Back to life, back to reality — TV, that is. Four years after she quit The Real Housewives of New York City, Bethenny Frankel is returning to her roots and rejoining the Bravo series, sources reveal exclusively in the new issue of Us Weekly.
The former talk show host, whose self-titled daytime program was cancelled in February, will appear in the show's upcoming seventh season, insiders tell Us. Producers hope her return will help boost ratings, which fell to 1 million (from a record 2.6 million) during season six. "Bringing her back is a last-ditch effort," one source says.
Frankel will benefit, too, by having an outlet to promote her Skinnygirl empire, which includes a cocktail line, shapewear, and several books, including a new children's book, Cookie Meets Peanut. (The story was inspired by her 4-year-old daughter, Bryn, and her beloved dog, Cookie.)
Bryn was born just a few months before Frankel announced that she wouldn't be returning for season four of RHONY back in 2010. At the time, she hinted to Us she'd decided to leave because of events that had transpired the previous season, when she fought with former BFF Jill Zarin and longtime rival Kelly Bensimon. She added that she didn't see "any reason to go back."
Indeed, Frankel had plenty of other projects to keep her busy, including the Bravo spin-off Bethenny Getting Married?, which documented her engagement to then-fiance Jason Hoppy, and two subsequent seasons of Bethenny Ever After.
Since December 2012, she has also been preoccupied with her divorce from Hoppy. The two have been tied up in an ugly legal battle for more than a year; they only recently settled their custody dispute over Bryn.
Like Frankel herself, RHONY has changed a lot in the last four years. Only LuAnn de Lesseps and Ramona Singer are left of the original Housewives, and both appear just in recurring roles. The other current stars are Sonja Morgan, Carole Radziwill, Heather Thomson, and Kristen Taekman.
Bensimon and Zarin left in 2011, but there's a chance the latter could make a cameo in season seven. She "might come back to rehash their issues," a second insider tells Us of Frankel's frenemy. "But so far it's just talk."