Monday, Sur is back in business. Well, the WeHo spot never really closed but this evening marks the season 5 premiere of Bravo’s addictive and fabulous Vanderpump Rules. Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump and the staff of her restaurants Sur and Pump are back for more totally inappropriate work chats and drunk brunches. EW talked to Vanderpump about this season and the big scandal that rocks the premiere.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell us about the fifth season of Vanderpump Rules?
Well the through-line is obviously the wedding [of cast members Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz], which is always a gift in reality television because there are so many components and so many people involved. But then you’ve got the bachelorette parties and the bachelor parties and the choice of bridesmaids, the dress, and the this and the that. But also the relationship between the two of them was a little tumultuous, shall we say, which was a shame. They’re a lovely couple. It became a little too emotional at some points. It all takes different twists and turns, for sure.
You officiated their wedding. Do you ever think you’re getting too personal with the crew of your restaurant Sur?
Oh yeah, those lines are blurred. It would be one thing to say, “Well, they just work for me at the restaurant.” But for the viewer, I also have to be transparent and say making a show for five years changes a lot of things and it brought me closer to them.
One of the big scandals in the season premiere is Jax alleging that he walked in on girlfriend Brittany and his frenemy Kristen in a compromising position. Where do you stand?
I can’t see the upside for him saying it happened if it didn’t. However, put Brittany and put Jax in front of me — who am I going to believe? Brittany. I don’t know. You’ll see the way it plays out. Jax has no filter. He’s also the same on camera and off camera. If he sees something, he’ll say, “Why shouldn’t I say it?” I don’t think humiliation is in Jax Taylor’s vocabulary, quite honestly. I think that’s what makes for good reality television. I certainly know how to pick them!
Speaking of Brittany: Last year, Jax asked you to hire her at Sur and you declined. But she’s on staff this year. What changed?
Well, she became part of the show and obviously it’s great for the restaurant to have people that legitimately need to work, and she really wanted to work. We were a couple of waitresses down, and I thought, “Why not give her a shot?” She’s actually fantastic. She really is there four or five nights a week. She’s lovely — I have never met a girl like her. I don’t know if it’s where she’s from, but [fakes a Kentucky accent] “everything is absolutely so nice!”
One of your other employees, Tom Sandoval, shows up this season with longer hair and pink streaks. Everyone knows that pink is your signature color.
I was a bit worried he was trying to take my look because I had pink streaks in my hair and I thought, “Is he trying to morph into me?” I know he wants to be the boss, but he took that a little too far. [Laughs] He’s kind of a pretty boy. I think you see him in the show’s trailer in drag and he really does look like a beautiful woman. If [his girlfriend] Ariana is okay with it, then I suppose I should be too!
Do people now come to Sur and your other restaurant, Pump, just to see the cast working? Is it like having breakfast with the characters at Disney World?
And when they get served by Mickey Mouse, they get really excited! But it has its downfalls. I remember before Stassi quit, the customers would say, “You were such a bitch! Can you take a picture with me?” And [the cast] found it a little overwhelming, to be honest. It can be a bit difficult, for sure.
Jennifer Lawrence has confessed that she’s a fan of the show. Do other celebrities who want to meet the cast come to the restaurants?
We do a get a lot of celebrities, especially at Pump. I remember I was having dinner with Lady Gaga [Vanderpump appeared in the star’s video for “G.U.Y.”] once and she was like, “Well, where are they?” And I said, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll get them down here in a second.”