You know Bravo's tagline "Watch What Happens"? That's exactly what we're going to have to do when it comes to the recent controversies surrouding Bethenny Frankel.
The former Real Housewives star, whose solo show Bethenny Ever After returns for its third season on Feb. 20, talked with reporters today at Bravo's press tour panel, where she assured us that questions about how "real" her reality show is and the drama surrounding her Skinnygirl Cocktails business, among other things, will definitely be addressed on the show.
Other topics Frankel tackled? The firing of her former costar Jill Zarin, with whom Frankel has been in a longtime feud, and Bravo's decision to air footage of Russell Armstrong...
Sour Grapes: Any true Bravo fans know about the infamous feud between Frankel and her former Real Housewives costar Zarin. Now that Zarin and several of her RHONYC co-stars have been let go by the network, Frankel was asked if she has any advice for her former besties. "Jill Zarin is definitely a survivor. She is definitely well-to-do and I don't think she's worried about finding a job."
Touching a bit on Zarin's firing, Frankel says she's not shocked that several of the ladies were let go by Bravo. "She was on the show for years, and in many of the cities people are only on for one or two seasons," she explains. "It just happens that they make it a little fresher. I'm sure she'll find exactly what she's looking for. It probably just stings a little bit. It's a little bit difficult. She has her own way of dealing with it. I'm sure it's difficult for her a little bit to watch what's going on with me. Maybe if I were in her position, that'd be difficult for me, too. She handles it the way she knows how."
Crossing The Line?: The issue of Russell Armstrong's tragic suicide was brought on during the panel, and Frankel was asked if she thinks Bravo may be crossing the line when it comes to the Real Housewives franchise. While not addressing the Armstrong marriage specifically, Frankel says the franchise is much different from when she first signed on, perhaps attracting "more dramatic women" who "want to be more dramatic than the next."
"When I came on the show, it was called Manhattan Moms. Real Housewives wasn't even a franchise. There was one city," she explains. "We were all very new to it and we didn't even know what it was. It was very fresh. Now, people who sign on to do reality shows, they have a preconceived notion. They've seen it already and some people probably show a more dramatic side of their lives and are more dramatic because they want to up the ante. Certainly on Bravo the shows are real. It's really happening."
Addressing the Drama: Frankel has faced several media attacks in recent months, including whether or not scenes from her show are staged and that her Skinnygirl Cocktails aren't exactly what they're advertised to be. Frankel credits her background and experiences for helping her get through the storm, pun fully intended. (Get it, the boat story?)
"I'd say I'm definitely a survivor because of [my background]. This season is about working through it, whether it's in your relationship or in your business," she says. "The minute that I sold part of my business, it was like someone was waiting at my door to hit me with a baseball bat in the back of the head. I do tend to thrive when I need to survive, when I'm up against adversity. "
While Frankel says the bad press has been "challenging," it's helped her learn a lot. Also? It's stroking her ego a bit! "I'm also a little bit flattered because it means I must've really made something out of myself, because there are that many that that want to tear me down," she says. "A lot of people want to tear me down, and if I were them, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen."
So why hasn't Frankel publicly addressed any of the drama? "There was a period when I felt that I really had to react and explain and that period has passed. A lot of that gets addressed on the show."
(Bravo and E! are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)