Photo Credit: Gary Gershoff/WireImage
Bravo has finally confirmed the news that gossip columns were reporting last week: Jill Zarin, Alex McCord, Kelly Bensimon and Cindy Barshop have been dropped from The Real Housewives of New York City, presumably to be replaced by new cast members. In a press statement, the network announced that only Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan and LuAnn DeLesseps would be returning for season 5 of the popular reality show.
"We've had a fabulous run with all the ladies and appreciate them sharing their lives with our viewers," said a Bravo spokesperson. "It is a friendly departure among the other ladies and we continue to have on-going discussions with them."
What's next, then, for the axed cast members -- two of whom have been with the show since the first season in 2008? And was their departure really as "friendly" as Bravo claims?
McCord and her husband, Simon Van Kempen, don't seem to be happy campers.
"Alex and I are sad that it's come to this," Simon told the Hollywood Reporter. "We had a great four years. We don't intend for this to be the final time you'll see us on television. Everything happens for a reason. We are not happy, we're not sad. It is what it is."
Alex, 37, writes on Twitter that the couple is leaving the show "sadly but amicably." But they couldn't resist a few final digs: Alex points out that she has the highest Klout rating (a measure of social media influence) of any New York housewife, while Simon draws attention to a fan campaign to get Alex back on the show. Simon also hints that they might make a play for their own Bravo show, a la Bethenny Frankel.
"I think even Bravo is surprised by how much support Alex has had. It didn't change their opinion or didn't change their decision. And it might not be the end of seeing us on Housewives. It might not be the end of seeing us on Bravo," writes the "I Am Real" singer. "We don't know that yet either. There's a lot to be discussed in the upcoming weeks."
"It allowed me to get my brand, Completely Bare, out nationally," says the entrepreneur. "So, on the business side it was beneficial. On the personal side, I'm able to help charities more now. If I'm hosting a charity, it actually brings people in. I can make a bigger difference now than I was able to before."
Jill Zarin, 47, has announced that she'll be releasing a statement on Monday. Meanwhile, her rep says that she will soon be "announcing some very exciting new projects." And oddly enough, Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger has declared that Zarin left the show willingly because the two of them are "doing something together." Intriguing!
Kelly Bensimon, 43, has yet to speak out about the change. But all four women are busy working outside of the show: Zarin has her shapewear line, Barshop her hair removal spa brand, Bensimon has her jewelry and fashion endeavors, and McCord and Van Kempen have a new bedding and bath business, Aluxe Home.
Plus, there's always the possibility of more reality TV. Bravo has left the door open for all four women, saying, "They may be seen on the series at various times during the upcoming season." And if not -- well, we'll always have Twitter!