Bravo fans may have been calling for Heather Thomson to come back to The Real Housewives of New York City, but her season 13 return wasn’t smooth sailing, Us Weekly can exclusively reveal.
“Heather’s popular history with the old cast and the excitement about new cast member Eboni Williams prompted production to maneuver her return,” a source tells Us ahead of the May premiere, noting that Ramona Singer invited the 50-year-old fashion designer to the Hamptons for the weekend during production. “Shortly after she arrived, Leah [McSweeney] and Heather butt heads. Their exchanges got messy and included some name-calling.”
The source adds that Heather was “stunned” as she “had minimal interaction” with Leah, 38, prior to season 13. While the two women crossed paths during season 12 at Dorinda Medley’s house, their exchange at the dinner party was “uneventful,” per the insider.
“Heather could see Leah was acting up for the cameras and using behavior she considered demeaning and exploitative and frankly, crossed a line,” the source continues. “Heather wanted no part of Leah so after she left that weekend Heather had no interest in continuing the season at all and stopped filming.”
Fans got their first glimpse of Heather and Leah’s feud in the season 13 trailer, which Bravo dropped earlier this month. In the teaser, the Married to the Mob designer calls Heather a “Karen.”
Heather previously starred on RHONY from seasons 5 to 7. In the seasons following her 2015 exit, the “In My Heart” podcast host made guest appearances as she remained close with former stars Carole Radziwill and Dorinda, 56. Season 13, however, will be the first season she has an official role since her departure.
“I really feel lucky that when I had to make the decision to leave the franchise, that everybody got it,” Heather said on RealiTea with Derek Z in November 2020. “[I left] an open door to make cameos and continue to show my true relationships on the show. I feel like I get the best of both worlds because I can dip my toe in the water, but I don’t really need to stay in the kitchen.”
In addition to Heather and newbie Bershan Shaw appearing in “friend” roles, RHONY season stars Leah, Ramona, Luann, Eboni and Sonja Morgan.
The Real Housewives of New York City returns to Bravo Tuesday, May 4, at 9 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Diana Cooper
Listen to Ramona Singer tell Us Weekly editors what it was like filming season 13 of ROHNY during COVID-19.