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'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' season 3: Exclusive cast photo reveals two new housewives!

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Atlanta-HousewivesImage Credit: Quantrell Colbert/BravoLisa Wu out—Cynthia and Phaedra in! EW has exclusively learned that Bravo will officially add two new housewives to the cast for its third season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which is set to premiere on Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. ET. The network will make the announcement this afternoon. As you can see from the first-look cast photo above, NFL wife Lisa Wu Hartwell went the way that DeShawn Snow did after season one—she’s no longer a full-fleged cast member. However, sources tell us that Hartwell will indeed make occasional appearances on the show, much like Dina Manzo did after she departed The Real Housewives of New Jersey earlier this season. Atlanta’s season three cast is, from left to right: Phaedra Parks, NeNe Leakes, Shereé Whitfield, Cynthia Bailey, Kim Zolciak, and Kandi Burruss. Pretty glam cast, eh? As for new adds Cynthia and Phaedra, here’s what you need to know:

Cynthia Bailey: She’s a model who was born in Alabama, has appeared on the cover of Essence magazine, and has a 10-year-old daughter, Noelle.You might remember her from a brief guest role on The Cosby Show (she played a character named Sheniquah Watkins) or her spot as Roxanne opposite Sandra Bernhard in the musical comedy Without You I’m Nothing. This season on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, the independent woman will grapple with a marriage ultimatum from her boyfriend of three years, Peter Thomas, and deepen her bond with NeNe.

Phaedra Parks: This friend of Dwight and Kandi’s is an entertainment lawyer—specifically, the managing partner of an Atlanta-based boutique firm that works with entertainers and athletes. She’s a self-proclaimed “Southern Belle,” and does charity, which is a hallmark of the Housewives franchise. Her big storyline this season? She’s married to a younger man, Apollo, who went to prison for a “white collar crime,” and the ladies love to gossip about that. And surprise: Phaedra’s pregnant! Much of her time will be consumed with planning a baby shower. Also worth noting: Phaedra is from the same hometown as spitfire NeNe. Here’s hoping for a little from-the-archives drama between the pair!

The rest of the ladies have been busy, too: NeNe will deal with a rocky marriage and focuses on finding a career by landing a job as an entertainment reporter for the local news; Kim will do the music thing again, and even embark on a tour alongside Kandi; Kandi will reel from the death of her former fiancé, AJ, and try to rebuild a relationship with her cancer-stricken father; and Shereé will  pursue acting—she claims to want to win an Oscar one day! Which means she enlists an acting coach. Good luck with that!

Overall, could this possibly be a classier, less wig-ripping season of Atlanta? With the addition of the “Southern Belle” Phaedra and model Cynthia, seems like we’re headed toward less trashy territory. But do you think that’s even possible on this show, PopWatchers? Are you excited for the news cast members?

Also, here’s a just-posted video preview of this season:

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Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Originally posted August 19 2010 — 2:04 PM EDT

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