#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Bethenny’s “Her or Me” Ultimatum

After hearing celebrity gossip columnist Rob Shuter speak to Kate Casey on her eponymous podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey (which I will be recapping shortly for AllAboutTRH.com), I caught up with the well-informed New Yorker to ask the question bugging me and so many fans of Real Housewives of New York.

“Was Carole Radziwill fired?”

After covering Bravo shows extensively for The Huffington Post contributor platform and interviewing many of the network’s talent over the years, one thing I’ve learned is that stars don’t simply quit while the season is airing. That is, unless something goes terribly wrong for them. In addition, Bravo does prefer to urge their talent to hand in a letter of resignation. This helps to avoid the semantics of “she was fired” and we’ve seen it in the past with Housewives of other franchises.

The network may or may not have gone this same “letter of resignation” route with Carole Radziwill, but it all boils down to the following:

“Carole was fired,” Shuter confirms. “Bethenny is great TV, but bad on a personal level.”

In his earlier interview with Casey, Shuter discussed Bethenny’s inability to maintain relationships, and we’ve seen on RHONY how her friendships have either experienced extreme turbulence and weathered those fraught conditions, or failed to thrive due to interpersonal chaos.

While Bethenny certainly isn’t “easy,” she is hilarious, clever and her one-liners have become truly exquisite RHONY gems. She knows how to drive a storyline despite exhausting viewers when an emotional roller coaster becomes terribly convoluted.

According to Shuter, Bethenny is most valuable to RHONY of all the cast mates. In the opinion of shrewd observers, after Carole went rogue in some of her interviews and refused to hold back in her Bravo blog entries (several of which Bravo reportedly asked her to go back and edit in order to tone down the verbiage), Carole put herself in a precarious position. In light of this, it makes sense when Rob confirms to me that Bethenny was successfully able to give producers the “It’s her or me” ultimatum.

Bethenny is seen by production, the network and fans alike as the powerhouse necessary for this franchise. However, there is also a contingent that views her as the difficult “mean girl” who has successfully chased other RHONY cast members away. It is an argument that can be made if you comb through the archives and consider cast members of past seasons who shared screen time with the Skinny Girl.

What do YOU think of Carole allegedly being fired from Real Housewives of New York?

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Will Jill Zarin Replace Carole Radziwill?

Pop culture commentator and gossip columnist Rob Shuter has a lot of RHONY inside scoop.

It was he who tweeted that Carole was completely wiped from Bethenny at the reunion and would therefore be retiring the “Housewife” moniker. That declaration came before the official People magazine announcement courtesy of reporter Dave Quinn.

Today, Rob tweeted out that Jill Zarin will likely be replacing Carole and is currently in the midst of talks with Bravo. Could Rob be right? Or is Shed Media looking for a fresh face for the franchise – someone we’ve never heard of – instead?

I liked Jill during her past seasons and even interviewed her for Huffington Post on the heels of the televised Teri Jon fashion event advocating for anti-bullying awareness. On a personal level, I found her to be congenial and open as an interviewee. However, I’ll admit that I will miss the political savvy of Carole Radziwill and I can’t help feeling a little bothered that we are losing a liberal who I admired (remember how she attended the Women’s March with Dorinda?) for someone who was a noted board member of the Eric Trump organization. We know where Jill’s allegiances were during the last election, and although politics barely factors into the RHONY franchise, I’m craving more of a Heather Thompson type of gal for the upcoming season. I’d love to see someone brand new.

My reasoning is slightly selfish, I admit. I related to Carole’s political leanings and her campaigning efforts. Losing an active and outspoken liberal (Carole is “vocal” in this arena via social media) feels like the opening of a void, albeit one quite tangential to the show’s storylines.

Regardless, Jill Zarin has history with her RHONY cronies, as well as an on and very off again friendship with Bethenny Frankel. So viewers will be interested to see how the two repair any residual rifts, overcome a complicated past and whether the peace between the two of them will last.

What are your thoughts on the potential return of Jill Zarin to Real Housewives of New York? Do you think it’s unlikely or a very real possibility?

(Photo source: Us Weekly)

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Dating, Psychology, Reality TV

#RHONY: Is There a Shortage of Men in Manhattan?!

Two decades ago, when I was a single woman living and dating in NYC, it seemed like every guy of “average” level looks, intelligence and personality had 9 incredible women in hot pursuit of him.

I was in a certain, very niche- specific dating scene because of my religious background, and once I expanded my social circles, this 9 to 1 ratio of eligible single ladies to eligible single men no longer seemed to be as much of a thing. However, I did notice that “normal” men seemed harder to find than outstanding women, and while the male population of NYC is currently at 47.38 percent versus the 52.62 percent of females (a disparity that doesn’t seem outrageous and was quite similar twenty years ago), a good man is hard to find.

It takes only a five minute conversation with a NYC single gal today to gauge this problem, while a man always seems to have more dating prospects on the horizon.

I suspect this was particularly prescient to me due to my former religious circles wherein matchmakers pounce upon a widowed man because of the devotion he had to his wife and noted past ability to commit. I realize this sounds awfully vulture-like to the reader, but it’s so hard for a religious Jewish woman to find a man who is self-assured, charismatic and committed. Matchmakers are fully aware of this. There just happen to be more marriage-minded women than men in major metropolitan cities.

This brings us to the ladies of Real Housewives of New York. They’re not in the Jewish dating scene, but are in a niche specific one of their own. It is one where men of a certain middle aged and above cohort are acclimating still to the idea of a highly successful, independent and self-sufficient, affluent woman (though some of these ladies are more modern and self sufficient than others are). The majority of these men have been indoctrinated with the notion of man as provider and, despite protest, many do feel threatened by a women of means who could be the provider herself. RHONY fans often ask “why are these woman always dating the same loser, or arguing over the same man who doesn’t seem so spectacular?”

I mention my “9 to 1” theory to Rori Sassoon, Founder of NYC matchmaking service Platinum Poire. Rori hosted the speed dating event that we recently saw on RHONY. It was where all the ladies seemed interested in the red scarf adorned Brian Krauss. “Aren’t there more men for these women to date?” viewers asked.

Rori agrees that the rationale I developed from my dating days is not off at all and adds: “It is unfortunately still the same. It’s also much harder for women because the man is the one who is doing the pursuing. I also find that if a man wants to be in a relationship, he can make that happen a lot more quickly than a woman can. Because of that, a lot of women do not choose their partner, they are chosen, which can lead to a relationship with an expiration date.”

If all of this sounds terribly antiquated in today’s 2018 culture of #MeToo, #TimesUp, Feminism and shifts from heteronormative stereotypes, we have not progressed as much as you naively thought. A certain level of traditional thinking still abounds amidst the modernity of NYC, especially when it comes to the Gen X and Boomer contingents.

For every Tom, Harry and Brian, there is a group of women hovering in the wings, trying to catch a glimpse of an extinct breed: a seemingly Ok male specimen. Due to the depressing rarity of this find, the bar is not set especially high, and disappointment in NYC dating can seem as inevitable as a streetlight on every corner.

Thinking outside of the box and beyond the city limits is a strategy some of these Housewives have employed because the pickings are slim. It is why so much is not taboo and hiring a matchmaker is not something to be shunned. It’s also why you shouldn’t be ashamed if it suddenly dawns on you that your uncle in Schenectady would be the perfect match for Ramona Singer. Hey, you never know. Vet it through Rori. Crazier things have happened in this world than Ramona becoming your aunt.

Hear Rori Sassoon discuss the RHONY speed dating event and trying to match up the ladies of the cast on the Pink Shade with Erin Martin podcast.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: “The Guy with The Red Scarf” Sets the Record Straight

The Curious George series has the “man with the yellow hat” and recently, Real Housewives of New York introduced “the guy with the red scarf.” There was the French pirate before him, followed by zany Rey at the Madam Paulette event, and of course, that man that “it’s all about”, Tom D’Agastino.

This new neck-cessorized suitor of the season will surely also be the subject of future flashback scenes. He has already been the impetus for a car ride recap by Bethenny and a contentious dinner conversation between the ladies. Viewers observed how Ramona Singer was the first to single him out at a speed dating event, after which he focused his attention on Bethenny and declared he had been hoping to see her there.

However, it was Carole Radziwill who ultimately scored a post-event blind date with him, set up by the speed dating event’s matchmaker Rori Sassoon. Afterwards, while in Colombia with her cast mates, Bethenny claimed -and complained – that he was hitting her up repetitively by text.

In case you were in the dark about his identity, the red scarf belongs to Brian Krauss, a 53 year old resident of Saddle River, NJ, who tells me he had never watched RHONY until this year and was unfamiliar with all the players except Bethenny. The two had met away from the show and glitz of NYC, in Miami.

Brian Krauss’s Instagram

Brian marvels about how “the guy with the red scarf” became a character (he didn’t don the accessory to stand out, rather for practical reasons: It was freezing that winter night.) and his adamancy about not expecting to be a storyline strikes me as sincere. After all, this lawyer and entrepreneur (he founded and sold the companies IPATH Footwear and Vintage1 and is now focused on his law firms) had never watched the show until he was informed he’d be on the speed dating episode. Now, he has to tune in weekly to keep up with the narrative.

As we’re chatting by phone, Brian sends me an email comprised of what he’s written in order to set the record straight on his relationship to Bethenny:

A Tale of Two Texts

Bethenny has an odd habit of making up stories where she looks good at the expense of others. This tale is no exception. I bet those texts she was reading gave you the impression they were all from me after we re-connected at speed dating. False. They weren’t. They were cobbled together from months earlier when she first swiped right on The League, a dating app, to match with me.

She conveniently left out all her replies. There were so many. Trust me, it is unnerving to film RHONY. I agreed because I believe in my friend Rori’s matchmaking business Platinum Poire. And yes, I was happy to see Bethenny, a woman I already knew, felt comfortable with and considered a friend.

Her claim that she texted me that same night to fix me up with Carole: also false. In real life Rori arranged a dinner the next evening. Also, in real life Bethenny texted me immediately after she left speed dating to say what a great time she had had. Then she woke up at 6:01 the next morning (Feb. 1st) to set up a date for herself.

When I saw the show, I laughed at the way Bethenny turned what I thought was a flirty, fun speed dating night into a full on pursuit.

Here are screenshots of the actual texts between us. It’s kind of brilliant how this became “he won’t stop texting me.” You decide. I’m blue. Bethenny is grey. By the way, I’m out of the reality show business. It’s insane!

Then four days later:

————————————————

Brian explains that when he first met Bethenny in Miami, he felt a connection to her because they both had been through difficult divorces. He is not a stranger to reality television as he had once been a part of a project with the intent of promoting a business. That reality show never aired, in large part due to his divorce and refusal to be inauthentic about his marital struggles, as well as tensions with his brothers-in-law business partners.

A client of Rori’s matchmaking business referred Brian for the speed dating event. After speaking with her at length by phone, Brian says he really liked the matchmaker and her business concept and wanted to help her promote the company. He relates that he almost backed out of filming after having second thoughts. Now, Brian is a part of the RHONY saga. He is a character that true fans of the franchise won’t forget. He is gobsmacked by the amount of friend requests he’s received on Facebook since appearing on the show and by the number of followers he has recently acquired on Instagram. He laments that it’s been hard to keep up.

“At the reunion, I think Carole will probably set the record straight about how things actually went down,” he speculates. This aligns with the rumors about the upcoming reunion. Bethenny fans will not be happy at the insinuations that she has been less than truthful. They will have to come to their own conclusions when Carole presents the “receipts.”

Brian says he remains in touch with Carole and I try to gauge if there’s romantic interest there, but I’m mainly unsuccessful. He says that he finds her fascinating, brilliant and accomplished and is still getting to know her.

As for Bethenny? “Oh no, I’m not in touch and I won’t text her. I would NOT want that to get misconstrued!”

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#RHONY, Reality TV

#RHONY Ruminations & Reunion Rumblings

In my mind, Dorinda Medley is greatly ticked off, but feels partially validated at the same time. As her avid social media followers can attest, the Countess had been crapping on her, having the gall to mention HER drinking and criticize her drunken behavior. After all, Luann De Lesseps is the one who entered rehab for alcohol addiction after her Palm Beach arrest months ago. How dare she throw stones from her glass house at Dorinda?

…And Dorinda wanted the world to know that Lu was still holed up in that very glass house, that she was no sobriety expert who could say “learn from my mistakes.” As it happened, Dorinda was proved right when Lu reentered rehab after a relapse. Bethenny Frankel reached out to Dave Quinn, Bravo’s People magazine pet, and issued several statements on Lu’s behalf, one being that the Countess would be skipping the reunion as she focused on rehabilitation.

This likely gave Dorinda pause. Well, after hours of putting together my receipts and going over all the pivotal points, I won’t get to lambast Lu. On the other hand, I can highlight her hypocrisy and prove the point I had all along. Of course, I’ll convey that it is my hope she gets better, and that I really sympathize with her struggle. Blah blah blah.

Last night’s episode of Real Housewives of New York hammered home some of the other wars waging between this group of women who hang out annually before a camera crew. The only “real” friendships on this show exist between Tinsley, Carole and Dorinda, and between Dorinda and Ramona. The other dynamics are those of coworkers. Bethenny’s stance communicates that she is there to do her best work, bring emotions for heightened drama and then have little to do with the ladies for the rest of the year.

Viewer response to Bethenny after last night’s episode ran the gamut. The “ride or die” Bethenny fans completely understood how personal stresses and her treatment by cast mate Carole Radziwill have combined to make her positively cuckoo, and they feel she has her right to complain. Others are exhausted by Bethenny’s overreactions, cries and snapping that creates chaos.

Personally, I admire how hardworking Bethenny is. I love her compassion for the people of Puerto Rico and her charity work where she shows nothing is below her. That’s why I was taken aback when she acted like the hotel villa was so beneath her in last night’s episode. On the other hand, who am I to criticize Bethenny when I’m sure the circumstances of her divorce, subsequent restraining order and custody arrangement, as well as the strained relationship with a former bestie are draining her emotionally? It’s definitely not easy to be Bethenny and have it hammered home that your former best friend has replaced you with a more happy-go-lucky, fairytale princess Barbie version.

When former RHONY cast mate Kelly Bensimon had her epic “mental breakdown” seasons ago, she didn’t have the backing of fans expressing compassion that Bethenny has now. She didn’t have the extensive show experience or noted business acumen and success. Her charity work was also far lesser publicized. Her personal problems were less documented and I don’t recall many “passes” being given to her. Some fans have called attention to that comparison and the fact that if Bethenny is always having a new problem with new people, perhaps Bethenny is the problem.

Viewers have expressed that she seems incapable of keeping friends and maintaining relationships. Others have added these words to that sentiment: “on TV.” It appears that Bethenny has close friends of many years who don’t seek the limelight. However, it’s getting tiresome for many to see Bethenny constantly blow up at the smallest thing with her cast mates, and to see her perpetually regard former friends as foes.

Yesterday I wrote about likely scenarios at the upcoming reunion, and now reports are surfacing that we’ll see Bethenny eviscerate Carole there. The queen of the comeback and Wonder Woman of the one-liners will likely come out as the triumphant one at this celebrated annual event. The lack of Luann will be usurped by Bethenny’s powerful presence, and the reviews will be mixed. Bethenny loyalists will cheer and feel a vicarious sense of validation for her, while detractors and the less enthused Bethenny watchers will wish for more self-awareness from Her Royal Smugness.

Until a future season when Bethenny is cast next to her perfect adversary, one who matches wits with her tit for tat, is equally savvy and can effectively captivate Andy Cohen, her monster reign will continue. The rumors circulating about Carole quitting after this season are not impossible to believe while Bethenny is the power player in this group dynamic. Because this is a fact fatiguing fans, Shed Media might do best by strategically shaking up the cast for next season.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV, Uncategorized

#RHONY: Bethenny’s Got Your Back!

Several weeks ago, I was privately given the heads-up that Luann De Lesseps of Real Housewives of New York was drinking again. Anyone remotely connected to Bravo franchises and their cast and crew will hear something second, third or fourth-hand. In many cases, we (bloggers, writers, podcast hosts) dismiss the gossip as speculative. If it comes from a malicious place, as I suspected with this particular rumor, many of us refrain from exploring a rather obscure “tip” further and back away, fearing a sordid backstory.

I watched as this tidbit made the rounds of Facebook postings and Instagram comments, all the while cheering Luann on for her celebrated sobriety on TV. I hoped that these nasty rumors contradicting the RHONY footage were untrue. I wanted the recently humbled (after her infamous Palm Beach arrest) Countess to thrive.

Yesterday, in a bizarre turn, former Lu frenemy Bethenny Frankel was quoted by Dave Quinn of People, as she provided the update that Lu had entered rehab for a relapse on the heels of family-related stress. Furthermore, Luann would not be at the reunion taping, which, according to Tamara Tattles is actually happening as I write this.

The People article conveys that Lu, who is not currently working with a personal publicist (where is Darren Bettencourt? Or Matthew David Byers? Or Lizzie Grubman?!!!!) had appointed Bethenny as her unofficial spokeswoman. This development attests to the authenticity of the fresh bond we see between the two costars on screen this season. Considering the fact that Luann is, allegedly, only close to two of her cast mates at present, this was a sound selection.

While Sonja Morgan would have been the only other candidate, her loose lips could sink battleships, and after the “boat ride from hell” in Colombia, the Countess likely deemed it best to avoid anything that even metaphorically has to do with sea vessels.

Bethenny’s no-nonsense, articulate and expertly crafted statements on Lu’s behalf surely has Bravo’s VP of Communications cowering about his potential replacement.

Where was Bethenny when we were all waiting for Peggy Sulahian to address the horrific homophobia rumors during last season of RHOC? Perhaps Bethenny could provide counsel to Southern Charm‘s most embattled duo? Maybe she could salvage Your Husband is Cheating on Us? Or recast Southern Charm Savannah?

Lu’s absence at the upcoming reunion has likely put a wrench in the “receipt” amassment activity of her cast mates. Dorinda Medley reportedly had axes to grind with her costar (including Luann’s harsh critique of her drinking) and now Dorinda will be forced to take the high road rather than get to say “I told you so” or underscore any hypocrisy.

Some viewers are speculating that there will be a videotaped message from Luann as the other women air grievances with one another.

Like it or not, I’m envisioning a separate unshaven Andy-Luann sit down in Sag Harbor — like the one we were treated to last year after the reunion.

Reports are now circulating that because of Lu’s absence, Ramona will be seated on a different couch than what was initially designated for her. I predict that Dorinda will go hard at Bethenny, with Carole and Tinsley as cheerleaders. Carole will also complain about Bethenny’s treatment of her. Without Luann, Bethenny will only have Sonja in her corner, and Sonja will have to deal with the other ladies’ complaints about her – particularly from Dorinda.

While the playing field seems uneven, – Bethenny and Sonja versus everybody else – we know that Bethenny is a sharp shooter and the queen of one-liners. As annoyingly predictable as this sounds, she’ll smack her attackers down and defend Sonja successfully against Dorinda, Ramona, Carole and Tinsley.

Yes, Luann may have temporarily lost control over her sobriety, but she has not lost her mind. Not. At. All. Having Bethenny be her mouthpiece is a brilliant move. At the reunion, Lu will have the authoritative and commanding voice – the one that Andy listens to most – representing her and issuing a positive message to the world.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV

#RHONY: Countess Luann Doesn’t Hold Back in Interview with Reality of Reality Podcast

In a tantalizing interview with Aliza Rosen for the podcast Reality of Reality, Countess Luann De Lesseps, who lounged on a hotel bed wearing Chanel pearls and a red dress, was cool and not at all uncool.

She talked about making her falls a part of the dance (the basis for a new single she’ll be working on in collaboration with Jake Shears of The Scissor Sisters) and reflected on her past mistakes with candor. For more, see my recap on the website All About TRH. Here’s the link: http://www.allabouttrh.com/2018/05/16/the-countess-recounts-her-epic-falls-and-reveals-her-greatest-lover-plus-calls-adam-kenworthy-boring-and-a-user/.

 

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