More than 18 months after cameras last rolled on “Vanderpump Rules,” and after several seismic firings in the off-season that have changed the main cast, the Bravo docusoap is scheduled to begin filming next month, a spokesperson for the network confirmed to Variety.
This announcement flies in the face of the widely disseminated misinformation in blogs that the show had been scrapped forever. There had also been speculation that Bravo might change its name, but nope — “Vanderpump Rules” it is.
Season 8 of the show, which revolves around the staff of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants, concluded in June of last year. That month coincided with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, which drew renewed attention to racist past remarks by longtime cast members Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute, as well as Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni, who were new to “Vanderpump Rules.” On June 9, Bravo and Evolution Media, the show’s production company, fired all four of them.
Jax Taylor had also called Faith Stowers, a Black former “Vanderpump Rules” castmate, a criminal, as had Schroeder and Doute (who’d called the police on Stowers for a crime she’d had nothing to do with). In a 2017 tweet that was resurfaced after their firings, Taylor wrote of Stowers, “She’s wanted by the police for grand theft auto and ‘awol’ from military, bad idea to be on a reality show dude… Someone’s going to jail.”
Six months after Doute and Schroeder were fired, Taylor was also fired, as was his wife, Brittany Cartwright.
So who’s left? There’s Vanderpump, of course, along with Tom Schwartz and Katie Maloney, and Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix —or, if you prefer, the central couple of Tom and Tom, and their partners. Scheana Shay, who has carried the show on her back from the start, is also returning. Lala Kent is back, as are James Kennedy and Raquel Leviss (one of Season 8’s bright lights). Shay is soon to give birth (according to Us Weekly, she’s in labor as of this posting), and Kent had a baby in March, so expect stories about being new parents. (Had new mothers Schroeder and Cartwright not been axed from the show, there would have been a “Vanderpump Rules” baby boom.)
New cast members — staffers at Vanderpump’s restaurants — will be announced later, once it becomes clear whose stories are working on the show.
Filming the ninth season of “Vanderpump Rules” was contingent on Los Angeles opening up when the COVID-19 pandemic started to ebb, since the show is reliant on Vanderpump’s restaurants being open (despite the fact that most of the cast no longer truly work there). According to a network spokesperson, “‘Vanderpump Rules’ will resume production with a comprehensive health and safety plan. The plan was developed in accordance with CDC guidance, all state and local orders, as well as NBCUniversal’s own safety guidelines. The health and safety of the cast and crew is the priority of Bravo for all of its shows.”
Both SUR and Pump have reopened, and TomTom —the West Hollywood bar/restaurant that Schwartz and Sandoval own with Vanderpump, which relies more on crowds — will follow suit soon, perhaps on camera.
It will be interesting to see how Bravo and “Vanderpump Rules” producers revive the show creatively, especially in the absence of two of the main drivers of its plot — namely, the pot-stirring Taylor and Schroeder. Season 8 of “Vanderpump Rules” performed well in ratings, but the production had to go to great lengths to manufacture the connection between Vanderpump and most of the cast, who once worked for her, but mostly no longer do. But perhaps the absence of Taylor and his erratic bullying — watch him here say “I’m the No. 1 guy in this group” — will cause a renaissance.
Note: This story was updated with specifics of what Jax Taylor said about Faith Stowers.