"I know what the truth is": Andy Cohen on the many "Real Housewives" lawsuits and critiques

The Bravo producer and host addressed claims about messing with one star's sobriety and low reality show pay

By Nardos Haile

Staff Writer

Published May 8, 2024 4:56PM (EDT)

Andy Cohen attends the 2024 Costume Institute Benefit for "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2024 in New York City. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Andy Cohen attends the 2024 Costume Institute Benefit for "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2024 in New York City. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

The Bravo reckoning is finally being addressed by Andy Cohen, the face of the "Real Housewives" franchise, Bravo itself and longtime host of "Watch What Happens Live."

In a profile for the Hollywood Reporter, the Bravo producer and host said, "Obviously, it’s no fun to be a target. So, yes, it’s hurtful." Cohen and Bravo have been mired in sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, allegations of drug use on set and questions about pay and exploitative labor tactics that have darkly clouded the network and its popular "Housewives" franchise.

Earlier this year, former "Housewives" alum Caroline Manzo sued Bravo, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Peacock for claims that a fellow castmate, Brandi Glanville, sexually harassed Manzo. According to Deadline, the lawsuit also claimed that Bravo & Co. "allowed, condoned and even encouraged" Glanville's "sexually aggressive and offensive conduct on others on the sets" while "ply[ing] Glanville with copious amounts of alcohol so that she would act outrageous."

This hasn't been the only lawsuit leveled against Bravo this year. Former "Real Housewives of New York" cast member Leah McSweeney is suing Cohen and Bravo for discrimination and retaliation because, as she claims, she is "a woman with disabilities, such as alcohol use disorder and various mental health disorders, all in the name of selling drama,” The New York Times reported. Last year in a bombshell piece by Vanity Fair, McSweeney alleged that producers would hide liquor bottles on the set to sabotage her sobriety.

McSweeney has also accused Cohen of doing cocaine with other Housewives cast members. Cohen’s attorney denied the allegations, saying the complaint was “littered with false, offensive, and defamatory statements.”

In the profile, Cohen said while he couldn't address all the allegations, "What I’ll say about the alcohol is that we have so many sober people and people who have gotten sober on the show. We have people who’ve never had a drink during the entire run of the show," listing cast members like Luann de Lesseps, Jill Zarin and Kandi Burris.

"So sure, there are people who drink. There are many people who never drink. We don’t force anyone to do anything. But no one is secretly hiding liquor bottles on set. That’s ridiculous. We’ve been very supportive of people’s sobriety," he clarified.

Additionally, outside of the lawsuits, Bravo has been at the center of union organizing efforts from ex-"Housewives" personality Bethenny Frankel. Since the dual Hollywood labor strikes last year, Frankel has been pushing for reality TV stars to bring forth their own set of labor terms including fair compensation. Frankel told Salon last July that she made just $7,250 for the first season of "RHONY." 

Cohen, who used to be close friends with Frankel, said that his take as an independent producer is that reality stars should not be treated like actors because "Reality stars typically have other jobs. They’re bar owners, they’re designers. They’re doctors."

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"I think the way that Bravo pays people is that it’s a buyout — they’re buying them out for a show that can be distributed in certain ways, and the longer you stay on, the higher your salary gets. And salaries for people who have been on a long time are really high," he concluded.

When asked about the criticism from former friends like Frankel, Cohen said, "Obviously, it’s no fun to be a target. So, yes, it’s hurtful." 

However, the long-time host has "no regrets about the way I’ve handled anything. I think everything that happens in your life informs the next thing that happens in your life. That’s the way I look at all this."

"I know what the truth is and I know how I’ve conducted myself, and I walk tall every day on that," he said.

By Nardos Haile

Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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Aggregate Andy Cohen Bethenny Frankel Bravo Labor Lawsuits Sexual Harassment The Real Housewives