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Andy Cohen and Jeff Lewis Argue Over ‘RHOC’ Season 18 Casting

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Jeff Lewis is demanding answers from Andy Cohen about casting for season 18 of The Real Housewives of Orange County.

“Why not bring back Taylor Armstrong?” Lewis, 53, asked Cohen, 55, when he stopped by Sirius XM’s Jeff Lewis Live on Wednesday, December 20. “That just seems like a good value. You weren’t paying her that much. I think she was giving you guys, I mean, a lot. Why would you not bring her back? What is that reasoning?”

In response, Cohen simply said, “I don’t know,” prompting Lewis to shoot back: “Why [does] nobody consult me?”

Armstrong, 52 — who appeared as a “friend” during season 17 of the Bravo series — previously told Lewis she had “no idea” why she wasn’t asked back for more episodes.

Related: Former ‘RHOC’ Stars: Where Are They Now?

Every orange can’t last forever! Following exits from OG star Vicki Gunvalson, Tamra Judge and Jo De La Rosa, Us Weekly is revisiting favorite former Real Housewives of Orange County stars. After 14 seasons on the Bravo series, Vicki announced in January 2020 that she was leaving the show. The news came after Tamra was […]

“I was actually pretty surprised, and it was a great year and [I] got to know the girls and we’re gonna maintain our friendships, but I was quite surprised,” she told the radio personality during an appearance on his show earlier this month.

Lewis also grilled Cohen about RHOC relegating Vicki Gunvalson to guest status on season 17. Gunvalson, 61, was a main cast member for the reality show’s first 13 seasons before getting demoted to a “friend” for season 14. After sitting out seasons 15 and 16, she returned as a guest for season 17.

“Just give [Vicki] an orange for f—k sake,” Lewis joked, referring to the citrus fruits that the main cast members hold in the show’s intro. “You just keep bringing her back as a ‘friend.’ She doesn’t wanna come back as a ‘friend.’”

Real Housewives Who Have Been Demoted Over the Years

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While Vicki Gunvalson’s demotion may have shocked fans, she isn’t the first Real Housewife to get reduced screen time. Several stars of the popular Bravo franchise have been forced to take the backseat after joining the cast. (Fun Fact: Brandi Glanville is the only Housewife to go from “friend” to “full-time” without being part of […]

Cohen defended Gunvalson’s current role on RHOC, saying: “I thought last season was a great amount of Vicki. I thought she came in, she came out. She was fun. She’s light as a feather.”

Gunvalson, however, told Page Six earlier this month that she isn’t interested in being merely a “friend” again.

“I went on as good faith, thinking I would show the network that I love them, I love filming [and to show] my value,” she said. “But if I go back [as a ‘friend’], it looks thirsty.”

Lewis then asked Cohen whether Alexis Bellino will be back for season 18. Bellino, 46, last appeared on the show as a guest during season 14, and was a main cast member for seasons 5 through 8.

Although Cohen didn’t give a concrete answer, he did address Bellino’s budding romance with John Janssen, who previously dated RHOC star Shannon Beador from 2019 to 2022. (Bellino and Janssen, 59, were seen exchanging a kiss while hanging on a boat with friends over the weekend in a video obtained by Instagram fan account @Bravoandcocktails.)

“That’s wild. I mean, John Janssen is, like, heading into Slade Smiley territory,” Cohen said.

Smiley, 50, briefly dated Lauri Peterson after ending his engagement to her fellow RHOC personality Jo De La Rosa in 2007. Smiley is now engaged to another RHOC alum, Gretchen Rossi, whom he began dating in 2009. The pair share daughter Skylar, 4.

Cohen may not have commented on Bellino possibly returning to RHOC, but he did acknowledge that she has “a lot of ties” to the current cast members.

“She and Tamra [Judge] made up at BravoCon, and then she and Heather [Dubrow] have gotten close over the last few years,” he said.

When asked who else is returning for season 18, Cohen merely teased, “Wait and see.”

A release date for season 18 of The Real Housewives of Orange County, which also stars Judge, 56, Beador, 59, Dubrow, 54, Emily Simpson, Jennifer Pedranti, and Gina Kirschenheiter, has not yet been announced.

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