Mega-producer Andy Cohen confirmed March 23 that the iconic reality TV series will be entirely rebooted, with original stars shifting to a spin-off revival series, tentatively dubbed “RHONY: Throwback” or “RHONY: Legacy.”
The news has been mounting since Bethenny Frankel exited “RHONY,” followed by the series parting ways with Dorinda Medley and Tinsley Mortimer while adding in fresh faces Eboni K. Williams and Leah McSweeney. “RHONY” mainstays Ramona Singer, LuAnn De Lesseps, and Sonja Morgan also have been in the limelight for a variety of reasons, ranging from allegations of racial insensitivity to alcohol and drug dependency.
“You know that we’re at a crossroads for ‘RHONY,’” Cohen told Variety. “We’ve put last season of ‘RHONY’ under so much scrutiny and trial that I hate to rehash. We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out where to go. And the plan that we’ve come up with, I think, is a real gift to the fans.”
“RHONY” will be split into two iterations: an entire cast overhaul to reboot the franchise, and a separate original stars series.
There is no casting news yet for either series. Bravo exclusively confirmed to IndieWire that “RHONY: Throwback” will feature “some of the most beloved New York Housewives,” and that the reboot and recasting comes after 13 seasons of the original series, which premiered in March 2008. The “RHONY” Season 13 finale was August 31, 2021, and production on Season 14 was halted due to numerous factors.
To Variety, Cohen credited the success of Peacock’s “Real Housewives” cross-franchise mash-up series, “Ultimate Girls Trip,” for inspiring “RHONY: Throwback.” “Girls Trip” will also bring back former “RHONY” stars Medley and original star Jill Zarin for Season 2.
“[‘Girls Trip’] informed the idea of doing this throwback, that’s allowed us to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, there is a big desire for an element of nostalgia,'” Cohen added. “Our loyal fans have spoken as to what they want to see and what they don’t want to see — and we’ve taken that all into account, and the [‘Legacy’] series where you’re going to expect to see fan-favorites from the show’s great history.”
Cohen noted that Zarin is being eyed to lead “Legacy,” while fans wouldn’t be surprised if Medley is brought back full-time, along with “Scary Island” icon Kelly Bensimon. As for Frankel, whose reality TV deal spawned HBO Max’s “Big Shot With Bethenny” series, Cohen noted a “RHONY” return is unlikely.
“Her life is now evolved to another place, so I can’t imagine her wanting to do it. But of course, you know, I never turn down a conversation with Bethenny about coming back,” the Bravo visionary stated.
As for the new series, Cohen is on a mission to represent the “rainbow that is New York City,” and extending the search to all five boroughs as opposed to just Manhattan.
“There are thousands of stories to tell here,” Cohen said. “This is the most multicultural, diverse, and energetic and exciting city in America: We are searching for a multicultural group of friends who really best reflect the most exciting city in the country. We’re looking for a group of women who are real friends, and who are of diverse backgrounds, races and religions.”
Currently, Bravo is “interviewing multiple groups of friends” to get the cast “right” and not rush into production. The new “RHONY” will center on five new stars that, Cohen hopes, “nobody’s ever heard of.”
“This is the most exciting casting proposition that I’ve been involved with,” Cohen said of his almost 20-year career at Bravo. “We are quite literally looking for who will be the new ‘Real Housewives of New York City!’ And I think this represents a tremendous opportunity for a rebirth of the show. What we’re looking for is everything that makes a great Housewife: fun, opinionated, successful, aspirational women who represent a side of New York that we want to see more of.”
Cohen summed up, “It’s too important to too many people.”