"The Real Housewives of New York City" returns Monday night for the first time since we broke the story that Jill Zarin, Kelly Bensimon and Alex McCord had been fired. And although the three former cast members have not been spending the past several months filming Season 5, that doesn't mean these ladies have disappeared from the public eye altogether.
"I have had the highest highs and lowest lows, but right now I'm very peaceful," Jill tells me. "I have a little anxiety with the show coming back, because I have never had this outpouring of love from fans all over the world saying they will miss me. I didn't expect they would miss me. That's the circle of life; I thought they would move straight on to the new girls."
Jill plans to auction off all her clothes from Seasons 1 to 4 and donate the money to charitable causes. She says she has no hard feelings toward Bravo, just gratitude.
“I will always be grateful to the show. The show helped me and gave me something to do for rest of my life," she says. "The closest you will get to seeing me back on TV is June 15 on HSN selling my Skweez Couture Shapewear collection," reveals Jill. "I'm thinking about writing a business book about building a brand, and have my jewelry line launching at Lord & Taylor in July. Plus, hopefully a few TV announcements soon."
Bensimon released her fourth book, "I Can Make You Hot," her publicist told me, failing to mention how poorly it sold. Kelly also went on a national book tour, and her publicist notes that she "recently became a celebrity ambassador for Food Bank and has cameos in two upcoming films: Hilary Brougher's 'Innocence' and an untitled Woody Allen film."
During the same 24 hours when Alex and husband Simon van Kempen learned they wouldn't return to the series, they launched their linen company, Aluxe Home and Hotel Collection, which is now in several hotels and will be sold in stores this fall. But don't expect this couple from Brooklyn to remain behind the scenes for long.
"It gave us time to focus on selling the line, which we wouldn't have had if I was filming every day," Alex, who co-hosts a new show called "Coffee Shop Confessions" with "Melrose Place" star Andrew Shue, told me. "Post-'Housewives,' we have chosen projects based on what interests us most, mainly kids and home, relationships and writing," says Alex. "Simon is thrilled to be a work-at-home dad, running his social media company and spearheading the new smart phone app Qwiqq from our Brooklyn townhouse. And he loves being the dad that he never had to his 6- and 8-year-old boys."
Will they watch the new season? Alex says yes, because it's part of the job: She's just been hired by RumorFix.com to report weekly on each episode. Jill's unsure if she will watch, saying she misses the days of Season 1 when they were all friends and got along. Further drama and fighting isn't something she needs to see. She lived it.
Correction: In a previous version, the headline of this post misidentified Kelly Bensimon as Kelly Benson.
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