Bravo has certainly had to navigate nasty legal disputes among cast members before in order to film reunions, since certain members of “The Real Housewives” community do love sending cease-and-desist notices. But never before has one castmate taken out a temporary restraining order against another, as is the case with “Vanderpump Rules” — with Raquel Leviss having alleged that Scheana Shay physically assaulted her on March 2.
On March 8, Leviss’ request for a TRO was granted by a judge, which put the March 23 filming of the “Vanderpump Rules” reunion into question. (Shay denied the allegation, saying through her attorney, “Scheana never punched Rachel, period.”)
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On her Instagram stories on Wednesday, Leviss, despite that restraining order, asserted, “Yes, I will be attending the reunion tomorrow in person.”
And on Thursday morning, Shay’s attorney — still committed to the shade of calling Raquel “Rachel” — issued a statement saying, “Scheana will be present at today’s filming in person. Scheana intends to follow the law, but she wants to be part of the reunion. If Rachel attends, Scheana and ‘Vanderpump Rules’ will make sure that Scheana remains 100 yards away to comply with the restraining order.”
And so the “Vanderpump Rules” reunion taping — hosted by Bravo impresario Andy Cohen — set to film in Los Angeles Thursday, will have the entire cast in attendance, but with Leviss and Shay playing musical chairs. Since the restraining order is still in place, they will have to switch places as the day goes on, with one of them being on the set with Cohen and the rest of the cast, and the other watching remotely on the elsewhere in the building.
There’s a lot to discuss, after all. On March 3, TMZ broke the news that “Vanderpump Rules” mainstay Tom Sandoval and Leviss — introduced on the show in Season 5, as the girlfriend of DJ James Kennedy — had engaged in a months-long affair, which blew up his nine-year relationship with Ariana Madix. Bravo and production company Evolution Media immediately put the show back into production in order to capture the aftermath of the news (called the #Scandoval) in real-time. That episode will air at the end of the show’s 10th season, followed by what Bravo hopes is a three-part reunion.
A staged-looking paparazzi interview with Leviss Wednesday, picked up by TMZ, offered a preview of the reunion. In it, Leviss doubled down on her allegations against Shay, saying, “Scheana knows what happened that night.” She then said she has a “permanent scar on her eyebrow” as a result of what happened. When asked how she felt about the reunion, Leviss said, “I know I have to take accountability for my actions, so I’m completely prepared to do that.”
She said she apologized to Madix on the phone and over text, but that “she didn’t receive it well.” Mystifyingly, Leviss continued speaking to the paparazzi, surely infuriating Bravo, and said she doesn’t know where she and Sandoval stand at the moment: “I don’t know where our relationship is gonna be.”
On Monday, Bravo released the midseason teaser for “Vanderpump Rules,” unveiling the new footage for the first time. At one point in the trailer, Shay says, “I had so much rage in me—” which led viewers to wonder whether the end of that sentence was Shay confessing that she did hit Leviss, as alleged.
Shay is close friends with Madix, and according to the Rashomon-style reports from the gossip machine that exists around “Vanderpump Rules,” Madix learned of Sandoval’s infidelity under especially humiliating circumstances. As Variety has pieced together from listening to way too many podcasts, Madix looked at Sandoval’s phone, on which there was an intimate Facetime video of Leviss that he’d recorded. Leviss and Shay, who had previously been allies this season, had just taped Cohen’s late-night Bravo talk show “Watch What Happens Live” together in New York, when Madix told Shay what happened. And that is when Shay, according to Leviss, assaulted her.
On March 7, Leviss sent legal letters to “Vanderpump Rules” cast members — enraging Lala Kent in particular — warning them not to share the video. It’s unclear whether Sandoval received one, considering that it appears that he recorded the video himself, which according to the letter “was done illegally without Raquel’s knowledge or consent.”
This reunion, unfortunately, won’t air until late spring after Season 10 comes to an end.
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