Three cast members from "Basketball Wives" have reportedly been axed ahead of Vh1 and Shed Media's attempts to revamp the controversial reality TV show for Season 5.
- Facebook: Basketball Wives fan page
Jennifer Williams, Royce Reed and Kesha Nichols have all reportedly been fired and will be replaced in what sources described as a bid to eradicate "dead weight" from the show, according to TMZ.
Viewers immediately flocked to social networking site Twitter to weigh in on the explosive reports.
"So Royce, Keisha [sic], and Jennifer were fired from Basketball Wives and they kept all the drama queens," Melody Kewl tweeted.
"Basketball Wives fired Royce, Jennifer and Kesha - all the people who weren't the problem *side eyes Shaunie, Evelyn and Tami*," Ziyanda N tweeted.
"@MAKAEL86 how does shaunie want the show to grow & become positive if she got rid of all the peacemakers?" MaiyaB tweeted.
As some critics suspected, Williams, the former wife of retired NBA star Eric Williams, was reportedly let go due to her pending lawsuit against her co-star Evelyn Lozada's assistant, Nia Crooks.
Williams, 39, filed a criminal complaint against Crooks, a Harlem resident, after she was physically assaulted on the show. After multiple failed attempts by the producers to have her drop the lawsuit, they deemed her to be too great of a liability to remain a cast member, it was reported.
The producers are reportedly considering suing Williams for allegedly tarnishing the "Basketball Wives" brand, arguing that she has no right to sue anyone because the risk of injury was outlined in her contract.
Reed, who has a child with Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard, was reportedly fired due to a 2009 gag order which prohibits her from discussing the NBA star in any way or form. Some critics also suspect that her previous feud with her co-star Shaunie O'Neal, who also happens to be one of the show's producers, is to blame.
Nichols, who was aggressively bullied by her co-star Tami Roman on the show, was reportedly not bringing enough drama to the group and was consequently fired for being what producers considered to be too boring.
The reality show recently ignited national debates about bullying, with some viewers arguing that it promotes such behavior following a heated confrontation that took place between Roman and Nichols during episode 13.
Shed Media, which produces the show along with the Vh1 network, addressed criticisms that the show promotes bullying. They insisted that producers are currently implementing the necessary changes to ensure that the show sends a more positive message to its viewers.
"Shed Media US is fully committed to telling the compelling stories of the Basketball Wives in a balanced way. Our producing partner Shaunie O'Neal feels strongly about this, and we fully agree with this stance. We support her as she encourages the cast members to work out issues in a non-violent fashion," a Shed Media statement read. "We look forward to working with her and the rest of the cast on conveying more balance in the next season."
Vh1 echoed Shed Media's statement and said that the network condemns violence, despite various critics' assertions that it actually promotes it.
"Our viewers' opinions always matter a great deal to us at Vh1. Lately, there has been a lot of conversation about Basketball Wives, a series featuring strong, intelligent women with very passionate viewpoints, which can sometimes escalate," the statement read.
"We at Vh1 agree with and support Shaunie and the show producers' 'no excessive physical confrontations' policy on the series moving forward. ... Shaunie has been a strong advocate for a more balanced approach to the show and we, along with our producing partners at Shed Media, are all in agreement about moving forward with that goal," the statement added.