"Real Housewives of Atlanta" has not changed cast members out since season five. Why should they? The show hit record ratings this past sixth season with the existing seven.
But producers know story lines get stale fast unless new blood is thrown into the mix. So they are reportedly testing out two potential new cast members for season seven, currently in production: Rickey Smiley's newest radio morning show host Claudia Jordan and "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" actress and singer Demetria McKinney.
UPDATE: I have heard from a good source that McKinney has signed a contract and will become a full-time cast member. Jordan is set to be a recurring character.
Last night, I saw Claudia at Steve Harvey's Neighborhood Awards Saturday night but didn't get a chance to say more than a rudimentary hi on the red carpet. In a text today, when I asked about being on the show, Claudia gave me a vague "hmmm we'll all have to wait and see. :)"
Existing "Real Housewives" cast member Kandi Burruss, on the same carpet, acknowledged to me she had seen them both at a taping but had not really interacted to them to any grandiose degree. (Straight From the A's Michelle Brown last week reported that both were at Cynthia Bailey's husband's Bar One for a recent Essence magazine celebration for Bailey and Jordan was at Kandi's husband Todd Tucker's birthday party at Compound.)
"Real Housewives" last brought in new cast members season five: Kenya Moore and Porsha Williams. That year, they dropped Kim Zolciak. Since then, it's been an impressively stable crew, although individually, there has been plenty of tension, especially with NeNe Leakes and Kenya.
Neither McKinney nor Jordan are technically "housewives" but that has never stopped the Bravo show in terms of casting. Moore - who has never been married and is supposedly dating someone who doesn't even want to be identified - wasn't even an Atlantan. Bravo imported her to the city to create a ruckus - and she obliged.
There is an interesting subplot going on between Claudia and Porsha, courtesy of Smiley. The stand-up comic and radio host recently got rid of Ebony Steele from his morning show and gave a temporary gig to Porsha. He hired Claudia last month to replace Steele on the radio show. Then in a surprise last week, he decided to keep Porsha for the syndicated TV show "Dish Nation."
I hear Claudia had an understanding she'd be on TV as well when she was hired so this has to be awkward to say the least.
Claudia, 41, was a long-time Los Angeles resident who moved to New York for a year before coming down to Atlanta last month for Smiley's show. She was on "Celebrity Apprentice" twice and worked as a model on "Deal or No Deal" and "The Price is Right." In an extensive interview, she told me last month she is single. (Jordan is friends with Mimi Faust of "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta" and supposedly dated Benzino briefly.)
I hear she is good friends with Kenya Moore so she'll give Kenya someone to hang out with besides Miss Lawrence.
Demetria, 30, was an actress of Tyler Perry's TBS show "House of Payne," where her role grew in latter seasons once her character married one of the main characters. She is now dating Roger Bobb, who runs his own film and TV production company after working closely with Perry. She's had small roles in various Atlanta-based shows in recent years such as "Necessary Roughness," "Let's Stay Together," "Devious Maids' and "The Rickey Smiley Show" on TV One, which is produced by... Roger Bobb.
Season seven is set to return on air this fall.
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