‘S—ting on house that made her’
Since Bethenny Frankel initiated her campaign against NBCUniversal and Bravo, accusing them of manipulating reality stars, providing them with alcohol, and engaging in revenge porn, there has been much speculation about who supports her and who is on #TeamBravo. It appears that the majority of people are standing behind Bravo, particularly current cast members. After all, why would they bite the hand that feeds them? Last week, Frankel, along with renowned lawyers Mark Geragos and Bryan Friedman, sent a scathing legal letter to her former TV network, alleging “grotesque and depraved mistreatment,” including the provision of alcohol to cast members while depriving them of food and sleep, denying them mental health treatment, and covering up acts of sexual violence. These explosive claims have sent shockwaves through the world of Bravo and reality television. Frankel, who made a fortune as a star, now claims that the network is exploiting its cast members.
In addition to her legal battle, Frankel is also attempting to organize a union for unscripted TV performers, similar to the actors’ guild SAG-AFTRA, which is currently on strike and has been in contact with her. According to Frankel, she has the support of over 80 reality TV personalities who are either part of her camp or have expressed interest in learning more about the lawsuit and the proposed union. This week, an incident on “Below Deck: Down Under” added fuel to the fire, as cast member Luke Jones was fired for entering Margot Sisson’s bunk without clothes or permission, leading to a production member breaking the fourth wall to intervene.
Following Frankel’s claims, there has been a surge of behind-the-scenes animosity among members of various shows, accusing her of being ungrateful and hypocritical. One source commented that she is “shitting on the house that made her.” Frankel famously sold part of her Skinnygirl company for $100 million during her time on “Real Housewives of New York” and secured the “Bethenny clause” in future contracts, which entitles Bravo to a share of cast members’ profits due to her immense success. Another source took a dig at her, suggesting that she would still be selling cookies in a supermarket if it weren’t for her appearance on the show and her early business venture, Bethenny Bakes.
Frankel has been vocal about her feud with Bravo, sharing posts on Instagram about it and about her efforts to unionize. She has tagged several stars, leading to speculation that they support her cause. However, when contacted by TheFantasyTimes, most of them either did not respond or declined to comment. Frankel herself declined an interview through her publicist. As a result, there is a guessing game among Bravo celebrities, eager to find out who supports Frankel and who the anonymous allegations she makes are directed towards.
While some stars, like JWoww from “Jersey Shore,” express their admiration for Frankel’s passion, many past and present Bravo celebrities are not on her side and find her hostility confusing. Dorinda Medley from “RHONY” shared her positive experience with the network, highlighting her nearly 10-year journey with them. Kandi Burruss from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” also made it clear that she is not joining Frankel’s cause, stating that she addresses any issues she has with someone directly. Lea Black, a former cast member of “Real Housewives of Miami,” called out Frankel as ungrateful, emphasizing that she should appreciate what Bravo has done for her, including the immense fortune she made from the sale of her Skinnygirl drinks brand.
While the truth behind Frankel’s allegations remains a mystery, reality TV podcasters and influencers are having a field day discussing them. Speculation is rife, with one popular Bravo fan account suggesting that Tom Sandoval is involved in Frankel’s “war” on Bravo. It is speculated that Sandoval, who received widespread media coverage due to the controversy, wants a share of the profits since his reputation was at the center of it all. However, these claims are purely speculative.
In conclusion, Frankel’s battle with Bravo has caused a stir within the reality TV community. While some stand by her side, many are skeptical and believe she should be grateful for the opportunities Bravo has provided her. The situation remains tense, and the true extent of support for Frankel and the validity of her claims are yet to be determined.
Ever since Bethenny Frankel launched her war on NBCUniversal and Bravo, with bombshell claims that reality stars are manipulated, plied with booze and the victims of revenge porn, tongues have been wagging about who is supporting the former “Real Housewives of New York” star and who is #TeamBravo.
Overwhelmingly, it seems like people are behind Bravo—especially current cast members. After all, why bite the hand that feeds you?
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.”
The Skinnygirl mogul is also trying to organize a union for unscripted TV performers, akin to actors’ guild SAG-AFTRA, which is currently striking and which this week was in touch with her.
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, TheFantasyTimes 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 being 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.”
TheFantasyTimes 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 TheFantasyTimes, “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 TheFantasyTimes, “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 TheFantasyTimes. “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 Tom 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.”
Arguably, another housewife, NeNe Leakes, has already gone head-to-head with NBCUniversal, filing a lawsuit against Andy Cohen and Bravo in April 2022 accusing them of creating a hostile work environment that fostered racially offensive behavior.
However, that August, Leakes, of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” dropped the lawsuit; Cohen and NBC have not commented on it.
The contentious issue inside Bravo-world seems to be having Frankel as the ringleader of the movement. Not only has Frankel profited handsomely from Bravo and still is with her “ReWives” rewatch podcast, but she also rubs a lot of people the wrong way with her aggressive, in-your-face style, our source said.
Kate Chastain, formerly of “Below Deck,” took a shot at Frankel in a snarky Tweet on Monday that said, “I can’t wait to watch the Netflix documentary about the exploitation of Skinnygirl.”
And Black, who made a cameo on season 5 of RHOM, urges caution for her reality TV sisters: “For someone like Bethenny, you’ve made it, you’re at the top and you have money. You can burn some bridges.
“For some of these girls, this is their one and only real chance at fame and fortune, and if they’re burning a bridge, they might not have anything to fall back on.”