Come June 11, Bethenny Frankel will take her turn trying to be daytime’s new girlfriend, with a six-week test airing on Fox-owned stations in six markets.
“I’m the Queen of TMI,” says Frankel, who will also serve as one of the show’s executive producers, along with the team from Warner Bros.’ Ellen. “I’m pretty open about my own life. My talk show is going to be a conversation between women. It will be all of those things you talk to your girlfriends about when you go out to have cocktails—kids, husbands, grooming, manscaping, whether we’re repressed or satisfied. I like talking about all of it.”
Warner Bros. and its first-run production arm, Telepictures, hopes to capture Frankel’s candid nature and turn her into daytime’s next BFF, a role that’s been lacking ever since Oprah wrapped last May.
“You don’t really hear people talking in a real way on TV right now,” says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures. “She’s the same person onscreen that she is in real life and she’s a little more provocative and honest than most people. The goal is to capture that intangible thing—the real conversation between friends.”
Guests on The Bethenny Frankel Show will include both celebrities and regular folks, although Frankel is more interested in talking to celebs about relevant topics than in promoting their latest project.
“It’s not about trying to find the biggest, most A-list celebrities, but what those celebs will bring to the table when we are talking about a certain topic,” Frankel says. “A show will not live or die based on the celebrities it books.”
There will also be audience participation, since Frankel considers herself a woman of the people.
Frankel’s fans know her from her long stint as a reality-show star. She was one of two finalists on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart in 2005 and since then has starred in Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York City and two spinoffs that were all about her: BethennyGetting Married and Bethenny Ever After.
To do a successful talk show, she says, you “want to be open, have fun, be honest and know how to connect with an audience. All of that I’ve already done.”
Bethenny will draw elements from reality television, with backstage shots and a bit of the production process peeking through.
“I think her audience has an expectation with her of being able to see behind the curtain,” says Mary Connelly, one of Ellen’s executive producers, along with Ed Glavin and Andy Lassner. Ellen Degeneres will also be an executive producer on Bethenny and will make an appearance in the show’s first week.
“You may see cue cards, cameras, producers; you may even see Andy [Lassner] and Mary [Connelly],” Glavin says.
“The good thing about Bethenny is that nothing feels contrived coming from her,” Lassner says. “It doesn’t feel like we are taking someone and turning her into a talk-show host. If we are successful at this, we have taken Bethenny and allowed her to be Bethenny.”
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