By Kimberly Potts
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – Has Bravo axed half the housewives in its New York franchise? “Real Housewives of New York City” star Sonja Morgan says the rumors are true, but Bravo says not so fast.
The fate of the New York cast was the subject of much debate last season, providing offstage drama before the suicide of Russell Armstrong, husband of one of the housewives in the Beverly Hills franchise.
In August, Bravo said it was delaying the New York “Housewives” fifth season “due to some production details that needed to be finalized.”
Morgan, known for her dizzy on-camera demeanor, told Us Weekly that her producer confirmed that co-stars Jill Zarin, Kelly Bensimon, Alex McCord and Cindy Barshop won’t return for the fifth season. “I’ve been invited back,” she told Us. “I found out today last minute.”
Despite Morgan’s claims, a Bravo publicist tells TheWrap that “no decisions have been made yet” about the next season of the New York series.
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But if the rumors do ultimately prove to be true, Morgan, Ramona Singer and Countess LuAnn de Lesseps are the current roster for the fifth season of “RHoNYC.”
The New York cast shakeup is just the latest “Real Housewives” franchise drama, following Armstrong’s suicide in August; the recent, lavish second wedding of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice, who reportedly donned a $25,000 gown for her “I do” redo, despite the fact that she and her husband filed for bankruptcy in 2009; and numerous divorces, real estate woes and other personal problems that became public for the “RH” stars.
Several of the supposedly cut New York housewives have also taken issue with the reports.
“There are many rumors swirling around,” McCord wrote in a joint Facebook statement with hubby Simon van Kempen on Thursday after the first reports of the cuts surfaced. “Here’s the truth — Simon & I are still under consideration for season 5 & we’ll know one way or another very soon.”
Van Kempen, via his Twitter account, wrote, “That’s not what we have been told by Bravo” in response to a query about Morgan’s apparent confirmation.
And Zarin, one of the most vocal “Real Housewives” cast members, on Thursday suggested that negotiations were still under way. “There’s no such thing as a pink slip when it comes to TV,” she said on CNN. “It’s really more of, they ask you if you’re interested in coming back, and then it’s a negotiation with the money and the time and the terms and everything.
“I think Bravo is speaking to all the housewives, and I think they are speaking to potential new housewives, and they need to figure out who is going to work with who.”
One thing not in question: Despite all the backstage drama, the franchise is still a lucrative one for Bravo.