'The Real Housewives of New York City' OG reacts to Bravo bringing the series back as two shows.
Luann de Lesseps isn't handing in her apple just yet -- at least not by choice.
The Real Housewives of New York City OG says she has no idea where tabloid reports claiming she wasn't interested in returning to RHONY (for its just-announced spinoff series featuring legacy cast members) came from, because they're not true.
"It couldn't be further from the truth," she proclaims. "Listen, I love the OGs. I love the girls. So why wouldn't I want to the show?"
"And that's if they asked me back," she adds. "So who knows who they're bringing back, but I definitely would do the show if they asked me back for sure."
Late last month, Bravo announced The Real Housewives of New York City would return as two shows: one a complete reboot of the flagship series with a (seemingly) all-new cast, the other a spinoff focused on fan-favorite 'Wives from over the years. The move is seemingly the network's answer to a lackluster outing for RHONY in its 13th season, which aired its finale in September. The season ended with a thud, the first of Bravo's Housewives to not film a set of reunion episodes with the women. That decision came after ratings faltered over the course of the season, as fan backlash surged week after week over everything from "problematic" cast members to concerns over conversations regarding COVID, racism and more.
"I was as surprised as anybody else," Luann admits. "I did not see that one coming. It really came out of left field for me. But after talking to production and [Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen], I thought, it's a great idea because look, I think the success of the Ultimate Girls Trip weighed in on that."
After filming season 13 of RHONY, Luann and her fellow apple-holder Ramona Singer filmed The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip -- the first-ever mash-up/crossover series in the Real Housewives universe, which saw women from across the franchise come together for a one-of-a-kind vacation that broke down the fourth wall to share stories behind the shows.
"I think it was so successful that people want to see the OGs," Luann surmises. "They want to see the girls that have been around, that know each other, that have real friendships, that are organic and are real. And I feel like when you try to mix people with new people that don't really fit into their lives, it doesn't make sense."
It seems Luann is referencing the addition of younger women to the RHONY cast over the past couple of seasons, specifically Leah McSweeney in season 12 and Eboni K. Williams in season 13. Neither 'Wife had an organic connection to anyone on the cast; the lack of history coupled with lack of common interests and lived experience contributed to some awkward moments for the ensemble.
"I'm thrilled to be able to film with all of my old girlfriends," Luann continues. "I mean, what better for me than to be surrounded by all my old girlfriends? So I'm happy about it. I think that them doing another cast, a multicultural cast, I think is cool. And I think it's a different look at New York and t's see what happens. The proof will be in the pudding."
A common criticism over the course of RHONY's run is that it didn't properly represent New York City, seeing as for most of its seasons, the cast was comprised of white women inhabiting the Upper East Side. Bravo's made it known that a goal of the next iteration is to right that so-called wrong. With casting underway to find the next generation of Housewives, Luann offers some advice to the reality stars of the future.
"For me, being authentic is the most important thing," she offers. "Just being who you are. I think people try to overshoot who they are and I think the camera doesn't lie. So I think just being honest, being yourself, and being fabulous is all that you need to know."
As for who will appear on the spinoff, tentatively titled RHONY: Throwback, Luann wants Jill Zarin, Kelly Bensimon and Dorinda Medley by her side. She'd also take Ramona, even though she's proven to be the most controversial cast member in the audience's eyes as of late.
"Listen, Ramona's been around since the beginning," she notes. "Ramona is the person that we love to love, and we love to hate sometimes, but I think that's important. You always have to have those people as part of the cast. She's always shaking it up. She's always doing something to put her foot in the mouth, and that's what we love about her -- and in the end, Ramona has a heart of gold and I think that she should stay along."
Along with those reports that Luann was not interested in returning to RHONY were mentions of a potential deal for a show of her own on E!, Bravo's sister network. When pressed on those claims by Housewives alumni Teddi Mellencamp and Tamra Judge on their podcast, Two Ts in a Pod, Luann played coy by simply saying, "I cannot confirm." While Luann's still staying mum on the reported deal, she does admit her dream TV project outside of Housewives is a talk show.
"I love ensemble cast stuff," she teases. "So, I would love to do talk. ... How fun would it be to have a bunch of Housewives talking? ... Talking about topics that are important to women who are our demographic, our age, and talking about all kinds of topics that only Housewives can talk about!"
Over the course of her Housewives run, Luann's learned how to open up and "go there" when it comes to sharing. While she spent her early seasons attempting to protect her curated "Countess" image, she's freed up over the years and let the audience experience the highs and lows of her life right alongside her. Luann's relationship with alcohol is a bit of a through-line in her story, ever since a headline-making arrest in Palm Beach, Florida, back in December 2017. The legal encounter set Luann on a journey through sobriety, with stints on and off the wagon. She recently had a "slip-up," as she calls it, taking over the microphone at a bar after a night of drinking champagne.
"It's tough enough, taking it day by day and dealing with sobriety without having the whole world watching," Luann says. "But what people don't understand is that, I've had a good run the last couple of years. I mean, I did Ultimate Girls Trip sober. I did the last season of the Housewives sober. So, there's been a lot of sober time for me -- and even during the pandemic, I was not drinking when most people were drinking way too much. So, sure, I slipped. I own it, and it's part of my journey, and it's progress, not perfection. And that's what I talk about. My ultimate goal is to not drink."
"At this point, it's like, this happened to me and it was another wake-up call," she adds. "It's a teaching moment, and it's about learning from the things that we do and growing from them. And so I kind of look at it -- and I know it sounds crazy -- as a gift in a certain way, because it got me to stop dead in my tracks."
Luann says having eyes on her everywhere holds her accountable to an extent. "I am human and as a human, I fall off the wagon," she says. "And so I'm happy to say that I'm back on and I'm really a happier Lu when I'm not a drinking Lu."
That "happier Lu" is focused on her all-new cabaret show, the latest in her string of live stage shows, which she first launched during season 10 of RHONY. This time, Luann's hitting the road solo -- no special guests, just Lu.
"It's been a long [filming] break for us and I've been enjoying a lot of downtime, but I'm getting ready now for my cabaret show," she shares. "So that's keeping me busy and I work really hard at it."
"I'm just excited to to spread the joy, and spread the new song ['F Bombs on the G'] around and talk about what's been going on in my life," she adds. "And it's kind of like you're in my living room, and you're there for dinner, and you're going to hear some stories. You're going to hear some music, and you're going to hear some jokes."
While this leg of her tour is just kicking off, Luann isn't shutting down the idea of joining forces with her RHONY co-star, Sonja Morgan, who's launched her own comedy tour.
"Oh my God!" she exclaims at the mention of the idea. "Well, I can't see why that wouldn't happen because Sonja and I make a great duo. Sure, why not? Maybe some day in the future."
For now, she's collaborating (kind of) with a different castmate, Dorinda. The two are part of Fanaply and photographer Ezequiel De La Rosa's "Oh Marilyn" NFT collection.
"You know what? I didn't really know she was doing it!" Luann lets slip. "I know that I did mine first, I think she did one after me. So I didn't know she was already on the NFT list, but I'm so glad she is because it's great to have Dorinda's part in this project and it's all for women. So it's fantastic."
The project sees stars, including Luann and Dorinda, transform into the iconic Marilyn Monroe for a series of one-of-a-kind NFTs in honor of Women's History Month. The auction for the pieces -- including brand new artwork, physical prints and even an opportunity for fans to meet their favorite Housewife via Zoom -- all benefit the nonprofit women’s organization, The Helping Angels. Fans can gain access to and bid on the NFTs and experiences here.
"Ezequiel is a really good friend of mine, the photographer," Luann gushes. "He's taken many beautiful images of me and photo shoots we've had together and he called me and he said, 'Would you like to do an NFT?' And I was like, 'Well, I've never done one before. It's my very first.' And he said, 'I'm doing a whole thing on Marilyn Monroe and how everybody's got their inner Marilyn, and it's for a great cause!' So, I was like, I can totally vibe with an inner Marilyn! I've got her in here somewhere."
"It's like, 'Make me into Marilyn Monroe?' I'm not going to say no!" she adds. "It was awesome to be in the studio."