy of Bravo/NBC Universal