Kelly Bensimon feels attacked by Leah McSweeney’s lawsuit

What appears to be an attempt to make “The Real Housewives” franchise more harmonious has, perhaps inevitably, produced furious discord among its stars.

Last week, Page Six reported that former “Real Housewives of New York City” star Leah McSweeney had filed a lawsuit against the show’s producers, Bravo, and the network’s figurehead, Andy Cohen.

In court papers, she claimed, among other things, that producers had come to view an episode known as “Scary Island” — in which fellow alum Kelly Bensimon appeared erratic and somewhat out-of-touch with reality — as the gold standard for ratings-grabbing TV.

Kelly Bensimon walks down the street.
A peeved Bensimon tells Page Six that she wants McSweeney to leave her out of her beef with Bravo. kellybensimon/Instagram

McSweeney claimed in the papers that, knowing she was struggling with a substance problem, and had suffered mental health issues, the producers zeroed in on her as a potential successor to Bensimon, and attempted to destabilize her in an attempt to create scenes as wild as the ones in “Scary Island.”

Now, a peeved Bensimon tells Page Six that she wants McSweeney to leave her out of her beef with Bravo.

“I’m not angry,” she told us, “I just like facts. I think people should stick to the facts.”

Bensimon has interpreted the suit as implying that she was under the influence of drugs or going through a mental ill-health episode when the infamous Season 3 scenes were filmed.

She insists she was fine mentally and had only drunk, at most, a little wine with ice in it (her preferred tipple at the time).

She also feels the suit implies that she was, as McSweeney claims to have been, exploited by Bravo or its producers.

“I’m not a victim,” Bensimon told us, “I’m nobody’s victim.”

Leah McSweeney attends the Mythical Games NFT.NYC event.
McSweeney starred in two seasons of “The Real Housewives of New York City” and one season of “Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip.” Getty Images for Mythical Games

The former model, who is now a broker for Douglas Elliman, added, “There’s no way I could be as successful as I am in high-end real estate if I could be made a victim.”

“It was me who branded ‘Scary Island,’” she told us, “I gave it that name.” She also told us that she called “cut” herself during filming when scenes seemed to be going nowhere, and flew home of her own volition when she felt like the shoot was getting to be a little too intense.

Meanwhile, she seems to be offended by the suggestion that it only takes a few tequila shots to make an episode which she calls — with some justification — one of the most iconic moments in reality TV, up there with Jessica Simpson’s infamous “chicken of the sea” flub on “Newlyweds.”

“I’m amazing TV,” Bensimon tells us. “I always enjoyed making the show, plus it meant that I could give my [daughters] something that nobody can take away from them: an unbelievable education.”

Andy Cohen speaks onstage during The Real Housewives of New York.
The network’s figurehead, Andy Cohen, was last week slapped with a lawsuit. Getty Images for Vox Media

She also said that many of her real estate clients are fans from her days on Bravo. She also told us that she wouldn’t change anything about the famous scenes because “they’re part of my trajectory.”

Bensimon recently filmed the spinoff “Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip Legacy,” but says she doesn’t “currently” have anything else in the works with the network.

She told us that McSweeney is “trying to use me to get something for herself.”

The suit quotes Bensimon’s comments about the “Scary Island” trip in the Bravo-approved book about the franchise, “Not All Diamonds and Rosé” by Dave Quinn.

The documents note that Bensimon left the trip “after [producers] told her that she could not.”

Kelly Bensimon attends the Eckhaus Latta fashion show.
“I’m not angry,” Bensimon told us, “I just like facts. I think people should stick to the facts.” Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

“I was filming six days a week, from the very beginning to the very end,” it quotes her as saying in the book, “I filmed all the time, and I thought I was doing great. It was one of my best years.”

“But my agent was like ‘[the producers] are really mad at you and they don’t know whether they’re going to bring you back… I don’t know why all this pressure was on me, but there was a lot of animosity and they told me that they were going to cancel me if I didn’t go on the trip. That’s why I said [on the cast reunion show that aired on Bravo at the end of the season] that I was forced.”

It’s the latest example of “Real Housewives” vociferously picking sides around the suit.

A rep for McSweeney declined to comment. A rep for Bravo has previously said, “A number of claims that were made by Leah McSweeney were previously investigated and [found to be] unsubstantiated.” A rep for Cohen has previous said that the claims against him are untrue.

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