As I told you last week, Denise Richards has exited the building, leaving in her wake an enormous, ratings sized hole in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. After a season of homophobic accusations from castmates arguing that she might have slept with Brandi Glanville, Richards threw up the deuces. On its face, the exit seems obviously tied to the foolish hubbub around her alleged affair. Now, sources claim it’s because she wanted more money. Who can really blame her?
Page Six reports that Bravo insiders are split over Richards’ abrupt departure. Some claim she abandoned negotiations for next season before they even began, effectively ending all communication with Bravo. Others, however, tell Page Six that Richards wanted an “excessive”—and I’m using the tipster’s exact language here—stack of bills to return for season 11. According to these sources:
“People think that she didn’t want to come back and that it’s because she got ‘mean-girled’ [by other cast members]. The truth is she did want to come back. But [Bravo] didn’t want to pay her what she asked for. It was way out of her pay grade.”
The curious thing is gossip blogs and Bravo insiders have claimed since Richard’s first season in 2019 that her other castmates resented her already high salary, which may have been as high as $4 million over multiple seasons. It would certainly explain the aggression they all exhibited in season 10, harping over Richards’ early exits from parties, dinners, and work functions, as well as her acting schedule. Andy Cohen also told People TV this morning that Richards and the network couldn’t reach an “agreement on the deal.”
If I were to string these pieces together, I’d guess that Richards demanded more money, claiming that the price went up for her to endure another season of Kyle Richards, Teddi Mellencamp, and Lisa Rinna’s machinations (most of which involved screaming hysterically in public.) Something like: “Sorry, babe, but homophobia costs extra!” Bravo, who already dished out a hefty sum for Richards in the first place, said no way. Knowing her value to the show, Richards then chucked those aforementioned deuces.
Besides, she did make a whole scene of dramatically ceasing filming in the final moments of the season. Was her exit really even a shock to anyone?
Sources in Richards’ camp, meanwhile, give Page Six an alternate timeline of events. “Bravo called her last week to ask her if she wanted to return, and she took a couple of days to think about it.” When Richards’ returned from her short deliberation, she was just like “no thanks everyone!” But no matter which version of events you believe, the results are the same: Richards is gone, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is facing a serious crisis.
For multiple seasons, the show has often relied on clickbait plotlines that center around a dramatic reveal, which supposedly upends either filming or the cast or both. Last season this hinged on Lisa Vanderpump’s exit from the show, after battling rumors that she may have phoned in tips to Radar Online about Dorit Kemsley... uh... giving a dog back to a shelter? It’s been a long and boring slog since, so I can barely remember anymore.
Headlines at the time, however, certainly stand out. Vanderpump abandoned filming midway through the season, and viewers were left to puzzle over who was telling the truth: Kyle Richards and Teddi Mellencamp, or WeHo’s Queen of Pink. Thinking back, it certainly sounds similar to the arc of the most reason season. A dramatic secret was revealed in the first episode—Denise had stopped filming and was finally back to film her confessionals and reveal it all—as viewers waited, week after week, for the drama’s denouement. It was an exhausting trek, as everyone collectively realized that Bravo had employed the same, tired tactics to draw viewers through a season where nothing of note really happened until those final few episodes.
Alas, now Richards is gone, and the show is once again a directionless mess of half-baked plotlines and fake businesses. Should producers find themselves in a tizzy over what to do next, I’m offering this next bit of consulting advice for free: Fire everyone, and start it all over. Should further guidance be needed, I’m taking a page out of Denise Richards’ handbook and charging for it.