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Vanity Fair Attempts A Bravo Takedown: Bethenny Frankel, Eboni K. Williams, & Leah McSweeny Go Public

Bethenny Frankel, Leah McSweeney, Eboni K. WIlliams, Bravo TV, Bravo NBC, NBCUniversal, Reality TV Reckoning, Peacock, Reality TV, Shed Media, Warner Bros. Discovery

The much talked-about Vanity Fair Bravo exposé is finally here with Bethenny Frankel, Eboni K. Williams, and Leah McSweeney being the only Bravolebrities to go on record against their former workplace.

Leah McSweeney’s drinking

The article, which was published today (October 30) on Vanity Fair’s homepage, starts off by discussing former Real Housewives of New York City star Leah McSweeney and her journey with sobriety.

Revealing that she made $3,000 per episode for her first season on the show, Leah told the magazine that her drinking quickly became a focus with producers, despite her attempts to keep that part of her life off of the show. “This shit is boring as hell,” Darren Ward, executive producer at Shed Media, reportedly told McSweeney. “You better turn it up.”

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Leah McSweeney (pictured, far right) tells her side of the story when it comes to her relationship with Bravo in a new Vanity Fair exposé. (Photo: Peacock)

Leah is upset that production did not intervene with the issues surrounding the group’s alcohol use and according to the report, production did not step in until Luann de Lesseps and Ramona Singer complained that Leah had been “too disruptive” while filming a cast trip in Rhode Island.

“If the cast is out at a restaurant, production pays the restaurant bill,” a production insider told VF. “On production trips, production stocks the fridge and pantry with requested food and beverages.”

According to Leah, Lisa Shannon, a VP at Shed, told her “We need you to be lucid” and a mental health professional called McSweeney to discuss the issues, although they reportedly did not mention alcohol.

Leah files an employment discrimination complaint

After appearing on RHONY Season 13, Leah filmed Season 3 of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, where her drinking was once again the focus of her co-stars. According to the report, production denies tipping off any of the women when it comes to Leah’s journey with sobriety.

Due to this back-and-forth and seemingly because she was left out of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: RHONY Legacy, Leah filed an employment discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Bravo, Shed Media, and Warner Bros. Discovery on March 10, 2023.

In this complaint, Leah named Andy Cohen as well as Shed’s Lisa Shannon, John Paparazzo and Darren Ward and on May 15, an attorney representing all respondents declined McSweeney’s allegations that the group has violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“Production spent endless amounts of time accommodating her and only internally expressed frustration with the fact that she was knowingly misrepresenting what had transpired,” the lawyer’s response reads, according to VF. “Complainant’s need for affirmation was never-ending but that need was completely separate from any alleged disability.”

In the report, it is alleged that Leah was paid $250,000 for one week of work on RHUGT.

Eboni K. Williams re-litigates RHONY Season 13

Another big portion of the article is spent on discussing Eboni K. Williams’ one season on The Real Housewives of New York City.

According to Eboni, heavy drinking wasn’t the only issue during her time with Bravo. Seeing as she was the first Black Housewife to be added to the RHONY cast, production and the network actually set up a “virtual education session” for the women prior to filming starting. Topics included “Black Women” (“How Black women are treated in larger society and the Black community”), “Microaggressions” (“What are they? How do you recognize them?”), “Lexicon” (“Appropriate vs. Harmful/Offensive language”), and “Missteps” (“What to do when you say something offensive? How do you move forward in that relationship?”). Williams, McSweeney, Morgan, Singer, and de Lesseps were on the call, “as well as an NBCUniversal communications executive, a Bravo publicist, and two representatives from a racial justice organization.”

As the Vanity Fair report outlines, Eboni felt this call was a “cover your ass” move. The article also indicates that Eboni had attempted to quit RHONY before production on the season had completed but production has denied this to the media outlet.

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The Real Housewives of New York City is a big focus of Vanity Fair’s recent Bravo article and features Eboni K. Williams sharing her experience. (Photo: Bravo / TV Deets Composite)

Many of the subsequent claims in the article have been made public before, with Eboni and Ramona going back and forth with each other in the press in recent years. As per an internal Warner Bros. investigation, Ramona was cleared and in this new VF article, Bravo sources also indicate some of the incidents were “she said, she said” situations that are simply hard to litigate, citing one example of Ramona allegedly saying the show didn’t need Black people as “inconclusive.”

“As soon as Shed became aware of concerns related to conduct on the RHONY season 13 production, producers immediately reached out to the affected employees to make sure they were supported, and Shed hired an outside investigator to conduct a thorough and confidential investigation,” a production source told VF. “Where issues were substantiated, appropriate corrective action was taken […] These measures were taken over two years before the casting of UGT: St. Barth’s [Legacy].”

According to the article, the RHONY Season 13 reunion was cancelled because HR was investigating Ramona at the time. She was subsequently re-hired again by Shed to film RHUGT: RHONY Legacy, with that show premiering this December.

Bethenny Frankel, Jill Zarin, and Bobby’s funeral

Another hot topic in the article is Bethenny Frankel and Jill Zarin claiming on Bethenny’s podcast that Jill never asked Bravo to film her husband Bobby Zarin’s funeral and was instead ambushed.

Not true, production sources tell VF, denying Bethenny and Jill’s claims. “I want to vomit at how I kissed Andy’s ass to come back,” Jill Zarin told the outlet when questioned why she signed on for Season 2 of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip if she had an issue with her treatment on RHONY years prior.


The article touches on a few other Bravo scandals like Caroline Manzo and Brandi Glanville’s precarious legal situation with the Morocco-based season of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, and Raquel Leviss’ time on Vanderpump Rules but other than that, no real new revelations have been made and it seems to mostly be a re-hashing of Bethenny’s “reality reckoning” claims.

Additionally, the article leaves out other Bravo shows like Below Deck, which has had its fair share of shocking moments when it comes to alcohol and drug use, and sexual harassment.

As the article notes, Bravo has already been pushed to update some of their policies and it seems to be due to Vanity Fair asking the right questions. As previously reported on TVDeets.com, NBCUniversal has updated its workplace conduct guidelines for reality shows with a new and renewed focus on mental health and alcohol-related support.

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