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Bravo called in the boss to weigh in on the viral frenzy surrounding the Vanderpump Rules offscreen drama that has been rocking the Bravo-verse.
On Wednesday, when Lisa Vanderpump flew to New York for a last-minute appearance on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live!, the Vanderpump Rules reality star, executive producer and restaurateur had a message for the reality show’s fan base after news broke about two castmembers having an affair.
“I don’t agree with [vigilante justice] at all,” she told the host when asked by Cohen about the passionate reaction fans are having on social media. “These are people living their life in a public forum, which is very difficult. There is so much infidelity in the world — it’s not like they murdered anyone. It’s a show. But, they’re all hurting. And I’m not saying we should let them off the hook. Condemn their actions, but don’t condemn the people. All this aggression, it can have serious ramifications. I really mean that. I think everybody should be very careful about that.”
Last week, news broke that Vanderpump Rules star Tom Sandoval and co-star Raquel Leviss were having an affair, unbeknownst to Sandoval’s longtime partner and fellow co-star Ariana Madix. With the currently airing 10th season of Vanderpump Rules having already wrapped filming, Cohen has confirmed that Bravo fired up cameras again to catch the fallout for viewers in real time. The events will be addressed on the upcoming reunion show, which is hosted by Cohen and filming in two weeks, per a source close to production. The season will also be extended by at least one episode, adds the source.
The news has left Madix “devastated, gobsmacked, flabbergasted … a lot of tears,” confirmed Vanderpump, who has filmed with Madix since the news broke. Adding that Madix did not see the affair coming, she said of her former employee, “I think we need to hear the details. If [the affair happened] in her bed, in her house, downstairs, if it’s all those sordid details [that are being reported], I think she’s not going to forgive them. In fact, I know she’s never going to forgive them.”
News of the affair sent the Vanderpump Rules cast, including Katie Maloney, Scheana Shay, Lala Kent, and ex-castmember Kristen Doute to Madix’s side. The reality stars, also including Leviss’ ex, co-star James Kennedy, have been flooding social media with their impassioned reactions and sordid details of what they know, which has incited fan responses and has resulted in ongoing headlines about the offscreen drama. Even celebrities are hooked on the unfolding saga and, as Cohen pointed out, “legit” news outlets are covering the events.
The situation, however, is complicated by the fact that Vanderpump is in business with Sandoval and co-star Tom Schwarz, as they are partners in her TomTom restaurant, one of her several L.A. establishments featured on Vanderpump Rules.
On WWHL, Vanderpump rejected “cancel culture” being aimed at Sandoval amid threats to boycott his and Schwarz’s new restaurant, Schwartz & Sandy’s, which Vanderpump has no business stake in but has been featured on the current season. She also said she has not made any decisions about buying them out of TomTom amid the scandal.
“It’s so quick and feels like such a rough and bumpy ride. I haven’t really made any decisions about anything,” she said, adding, “I like to see growths in reality television. I think sometimes it would be more interesting to see these young people learn from their mistakes.”
The reality boss, however, does plan to suss out how much Schwarz knew about the affair when they film the reunion. “He tries to placate everything; he plays both sides,” she said of Schwarz possibly protecting his business partner. “I think they are so close that he knew something. We’ll find out.”
The scandal has prompted two social media apologies from Sandoval and one from Leviss, who has reportedly hired crisis management and legal teams. TMZ also reported an alleged physical altercation between Leviss and co-star Shay. “I think she slapped her around the chops,” said Vanderpump of the reports. “But you know what, her feelings would be running really high because Ariana was [Scheana’s] best friend for like 12 years. You forget, it’s not just the show. They were working together four or five years before; they grew up together. So she very much has Ariana’s back.”
Shay’s attorney refuted the allegation in a statement to THR, saying, in part, about Leviss’ request for a restraining order: “Scheana never punched Ra[qu]el, period. … The judge has only heard a one-sided account of what happened, and we look forward to presenting the full and true story at the March 29 hearing.”
Vanderpump Rules is currently airing its 10th season after launching in 2013 as a spinoff to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which at the time featured Vanderpump as a main castmember. She left that show in 2019 after clashing with her co-stars and has continued on with the hit spinoff series.
The series has yet to be renewed for season 11, but Vanderpump says original series star Sandoval will have a lot of apologizing to do at the reunion to determine how the audience and cast will feel about a return.
“Well, obviously, [he apologized a second time] because he had some kind of reaction to the first apology that he felt it was necessary to apologize to Ariana. But I don’t think these apologies are really worth the paper or the social media they’re written on,” she said. “I want to see true contrition and I hope that when the reunion comes, we can actually all sit down and can have a better understanding of why this happened — and when this happened.”
As for Leviss, Vanderpump sounded less forgiving. “I didn’t clearly know who she was,” she said, referencing Leviss’ behavior in recent episodes. “She stuck her toe in the Peter [Madrigal] pond, she snubbed Oliver [son to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Garcelle Beauvais], she schmoozed with [Tom] Schwarz, and then she shagged Sandoval. It’s really so upsetting, I have to say. … If it wasn’t sad, it would be funny. But I can’t really see the funny side of it because there’s so much fallout.”
Vanderpump was also not sure if Madix took her advice to financially protect herself after Sandoval took out a home equity loan to help get Schwartz & Sandy’s up and running. “This is a 10-, 11-, 12-year relationship. They have a home together. They have businesses together,” she added.
In Sandoval’s first apology, he said he would be stepping back and taking a “hiatus” from his restaurant. He later added in his apology aimed at Madix, “The choices I made hurt so many people. I acted in a way that clashes with who and how I want to be.” Leviss has posted two apology notes, stressing that her feelings for Sandoval “have always been sincere and born out of a loving friendship.” In her first apology, she said she had been physically assaulted and has received death threats, and that she was speaking to a counselor to address “patterns of codependency and addiction to being and feeling loved.”
When asked if she thinks the pair are truly in love after their reported months-long affair, Vanderpump told Cohen, “I don’t know. It’s been going on such a long time, that’s what’s so shocking to me.”
Despite the serious nature of the topics at hand, Vanderpump still brought her signature sense of humor to the late night clubhouse. In addition to joking about replacing Sandoval as bartender at TomTom, the entrepreneurial reality talent took a dig at her former series when asked if she would consider coming back to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, now that her foe Lisa Rinna has left the show.
“Did she leave or was she fired?” said Vanderpump. Cohen, shaking his head, replied, “She’s on a brief pause.”
Vanderpump continued, “I know she was fired, just admit it. No one ever leaves that show, the money they make? We’ve talked about it, you’ve said the door is always open and you’re kind of on the right path — with one gone, there’s just a few more to go.”
March 9, 2 p.m. Updated to include a statement from Scheana Shay’s attorney Neama Rahmani.
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