“We talked about everything. There were people who really wanted: ‘Let’s just totally start over.’ And then there were people who were like, ‘Wait a minute, but what about this group that we’ve invested 13 years in?’ I think that’s why this is really listening to everybody,” the 53-year-old producer told Variety on March 23. “We have a pretty active research department at Bravo. So I will say when research comes to the programming execs, it’s usually not that surprising given what we’re already hearing.”
The most recent cast of RHONY included Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan, Ramona Singer, Leah McSweeney and Eboni K. Williams with Bershan Shaw in a “friend” role.
“I think that we’ve put last season of RHONY under so much scrutiny and trial that I hate to rehash. When we were shooting, we only had five Housewives, we were shooting during COVID, we were tremendously limited as to where we could shoot. And this was a show that was really shot differently than all the other cities, because New York City is very much a huge character in the show,” he said. “That all aside, I think that if you look at any series, where the ratings are declining week to week as the series goes on, and the viewer feedback is growing disenchanted on social media, etc. — I think that was a big red flag for us. Because this is a beloved show. And that’s part of the reason why it’s taken a bit for us to just sit with this and figure out how we want to make this right, and make it a gift to the fans, which I think this will wind up being.”
After delays, the reunion was canceled in September 2021, with the network citing scheduling conflicts. News broke the next month that Bravo was investigating alleged racism on the set after Eboni, the first Black Housewife, filed a report about Ramona, one of the OG stars.
“Eboni filed a complaint over an alleged racial comment Ramona made [toward] Eboni weeks before the [season 13] reunion was supposed to take place,” a source told Us Weekly at the time. “It was filed internally through human resources. … The findings were not corroborated.”
Cohen spoke to the outlet about the successful — and not-so-successful — attempts at diversity on the network and RHONY specifically.
“One of the things that makes these shows such a success is that they’re about real people with real connections, and their interactions,” he said. “The thing we always come back to is that our greatest successes — and certainly one of the things that resonated with RHONY in the past — is featuring women who had relationships before joining the show, and we’re going to focus on that going forward.”
Cohen concluded: “People call me Bravo Andy, and they either blame me or applaud me for everything that happens on Bravo, whether I have something to do with it or not. So I feel especially connected to the audience. I do a Q&A with the Watch What Happens Live audience every night before the show, and I hear opinions every night. I feel like a walking focus group that I’m listening to, just based on what’s coming at me all day long.”
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