If anyone was going to have something substantive to say about Bethenny Frankel’s current campaign against Bravo and the Real Housewives franchise, it was going to be her former Real Housewives of New York castmates. But when asked about the Frankel’s attempted “takedown” of the franchise by a fan during a panel for Ultimate Girls Trip: RHONY Legacy, moderator Michael Rapaport shot the question down.
“Does this look like a fucking takedown,” asked Rapaport, pointing to the crowded convention center ballroom, before shouting, “Next!”
More from The Hollywood Reporter
Rapaport, an actor who recently appeared in a pickle costume on The Masked Singer, was introduced at the top of the panel as a “ginormous Bravo fan.” His moderation did not seem to get a surplus of love from the audience. He was booed for cutting off a second audience question — not that any of them were remotely contentious. Before moving on from the Frankel moment, however, castmate Kelly Bensimon did manage to get in a few words.
“She just emailed me and asked me if I would be on her podcast,” said Bensimon, who appeared on stage with fellow former Real Housewives of New York stars Luann de Lesseps, Dorinda Medley, Sonja Morgan and Kristen Taekman. “I told her I’d revisit it in 2025.”
Bensimon appeared on three seasons of The Real Housewives of New York before departing Bravo for nearly a decade. Frankel, who’s been using her platform to rally for unionizing reality talent and rethinking what she’s described as an exploitative working environment, recently referenced Bensimon in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. On the stage, Bensimon described her return to the Housewives franchise as “cathartic.”
No doubt aided by Rapaport’s line of questioning and rapport with the audience, there were no questions about the lone missing castmember of Ultimate Girls Trip: Ramona Singer.
On Oct. 30, allegations of past racial statements and slurs made by Singer resurfaced in a Vanity Fair story featuring the voices of several alums, including New York castmember Eboni Williams, the first Black woman to ever be cast on the show. The story alleges that Singer used the N-word during a conversation with a Black crewmember during production of season 13 of the series, though a resulting network investigation was deemed “inconclusive.”
The interesting thing about the women on the panel is that they were all, essentially, let go. Medley was dropped in 2020. A year later, upon the conclusion of the 13th season, the entire cast — including original leads de Lesseps and Singer — was scrapped in the interest of starting over with a new group of woman. Executives briefly considered a “Legacy” cycle featuring past castmates before tweaking the idea to fold it into the Ultimate Girls Trip franchise.
As for the new cast of the The Real Housewives of New York, except for Jenna Lyons, they appeared during Saturday’s session of BravoCon. The show has yet to be renewed. But earlier that day, executive producer Andy Cohen voiced his support for rebooting Housewives casts when it makes sense. “I think it showed us that it can be done, and done well.” he said during a Q&A with Rachel Lindsay.
Cohen also chimed in, albeit briefly, on the Singer situation. “I think the most that we can say is that we shot Ultimate Girls Trip,” said Cohen. “She’s on the show. She’s not here and that’s where we’re at.”
Replied Lindsay, “And I’m OK with that.”
Best of The Hollywood Reporter