A story from The Hollywood Reporer today revealed that Bravo breakout star Bethenny Frankel is currently filming the pilot for an advice-based talk show. Neither Frankel’s rep nor the production company Telepictures (Ellen, Lopez Tonight) would confirm or comment on talk of development. Though in a recent profile with THR, Frankel announced “I want to be on TV in a format where I can have a longer conversation with my fans rather than 140 characters on Twitter. It probably will be a talk show.”
Whether, like me, you teared up along with Frankel during the Bethenny Ever After season 2 finale or shake your fist at the sky over this acerbic woman’s sudden ubiquity, her success is a thing to marvel.The best-selling life books, the enormously lucrative sale of Skinny Girl to Beam Global, now the next step towards Skinny Girl world domination with her cleanse, the cherubic baby, the genuinely steady and good-humored husband. Me, I’m a fan. I know she’s crass and brash, all sharp edges and one-liners. I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I find her endlessly endearing on her reality show — whether she’s trying to keep from crying to her kind-eyed therapist or apologizing to her salt-of-the-Earth assistant after flipping out over the pink Thanksgiving bird. I like her interactions with her husband and in-laws; I admire that she kept in her bats— meltdown at her birthday party; and I like that the messiness of life continually forces her to acknowledge her crazy and lean on not just her wit but her community of people too.
This all plays enormously well on a reality show. I’m nervous though about the possibility of a talk show where Bethenny is up on stage, radiating in her fans’ goodwill while helping in her no-nonsense way to tidy up their lives. I like this woman, but I’m not sure her strength is listening. People make her itchy, right? At least that’s what we’ve been led to believe (and I admire her for being such an honest misanthrope). She’s great in a spotlight — just look at her in the finale up on stage at her sold-out book signings — but that is performance. And I think it’s that sound-bitey, sharp-tongued, all bones-and-sinew brand expert that turns some people so off.
That’s why I hope there’s something uncontrolled about her talk show pilot; that there’s room for others in the studio. If her show gets picked up, it’ll be interesting to see if Frankel is actually a a curious person, if she’s capable of truly listening to people or just continually anxious for whomever to hurry up and stop talking so she can hit them with a killer one-liner. No matter what, I’ll always have Season 3 of Bethenny Ever After, which goes into production soon.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Hamptons, Jill and Kelly are having a very toxic conversation about today’s news. “It’s just creepy, it’s weird,” Kelly whines. “Please, that woman is not a talk show host. She’s a talker. She’s a talk.” Poor Jill, who’d give anything for Bethenny to come over and doze on her summer house bed again, can only smile with that same pinched expression of righteous grief she’s worn throughout Season 4 during tense moments. She halfheartedly questions Bethenny’s motives, wondering with faux-innocence if her former friend’s marriage will survive such success. Secretly, she pines. Perhaps if she’d played her cards differently, Jill can’t help but think, she could have been the next Gayle King.
What do you think PopWatchers? Is the idea of this woman getting a talk show reason to cheer or sneer? Do you root for Bethenny? Do you too admit to getting misty during Bethenny Ever After reruns? Did the headline to this story drive you crazy? (I know, I know, there will never be another Oprah.)