Bethenny Frankel is back on the mic after sparking controversy with her three-part conversation with Raquel Leviss.
“What a whirlwind. Interviewing Rachel, going viral, breaking the internet. So many rumors, so many press articles, and it’s unsettling, to be honest,” the 52-year-old Real Housewives of New York City alum began on her “Just B” podcast on Tuesday, August 22. “She’s gotten a lot of hate in the world and I’m taking on a lot of that hate now. And it’s been really interesting because I’m proud of myself for not caring really that much.”
Frankel’s interview with Leviss, 28, marked the first time the Vanderpump Rules star has spoken out since she completed 90 days of mental health treatment following the backlash of her affair with Tom Sandoval. Frankel — who has been vocal in recent weeks about reality stars not receiving residuals amid the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes — faced criticism from fans for not completely understanding Scandoval after she confessed that she didn’t watch complete episodes of Vanderpump Rules before her interview with Leviss. Other listeners accused her of capitalizing on Leviss’ trauma despite alleging the producers and networks are doing the same.
“Some people say to me, ‘Oh, wow, is Andy [Cohen] mad you’re doing this? Have you spoken to him?’ And I say, I have not, but I’m sure he is. And this is not a target on Andy. This is not a target on Bravo. This is about a systemic issue in the entertainment industry,” Frankel said.
Leviss, who confirmed during the interview that she wouldn’t be back for season 11, told Frankel last week that she opted to talk to her because she’s using “her case as an example of exploitation” on reality TV.
“People have come and said, ‘Oh, aren’t you a hypocrite?’” Frankel continued before referencing reports that she pitched a series about Connecticut moms to Bravo six months ago. “I’m a hypocrite because there was a show that I was talking [about] — I was never talking to Bravo, by the way. I was talking to a production company. I spoke to Andy one time, but he wasn’t even working on this project. And I spoke to a production company and Bravo was the most logical place that this project would live about Connecticut. And a couple of months ago, I decided I didn’t wanna do it anymore.”
Frankel claimed she opted against the project because it “wasn’t really that well thought out.”
“And I didn’t know that I would even talk about this ‘reality reckoning’ or have a problem with exploitation,” she continued. “I didn’t really think about it.”
Frankel first appeared on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart in 2005 before joining RHONY in 2008.
“I didn’t allow myself to be exploited because I also was in a power position,” she said of her own reality TV experience. “When you are a rainmaker, you make money, you make ratings, you’re not as exploited as other people who don’t really have a vote and a voice.”
Frankel went on to address speculation that she didn’t pay Leviss for the podcast.
“People are saying, ‘Oh, I should be paying her.’ They’re trying to say that I’m exploiting her for ratings to live on the rest of her life. … Whether I paid her or not, how do you know what I did? How do you know what I’m doing with her?” Frankel said. “Nobody knows what I’m really doing. But I love the speculation and the thing that people don’t realize, particularly on TikTok, but definitely social media in general, bring it on. I love it. We’re No. 1 worldwide. We’re having a conversation with a woman who hasn’t been able to get a conversation out unedited and everyone thinks that they saw everything on this television show.”