Bethenny Frankel Says RHONY Became 'Exhausting': 'I Was Staying Because of Money'
"It was really the paycheck, which was, you know, astronomical at that point," said the former Bravo star
“Well, it’s exhausting and emotional. People across the franchise will tell you they develop anxiety, and it’s very stressful,” Frankel, 49, told Variety of her time on the Bravo series. “And that’s not how I am in the relationships that I’ve cultivated over the years.”
“My ex Dennis used to say, ‘If someone said what that person said to you, I would never speak to them again as long as I live,'” she recalled of her late ex, Dennis Shields. “You’re in a show environment, and it’s taxing. But sometimes what’s happening emotionally on the screen is also a result of exhaustion.”
Frankel was part of the debut cast of RHONY, helping launch the show into a massive success. At the end of season 3, she exited to lead a Bravo spinoff, Bethenny Getting Married (later titled Bethenny Ever After). She went on to host a self-titled talk show, Bethenny, from 2012-2014 before returning to RHONY from seasons 7 through 11.
In August 2019, Frankel shocked fans when she announced she was leaving the Housewives franchise to “explore my next chapter.”
Frankel, who runs and oversees multiple businesses, including Skinnygirl, wanted to focus her attention on some of the things that matter most in her life — most importantly, her daughter and her B Strong foundation.
“I have a real career. So it’s really hard when we’re not covering that what I’m really doing is my career, because I then have to do the show and my real career,” Frankel, who shares 9-year-old daughter Bryn with ex Jason Hoppy, told Variety. “So if we’re just showing me having lunches and on vacations, then I’ve got three jobs — because I’ve got to be a mother too.”
“So it becomes really exhausting and taxing, and you get mired in caring about things and people that you just normally wouldn’t care about,” she continued. “There’s a level of gossip, and a level of gotcha — oh, you did that and you cheated and you’re really broke, and you did this. I just was ready. I just felt like I have to kind of really spend my time focusing on business, my daughter, philanthropy.”
“You want to just feel good about what you did,” she added. “There’s no price on sanity, and your mental health and your emotional health. And you can’t pay me enough to just have a hysterical meltdown crying right now.”
And despite speculation that she left the show because she wasn’t satisfied with her paycheck, Frankel admitted it was the opposite.
“I was possibly going back, but I just kept thinking: I discussed it with my boyfriend [Paul Bernon] and my friends on beach walks,” she said. “Everyone thinks I left because of money. I wasn’t leaving because of money, I was staying because of money.”
“It no longer became this platform to promote my business, because I had done that, and there was more promoting sort of new and questionable businesses than the legitimate ones at this point, if that makes any sense,” she explained. “So it wasn’t the platform anymore. It was really the paycheck, which was, you know, astronomical at that point. And so I was staying because of money. And I just thought to myself, a bartender, a high-class prostitute who’s making a lot of money, you gotta sometimes make a move, and just say, ‘Let me just do what feels right to me.'”
Frankel also discussed her decision to exit the show in October while speaking at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit.
“It wasn’t about money,” she said. “If I went back, it was about money, if that makes any sense. When I joined The Housewives, everyone told me not to do it and I went with my gut to do it. And when I thought about leaving, everyone told me not to leave. And I went with my gut to leave.”
Frankel is currently preparing her return to television with a new reality business competition series called The Big Shot With Bethenny.
The show, which will feature contestants competing for the coveted “second-in-command” role on Frankel’s executive team, has been given a half-hour, eight-episode order from HBO Max, the network’s upcoming new streaming service that is expected to debut in May.
It will be produced by Frankel’s B Real Productions (which produced Bethenny & Fredrik), as well as reality TV mega-producer Mark Burnett and MGM Television.
“Did you miss me? I’m BACK… in my new show,” Frankel tweeted on Wednesday. “It’s personal. It’s business… and EVERYTHING is my business.”
“Aside from motherhood, what truly defines me as a person is being a driven, passionate and hard-working woman determined to make the impossible possible,” she added in a statement. “My mantra is to come from a place of ‘yes’ and to find and create the solution. I am an executor of visions, and I share and impart that information to those who work with me. MGM has been neck-in-neck with me with ideas and their execution. I couldn’t be more thrilled to continue my longstanding relationship with Mark Burnett on this series and pay this American Dream story forward.”