By Tanner Stransky
Updated September 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT
Heidi Gutman/Bravo

The reports last week that there will be major casting changes on the next season of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City are indeed true: In a statement, Bravo confirmed to EW that Jill Zarin, Kelly Bensimon, Alex McCord, and Cindy Barshop are not currently signed to be regulars on the upcoming season 5 of the hit reality series. The network, however, claims to “continue to have on-going discussions” with the four ousted housewives.

“Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, and LuAnn DeLesseps will be returning for season 5 of The Real Housewives of New York City,” a Bravo spokesperson told EW via email. “We’ve had a fabulous run with all the ladies and appreciate them sharing their lives with our viewers. It is a friendly departure among the other ladies and we continue to have on-going discussions with them.”

Zarin and McCord were original housewives in the first season of the series; Bensimon was added at the beginning of season 2; and Barshop officially became a housewife at the beginning of season 4, the last to air. Of those returning for season 5, Singer and DeLesseps are the only two members of the original cast remaining; Morgan joined partway through season 3.

This is not the first big defection for the series: Original cast member Bethenny Frankel completed three seasons of the show before leaving for her own show, Bethenny Ever After, which was a runaway ratings smash and was renewed for a third season back in March.

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

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