Bethenny Frankel thinks reality TV stars should join the picket lines amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.
“Hollywood is on strike, entertainers are fighting for residuals and no one will promote anything. Why isn’t reality TV on strike? I got paid $7,250 for my first season of reality TV and people are still watching those episodes,” Frankel, 52, said in an Instagram video on Wednesday, July 19. “We’ve always been the losers … During the last writers strike, we were providing all the entertainment and that’s really when the gold rush of reality TV started.”
The former Real Housewives of New York City star noted that she herself has “generated millions and millions of dollars in online advertising and impressions” by being part of reality TV — but very little of her money was made from actually being featured on the Bravo franchise.
“I have never made a single residual,” she claimed. “So either I’m missing something or we’re getting screwed too.”
It isn’t just the Real Housewives that Frankel thinks are recieving unfair treatment. Shows like The Bachelor and Bachelorette and Vanderpump Rules were also on her list of neglected programs that paid its cast “peanuts” despite making big imprints in the zeitgeist.
“Anyone shooting a Bravo show should not be shooting until they get paid residuals for all the episodes they’ve ever done or those episodes should be taken down,” she continued. adding that stars of the early ‘00s hit The Hills — including Lauren Conrad and Kristin Cavallari — “don’t make a damn dollar” from their time on the MTV series even though it was “getting ratings that network television doesn’t get” and is “still being watched today.”
“It’s total bulls—t,” she argued. “And I’m going to get into this because it just occurred to me everyone is talking about actors when we don’t get paid s-t.”
Frankel expanded on her thoughts in her Instagram caption, writing, “I’m well aware that unscripted talent aka ‘reality stars’ should have a union or simply be treated fairly and valued. … The mentality that we were nobodies and that these streamers and networks have given us platforms and that we can capitalize on them is also moronic.”
She continued: “If a network or streamer is currently making money on me telling someone to GO TO SLEEP then maybe I should be compensated. And maybe I’m the one who needs to GET A HOBBY and maybe this will be it.”
Frankel’s comments come on the heels of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) facing a breakdown in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over issues like residuals, fair pay and guidelines around the use of artificial intelligence.
After failing to draw up a new contract approved by both organizations earlier this month, SAG’s president, Fran Drescher, announced on July 14 that all members of the labor union were on strike until a fair deal was reached. Under strike guidelines, performers are no longer allowed to participate in or promote any struck work.
SAG joins the Writers Guild of America on the picket lines, who have also been on strike against the AMPTP since May over similar contract negation issues. This marks the first time in over sixty years both unions have been on strike at the same time.