#RHONY, Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY: Crap with the Countess…& Chicago?

A source tells me that Luann De Lesseps’ personal publicist recently fired her. This is ALLEGED, please note, but the source goes on to add that it was because Lu wasn’t being totally truthful about her troubles — and was, generally, a handful to deal with.

This report explains why Bethenny Frankel stepped into the role of spokeswoman for Lu, and why she was the one to give Dave Quinn at People talking points for an article about Luann not attending the reunion (to undergo round two of rehab for alcohol addiction).

The source adds that the folks at Bravo “don’t want to handle her shit anymore.” An interesting Twitter handle to follow that keeps up with the RHONY-Lu shenanigans, and appears to be impressively in the know and legitimately well-connected is @myfeetonfleek.

Celebrity gossip columnist Rob Shuter (The Naughty Gossip) recently expressed to podcast host Kate Casey (Reality Life with Kate Casey) that Luann is at a point where she doesn’t “need” RHONY and has a very full life outside of the show with friends, a packed itinerary and a successful cabaret show.

He said fans should not be surprised if Lu departs the RHONY franchise to focus on family, health and sobriety. Shuter also mentioned that producers from the longstanding Broadway production of Chicago were at one of her #CountessAndFriends (cabaret) performances.

Luann De Lesseps starring in Chicago in the near future? Could that actually happen?

For now, without official personal PR representation, the best person to ask might just be Bethenny!

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

#BravoTV: A “Firing” or a Resignation? Stars Are Often Saved By Semantics

I recently published a post with Rob Shuter’s intel on the Carole Radziwill departure from Real Housewives of New York.

In a nutshell, Shuter, a well known gossip columnist, shared that Radzi had been fired from the franchise. The implication was that this was as a result of some sort of “it’s her or me” ultimatum stated by cast mate Bethenny Frankel who had a major beef with her former friend.

Do I personally believe Carole was fired? No.

I think Carole was exasperated with Bethenny’s nitpicking, constant criticisms and complaints, and I think Carole decided it was optimal to opt out of (what had inevitably become) “The Bethenny Show”.

But that theory begs the following question regarding Bravo in general: “Real Housewives” do not announce a departure mid-season unless there’s a real problem, so why did Carole and the network let us know now that she wouldn’t be returning next season?

My personal contention is that Carole lost her characteristic cool at the reunion, where she blurted out that she didn’t need to subject herself to the torture any longer. After this impromptu announcement, the network may have encouraged a public statement because there were too many witnesses present at filming for this to be kept under wraps long-term.

The above is only my theory and I could be wrong…while Rob Shuter is correct, or vis versa. I don’t think we’ll get a definitive answer to this, at least not any time soon.

One thing I’ll tell you is that while Bravo has (technically) “fired” talent in the past, it most often doesn’t go down the way people would assume. For instance, it’s not similar to how it was shown on NBC’s The Apprentice (or Celebrity Apprentice): An executive isn’t pointing a finger at a Real Housewife saying “you’re fired.” More often than not, there’s a discussion that results in a “mutual decision” that things aren’t working out.

The executive might say something like “X, I see how you aren’t enjoying yourself this season. I know we’ve been asking you to tone down your weekly blog posts and not go rogue in your interviews. We’ve been demanding a lot of you and I can see how that’s really taking a major toll. I know you’re contracted til the end of next year, but we’ll allow you to get out of your contract and write your letter of resignation now.”

Bear in mind that there are also channels to go through and kinks to work out initially between the production company and Bravo the TV network (i.e. Evolution Media produces Vanderpump Rules, RHOBH and RHOC for Bravo. Shed Media produces RHONY. Sirens Media is the powerhouse behind RHONJ.)

The network would rather end things amicably and lead the discussion in such a manner that the star can declare they’ve independently made their final decision about not returning.

For legal reasons and to end off on a good note, this is a sound strategy by Bravo.

More often than not, this is how a Bravo “firing” actually goes down, with semantics on a star’s side. One particular Bravolebrity was greatly encouraged to hand in a letter of resignation last year and that individual can now say they “quit”, despite the fact that there was an exorbitant amount of tension, anxiety and breath holding until the official severing of ties.

The act of firing is a royal headache that not only involves the most influential higher-ups, but a legal department as well as personal attorneys.

While there may be no way to confirm the precise circumstances surrounding Carole Radziwill’s RHONY departure in particular…in general, most discussions that result in the parting of ways are orchestrated by ringmasters of collaborative reasoning.

These authoritative – yet diplomatic – figures are also discerning deliberators, skilled at relaying rationale so it resonates.

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Reality TV

#RealityTV: Remember, You’re Tweeting About A TV SHOW, Fans!

Robin Thicke is not the only one to identify where there are “blurred lines”…

When blind items hit the Internet, readers scramble to figure out all possible allusions. Paragraphs that are so murky can be hard to solve…unless a reader is entirely familiar with the situations – and in terms of what I frequently cover, the reality show. Lately, there have been a slew of blind items clearly pertaining to popular reality shows.

It is one thing to see oblique references on the Internet, but what about when targeted information about an individual is blasted out on social media platforms? In recent times, we’ve seen it is an effective strategy for shaming those who are in the wrong, and getting that “news” out to the masses. In this post Harvey Weinstein scandal world, the Internet has been an asset to enforcing the message that a certain type of conduct is intolerable. But what about when the Internet is used by the Harvey Weinsteins to smear victims?

Perpetrators of bad behavior are notorious for ensuring that they have a platform to spin stories negatively – in order to feed the press info that shifts focus away from their own atrocities.“The Internet is a void that everyone is screaming into,” my own father reasons, “Who in the world is listening?”

It’s clear he doesn’t believe that many people are really taking inane reports they read as truths. The problem is that people very easily believe what they read in a blog established to malign someone without merit.

We laugh at individuals who fall for National Enquirer headlines while on line at the grocery store, but we also easily witness how a false story takes off with alarming speed. And my father did not grow up with the Internet, nor does he rely on it for his work, unlike another man his age who sits in the oval office and has taken to Twitter in erratic fashion.

Covering reality television, I recently saw how viewers – more accurately, fans – escalate from discussing who their favorite characters are and trading barbs about what’s seen on TV…to hurling outlandish and abusive personalized attacks at one another.

“I said that I found Kenya Moore of Real Housewives of Atlanta to be frightening,” my friend David relates, “and suddenly I see tweets about me, including a poll, weighing in on how racist I am. I reiterate: The poll was about ME. Racist?! Because I happen to find a reality character frightening due to her intense behavior on a reality show?! How in the world did people make the stretch to ‘racist.’? I was trolled for months by these same multiple accounts. When I reported it to Twitter, an email came back saying that Twitter didn’t find the tweets abusive. I felt completely let down by the social media platform.”

A woman who chose to identify herself for this piece as “Carly” explained her similar vexations with Twitter: “I’m being taunted mercilessly by the same series of accounts because I dared to comment on a Real Housewives franchise. What ensued were below the belt tweets that included personal information about me. These sick individuals had apparently visited my other social media pages to check details. As a single mom with a very young child, I was terrified and immediately set all my accounts to ‘private’. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I contacted a lawyer and asked family members to stay at my house with my child and I for a few days. It’s insane that conversations via social media can lead to this much panic. I am still considering closing my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for good.”Family members have also advised me in the past to “get off social media” when I privately shared anecdotes of that nether world (I now mainly avoid doing so). I think that due to the type of work I’ve conducted over the years, predominantly in the area of marketing, I have to be on these platforms generally for outreach.

In a non-professional capacity, I love to promote the good work of my friends. Facebook and Twitter are ideal for sharing a podcast link or one to an article. It does frighten me to see how fans blur the lines between reality and reality TV on Twitter though. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life. It’s also quite the phenomenon that Real Housewives franchises specifically are the ones to garner this much negative attention and breed such a level of hostility between fans who simply want to opine on a silly TV show.

Why do you think the Real Housewives inspire such a reaction in the Twitterverse?

Would you steer clear of social media if you were personally attacked?

If not, what measures would you take to protect yourself?

I would love to hear from you readers and get your individual takes. For now, try to remember that television viewing is typically described as “leisure time.” It is an experience you are supposed to enjoy and do while you’re relaxing. Perhaps it is best to limit yourself to one screen and ensure that you screen out the rest!

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#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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