Kris Jenner took the stand for the second day in the $100M defamation trial brought on by Blac Chyna, the ex-fiancé of her son, Rob Kardashian. Chyna sued the Kardashian family in 2017, claiming they ruined her reality TV career. She has accused Jenner — the grandmother of her and Kardashian’s five-year-old daughter, Dream — of being the ringleader who facilitated a master plan to axe Chyna from E!’s airwaves because the famous family had a vendetta against her.
Chyna, a model and influencer whose real name is Angela White, says the Kardashian-Jenners are responsible for cancelling Season 2 of the former couple’s reality show, “Rob & Chyna,” which aired on E! for one season in 2016. But Jenner says there was nothing to cancel because the show was never renewed.
“They had an option that they didn’t exercise,” Jenner said on the stand, explaining to the jury that as her son’s manager, she would have been privy to any notice coming from the network informing him, as talent, that the series had been greenlit for Season 2. “He never got a letter,” she said. “There was nothing to cancel.”
Jenner was questioned at-length about a violent fight that led to the unraveling of her son and Chyna’s relationship. At one point while they were together, Chyna allegedly choked Kardashian with a phone cord and held a gun to his head, which Chyna had described as a “joke” when testifying about the incident earlier this week. That altercation was the matter that essentially killed the couple’s show, according to testimony from Jenner and TV execs behind the series.
During testimony, Jenner recalled being “very upset” in the “horrific moment” and said Kardashian was “hysterically crying” in the aftermath of the alleged assault. “I was heartbroken,” Jenner said of the situation between her son and Chyna. “I can’t imagine how that must feel to have a gun pointed at your head.” Jenner also testified that Chyna threw a chair at Kardashian’s car when he was trying to drive away after the fight, and that Kardashian told her Chyna had hit him with a metal pole. When asked about contacting law enforcement, Jenner said she did not call the police because she felt if the fight escalated, her personal security could handle things, and they didn’t want to call the cops on Chyna because they were “trying to figure it out as a family.”
Jenner cried on the stand when explaining that the alleged gun incident between her son and Chyna occurred just two months after her daughter Kim Kardashian’s Paris robbery, where she was held up at gunpoint and tied up with duct tape in her hotel room in 2016. “To have another one of my children having a gun to his head…It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. My daughter was traumatized for the rest of her life,” Jenner said through tears, as Kim Kardashian looked on in a stoic fashion. “I’m a mom, I have 11 grandchildren,” Jenner tearfully said.
Being questioned by Chyna’s lawyer, Lynne Ciani, Jenner explained that although she believed Chyna wanted to “murder” her son when she says she assaulted him, everyone involved was just “trying to fix a very broken-down relationship.” Jenner explained: “We had built this brand for ourselves and had this beautiful show…this was just a horrible, horrible situation.” Bristling at the notion that she schemed to have Chyna taken off of television, Jenner firmly told Chyna’s attorney: “We didn’t get Chyna a show and give her this fabulous life to take it away…We wanted Chyna to take this opportunity…I was so hopeful that this was going to be okay.”
The trial, which began on Monday and is expected to last 10 days, has been messy, with personal matters being aired in front of a jury. Chyna’s relationship and breakup with Kardashian has drawn tabloid attention over the years, particularly in 2017 when a “revenge porn” feud caused Instagram to shut down Kardashian’s social media accounts after he posted pornographic images that had been privately exchanged between him and Chyna, which caused Chyna to obtain a restraining order against him.
However, on the fifth day of the trial, personal matters turned to business matters with witnesses being called from Hollywood’s high ranking of unscripted television. Aside from Jenner testifying, reality TV executive Jeff Jenkins, who launched “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” also testified.
“They were not speaking,” Jenkins testified of Kardashian and Chyna. “They wanted nothing to do with each other, they were not living with each other. It was just over.” Jenkins said the show was sold on the premise of a new couple building a new life together, a la MTV’s “Newlyweds” with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. In fact, Jenkins said the original working title for the show was, “Rob & Chyna In Love.”
Jenkins — who was co-president of Bunim Murray Productions, the production company behind the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” franchise — testified remotely, giving the jury a sense of the inner-workings of reality TV and sharing how “Rob & Chyna” came to be. He recalled the first meeting with the then-couple, raving about how happy they were together. He then recalled hearing from production that they had gotten into a “really bad fight” where Chyna strangled Rob with a phone cord. After the fight, Jenkins said the notion of a second season would have been impossible. He even said he tried to help diffuse the situation by suggesting the couple go to therapy, but Chyna declined. “Fuck no. Fuck that. Fuck Rob. I’m not doing that,” Jenkins remembered Chyna saying, when he was trying to save the show. After that conversation, he knew the show couldn’t possibly move forward, despite “solid” ratings. Jenkins explained to the jury that green lighting or cancelling a show is solely the network’s decision — not the production company or the talent.
“The network can make a decision to not pick up a show, to cancel a show, to shelve a show,” Jenkins said when being question by the Kardashian lawyer, Michael G. Rhodes. “They have 100% control at any time.” He added that the show couldn’t be picked up for a second season because there was simply “no more Rob and Chyna.”
Aside from Jenkins, Ryan Seacrest, an executive producer from E!’s “Rob & Chyna,” is also on the witness list, among other Hollywood executives from E!, NBCUniversal and Bunim-Murray. On Friday, former E! president Adam Stotsky’s name was brought up conversationally during testimony, along with E!’s Jeff Olde, Frances Berwick, who is chairman of entertainment networks at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, and Bunim-Murray’s Farnaz Farjam, one of the top producers who helped bring “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” to life, over its 15-year run.
Defendants in the case are Rob Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who are all expected to take the stand during the trial. Rob has not been present in court, but the rest of the women have been in attendance every day, quietly observing. On Friday, Kris, Kim, Khloé and Kylie all looked as if they could have been shooting a new episode of their show (they’re not; cameras are not allowed in the courtroom) wearing impeccably tailored suits, but with the casual touch of white sneakers. While relatively understated, their hair and makeup was picture-perfect. Kris wore a baby pink suit with a matching light pink Birkin crocodile bag and put on reading glasses as she read her testimony aloud. Kim, who is studying to become a lawyer, looked very studious with a legal pad, taking notes from the gallery for the entirety of the day. Chyna, in full glam, made the courtroom her runway, dressed in a glamorous white suit, supported by a small entourage of friends sitting behind her in the gallery with one individual holding her handbag, as she sat up at the plaintiff’s table, next to her attorney.
Texts between Jenner and the showrunner from “Rob & Chyna” were displayed by Chyna’s lawyer. In one message, Jenner texted that Rob needs to “ditch this bitch.” When asked about tha text, Jenner appeared to be remorseful. “I was very angry, very upset and very disappointed and sad,” Jenner said, adding it was “not my proudest moment…I could have probably used a nicer term.” Amid the couple’s fight, Jenner also texted the showrunner, “Take her off,” referring to Chyna, with the idea to make the show solely about Rob and his newborn daughter.
But when asked by Chyna’s lawyer if she had the power to cancel the show because her family’s programming was so incredibly lucrative for the network, Jenner said no.
“No, I did not have any influence over the E! Network,” Jenner replied.
Years after “Rob & Chyna” went off the air, Jenkins said he tried to develop a new reality show for Chyna to follow her music career (“I thought it was cool,” he said. “Move over Nicki Minaj!”) but when he pitched it to platforms like Quibi, Snapchat and Netflix, “No one picked it up,” he said. “I was rooting for her,” he added.
Jenkins also was questioned about a “pow wow” involving the show’s executives and the family where Khloé was very concerned and protective over her brother. Chyna’s lawyer said that Khloé and Kylie wrote a note to E! “demanding” cancellation of the show.
“Season 2 wasn’t cancelled,” Jenner said. “It just wasn’t picked up. There’s a big difference.”