Nearly three months after Bethenny Frankel, 49, turned the Real Housewives of New York world upside-down by announcing she was quitting for a second time, fans are just now getting over the shocking departure. However, it seems some have adjusted faster than others. RHONY OG LuAnn de Lesseps, 54, has seen Bethenny quick the show before, so instead of focusing on what the show lost, she’s excited for what the next season holds. Specifically, she’s excited for the addition of Leah McSweeney, 37, as a new Housewife. “Yeah, I like her,” LuAnn de Lesseps tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY at NYC’s BravoCon for her Life Is A Cabaret Show.
“Leah holds her on as a new Housewife,” LuAnn tells HollywoodLife. “It’s not easy amongst this group. But what I like about her is she’s gritty, she’s got grit, and she’s vulnerable at the same time.” Yet, even LuAnn had to admit that RHONY will not be the same now that Bethenny is gone. “It’s going to be different because, you know, Bethenny comes into a room and she’s a big [presence.]”
“She takes up a lot of space,” LuAnn tells us. “I think the women now have room to be more themselves. Each character gets to be more of themselves. I feel like there was a lot of times, it was all about Bethany, and now she’s gone, and so it can be all about us.”
HollywoodLife: You’ve been pretty vocal about your feelings on Bethenny leaving.
LuAnn de Lesseps: Oh, I know. Well listen, we’ve had our obstacles, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I wish her the best. I don’t hold any grudges. I’m not that kind of girl, and I wish her the best.
Would you be open to having a conversation with her if she wanted to talk to you? Have you guys spoken at all?
Absolutely. No, we haven’t. But I’m open.
Are you viewing Leah as a replacement for Bethenny or more someone moving the show forward?
She’s not a replacement for Bethenny. She is her own person. She really does have a big personality, and I think that fans are going to love her.
How will the show survive without Bethenny? We’re seeing Lisa [Vanderpump] walk away from [Real Housewives of] Beverly Hills. Bethenny walking away from New York. How will the show carry on without her? Do you guys feel like as a cast you’re strong enough?
Of course. We did many years without Bethenny Frankel, and we were just fine.
Yeah, that’s very true.
This season is going to be fabulous.
“I have decided to leave the ‘Housewives’ franchise to explore my next chapter,” Bethenny said when announcing her RHONY departure on Aug. 21. She would later reveal that she didn’t leave the franchise over a dispute over money (she was, according to reports, the highest-paid Housewives cast member in history.) She revealed that she just felt like her time on the show was up. “I like to leave when something for me is at its peak, and I was talking to Bravo about many different things, and I just decided let’s roll, it’s time to go.”