Bethenny Frankel’s ‘war on Bravo’ has caused quite a divide among Bravolebrities with some staying loyal to the network and others ready to join Bethenny’s attempt to bring down the giant.
via Page Six:
Last week, Frankel, along with powerhouse lawyers Mark Geragos and Bryan Friedman, sent a stinging legal letter to her former TV network alleging “grotesque and depraved mistreatment” including “plying cast members with alcohol while depriving them of food and sleep,” “denying mental health treatment to cast members” and “covering up acts of sexual violence.”
According to Frankel, she has over 80 reality TV personalities in her camp or who have reached out for more details of the lawsuit, which has not been filed yet, and the proposed union.
Her lurid accusations were followed this week by an explosive incident on “Below Deck: Down Under,” which saw cast member Luke Jones fired when he entered a sleeping Margot Sisson’s bunk without clothes or permission, prompting a production member to break the fourth wall and intervene.
Now, Page Six can reveal the astonishing behind-the-scenes vitriol flying between members of a string of shows in the wake of Frankel’s claims, accusing her of being ungrateful and hypocritical. “S–tting on the house that made her,” one source said.
Frankel famously sold part of her Skinnygirl company for $100 million during her eight-year Housewives run and triggered the so-called “Bethenny clause” in future contracts, giving Bravo a cut of cast members’ profits, because of how much money she made.
One “RH” source sniped that Frankel would “still be selling cookies in the supermarket if it wasn’t for appearing on the ‘Housewives’,” referring to one of Frankel’s first business endeavors, Bethenny Bakes.
Another source said the brash businesswoman is bragging at parties in the Hamptons that “she is going to bring down Bravo” and “not to cross her.”
This scare tactic is not going over well, according to multiple “Housewives.”
Frankel has tagged a series of stars, giving the impression they are her supporters. Among them are Paige DeSorbo, Tom Sandoval, Stassi Schroeder, Hannah Berner and cast members from the “Real Housewives,” “Love Is Blind,” “Below Deck,” and “Vanderpump Rules” and from beyond the Bravoverse, Jennifer “JWoww” Farley and stars of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”
Page Six reached out to those tagged and, with some exceptions, either didn’t receive a response or were told “no comment.” Frankel, too, declined to be interviewed through her publicist.
A source close to DeSorbo maintained that she has not spoken to Frankel and has untagged herself from the posts.
One fan of Frankel’s who did speak is JWoww of “Jersey Shore” fame, who told Page Six, “I love Bethenny and think she’s an absolute force. We haven’t spoken about this specific topic, but I understand her passion.
JWoww is not a Bravolebrity; “Jersey Shore” and its subsequent spinoffs air on MTV, which is owned by Paramount.“All of us have different experiences with filming, production, contracts and compensation but I do very much agree everyone should be able to feel like they are compensated for their work regardless of the field you work in,” she said.
But it seems like many past and present Bravolebrities aren’t on board and are confused by Frankel’s hostility.
Dorinda Medley, of “RHONY,” told Page Six, “My experience has been positive. I’ve been part of the network for nearly 10 years, and I’ve loved getting to share my journey with the viewers.”
The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” Kandi Burruss also revealed to “Entertainment Tonight” that she’s not joining Frankel.
Burruss said, “It wouldn’t make any sense for me to be a part of that. To me, if I’m working with somebody, and I feel like they’re not doing something that they should be doing, I address it right then.”
And former “Real Housewives of Miami” star Lea Black, who appeared in Seasons 1-3 of the franchise, is shocked by Frankel’s rabble-rousing. “Bethenny likes to be the hero,” Black exclusively told Page Six. “But she should be grateful. She made a ton of money and became very influential because of her association with Bravo.
“I can’t even wrap my head around anyone being so ungrateful for the opportunity that they want to sue the person that gave it to them.”
And while messages and DMs are furiously flying from coast to coast trying to uncover the truth behind some of Frankel’s more salacious allegations, it’s the reality TV podcasters and influencers who are having a field day with the claims.
One popular Bravo fan account, @byewighellodrama, speculates that Tom Sandoval is in cahoots with Frankel.“Tom Sandoval being a part of Bethenny’s ‘war’ on Bravo makes sense,” the Instagrammer said. “Scandoval completely took over — it was everywhere, CNN, TIME, Rolling Stone. Tom’s reputation suffered; for a month or two he felt like one of the most hated men in America.
“The ratings skyrocketed, and Bravo had marquee ads playing during the reunion and were essentially making bank,” the source continued. “Sandoval most likely wants a cut since it was his reputation and life at the center of it all. What does Sandoval have to lose at this point?”
As for the allegations of Bravo showing revenge porn, or allowing it to be shared among castmates, @byewighellodrama points to a few possible on-air incidents, like Raquel Leviss from “Vanderpump Rules,” who was part of the Scandoval love triangle with Ariana Madix.Leviss sent a cease-and-desist letter to the cast of asking them to stop sharing and delete an intimate FaceTime video of her recorded by Sandoval; the letter was referenced on air.
Another candidate? “There was an incident with Gretchen Rossi from the ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ during season 5 where explicit photos of her were shared without her permission by her castmates,” the Instagrammer recalled.
The racy photos showed Rossi topless, with a vibrator, and perched on a toilet seat with her pants slid down; they too were part of the storyline on air.Bravo’s backers see this week’s “Below Deck: Down Under” firings — as well as naked crewmate Jones, a second cast member, Laura Bileskalne, was fired for inappropriate sexual advances — as evidence of the network practicing what it preaches.
“NBCUniversal is committed to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace for cast and crew on our reality shows,” an NBCUniversal spokesperson said.
“At the outset, we require our third-party production partners to have appropriate workplace policies and training in place. If complaints are brought to our attention, we work with our production partners to ensure that timely, appropriate action is or has been taken, including investigations, medical and/or psychological support, and other remedial action that may be warranted such as personnel changes.”
Of course, reality TV’s ratings and popularity are buoyed by messy meltdowns, bitchy catfights, and over-the-top behavior—especially for the “Housewives.”
“Some of the talents are saying they felt they were being exploited,” “RHOM’s” Black acknowledged. “Well, if the producers put out champagne and you drink four bottles, it’s not their fault. If you get into a catfight with another cast member and act unbecomingly, that’s not their fault.
“In fact, they know that the more outrageous they are, the more attention they get,” Black continued, “and the more attention they get, the bigger following they get.
“And then they think they’ve made it big time and now they can demand bigger salaries. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But nobody put a gun to their head and made them misbehave.”
A casting director who has worked on several Bravo shows agrees that reality TV performers need to take accountability for their actions.
“Some people want to blame editing for their bad behavior, but they aren’t making up what you’re doing, even with creative editing,” the source said.
However, the insider does believe that the industry needs more guardrails across the board, not just at NBCUniversal.
“Reality TV performers are at the bottom of the totem pole,” the source described.
“Bethenny may be s—ting on the house that made her a star but at least she’s putting a spotlight on some of these issues. No one with a real soapbox was standing up for reality TV, and she is.”
Whether Bethenny prevails or not, this certainly calls a lot of what we accept as ‘reality tv standards’ into question.