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Tom Gliatto and PEOPLE TV Critic
February 15, 2014 10:20 AM

Bethenny Frankel has played her hand well … just about as well as anyone who found fame with a reality show called The Real Housewives of New York City could.

No, she played it better – she has been disciplined and smart. Look at Bethenny has 41 credits as herself. Jill Zarin has only 25.

And, yes, LuAnn de Lesseps acted on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and released a single called “Chic, C’est La Vie.” However, the ultimate reality star is she who builds the strongest career for herself as herself.

LuAnn as self? Fifteen. Chic or no, c’est la vie.

Now comes news that Frankel will be losing her syndicated talk show, Bethenny. That would have seemed to be the ultimate vehicle for someone whose main role has been Bethenny Frankel.

Or will it be?

Are there fresh, reality-based projects that would allow Frankel to continue expanding the considerable resources of herself? It’s a challenge, true, especially since at this point she should not have to put up with sharing oxygen with an ensemble of other women and/or men striving to make a career as themselves, come hell or high water.

Here are three.

1. The Real Former Housewife of New York City.
Come to think of it, this would basically be a return to Bethenny Ever After terrain, and that feels like treading water or running in place. (Imagine if Jennifer Aniston for years had to generate headlines simply on the basis of her hairstyle.) So, no. Perhaps you could call it The Real Former Housewife Formerly of New York City and put her somewhere unexpected. Maybe Prince Edward Island. Don’t underestimate Bethenny rising to the challenge. She could maneuver Anne of Green Gables off the land and into the water.

2. Dancing with the Bethenny.
ABC’s ballroom-dancing competition has gotten stale with its seasonal agglomeration of celebrities. (It’s too lumpy to be called a lineup. It’s an agglomeration). Why not devote a season to just one dancer? And why not make that one dancer Bethenny? If she were voted off, of course, it would make for a regrettably short season. But what if she made it all the way?! And she has previous experience: She briefly participated in ABC’s short-lived Skating with the Stars. Skates, dancing shoes – it s all reality ankles and feet.

3. Confessions of a Housewife: The Bethenny Frankel Story.
This is perfect: A Lifetime movie in which she would play herself and, if I correctly gauge her intelligence and skill in approaching this challenging role, very likely land an Emmy nomination. The tricky part will be casting everyone else. I do think Sarah Paulson would kill as Alex McCord.

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