According to Bethenny Frankel and NeNe Leakes, their friendships with Andy Cohen were never as nice as they seemed on TV.
The former Real Housewives stars opened up about their respective drama with Cohen, 55, during a lengthy two-part episode of Frankel’s “Just B” podcast on Thursday, September 28. Frankel, 52, said Cohen’s relationships with Housewives stars sometimes feel like a “game” to become “Andy’s Favorite.”
She explained: “There’s always questions, ‘Who texts you the most? Who do you text the most?’ And the thing is, we’re all in the game. … We all want his approval, we all want to be the favorite. We want to be able to say, ‘I’ve been on that show the most.’ It’s like a calling card.”
Frankel went on to note that “there’s a psychology that goes on with this group and this show,” adding, “He used to be an executive and he’s a producer so there’s this power play. … It’s tricky.”
The Real Housewives of New York City alum’s relationship with Cohen made headlines earlier this year when she claimed he “despises” her for speaking out against the poor treatment of reality stars and rallying to unionize realize TV casts and crews. Her “reality TV reckoning” has received support from SAG-AFTRA amid the union’s current Hollywood strike for fair pay and better contracts.
“I’m in this hybrid world where I think, ‘We kind of really don’t like each other, but we’re both playing this game.’ And yet, when things are happening for me, he’s not really congratulating me,” Frankel told Leakes, 55. “And I feel like he has this sort of resentment because I’m supposed to be beneath him, because we sort of came up at the same time. … So I’m thinking, ‘I don’t think he likes me at all. I think we were both playing this game for some time.’ And one day I just decided not to be afraid and open my f—king mouth because the only person I was protecting in that whole realm was him, and he hasn’t been protecting me.”
Leakes, for her part, told Frankel she feels “the same way you do,” noting, “I don’t think he ever liked me.” The former Real Housewives of Atlanta star filed a lawsuit against Cohen and Bravo in April 2022, accusing them of “[fostering a corporate and workplace culture in which racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not encouraged.”
The lawsuit was dismissed that August after Leakes and the defendants filed a joint stipulation without prejudice before a hearing took place. Since then, Leakes has claimed that Cohen closed doors for her in the entertainment industry.
“As a Black woman, I have to be able to do everything. At the end of the day, I do cartwheels and flips,” she told Frankel on Thursday. “They shut my work down. I do everything. So you mean to tell me as [a] talented person, there was nothing for me to host, there was nothing for me to act in, sing in, dance in, jump in clap in — nothing?”
Leakes compared her situation to that of The Real Housewives of Orange County alum Vicki Gunvalson, who continued to appear on Bravo after she withdrew her 2019 defamation lawsuit against costar Kelly Dodd.
“My feelings are they pretty much said, ‘F that Black bitch!’” Leakes stated. “They never respected me, no one, to even give me one call. … I want fair treatment.”
Cohen has not publicly addressed Frankel and Leakes’ podcast comments.