The Reader Interview: Bethenny Frankel

May 31, 2012 at 8:30 am , by

Every month an LHJ reader will get the chance to interview one of their favorite celebrities. This month, super-fan Jeannie Crofts of Chicago quizzes reality star and businesswoman Bethenny Frankel about her new talk show (Bethenny), married life and sky-high heels.

How will your new show stand out?
I like to speak honestly to the audience. The show is about discussing what women talk about when they’re out having cocktails with friends. We’re going to talk about sex, money, religion, family, shopping, and so much more. I’m not a big fan of the teleprompter or cue cards.

What’s it been like working with your producer, Ellen DeGeneres?
Ellen appreciates me for who I am and for how different we are. She knows I’m like a mustang and you just have to let me run! She likes that you never know what’s going to come out of my mouth. I’ve been on almost every talk show there is and I’ve been interviewed by the best, but the god’s honest truth is that no one listens like she does. No one else reacts truthfully and off the cuff like Ellen, and there isn’t anyone on this planet whose stamp of approval means more in this space.

You’re always so great about bringing your personal life and experiences to your shows. Will you be as open with this talk show?
As long as I am committed to being on television connecting to an audience, I will be honest about every area of my life. My fans have inspired me and given me the success that people only dream of. I have a responsibility to them even if it means exposing my personal life and mistakes.

Your life has changed tremendously in a fairly short amount of time. How do you stay so grounded?
I really haven’t changed because I don’t comprehend the success the way others do. I just do what I do every day to the best of my ability. Good enough simply isn’t good enough. I’m also lucky to have such interactive fans. They keep me grounded because they are very much so.

Just like your husband Jason [Hoppy], my husband Mike is a good-looking man who gets a lot of attention from women. How do you deal?
I’m not a jealous person. I don’t even know if Jason gets attention from women—I don’t really see it and he doesn’t tell me. Looks are the least interesting thing about Jason to me, so that isn’t on my radar.

Your shoes are gorgeous. What’s the secret to walking around in such high heels without falling over?
I love them so I just suck it up! What’s funny is that I have a very defined arch in my feet, so wearing flats is more uncomfortable for me at times.

Late Bloomers, Listen Up: She’s Publishing Her First Novel at 60

February 16, 2012 at 10:00 am , by

Meredith Maran (at right) has been a working writer for more than 40 years, turning out ten nonfiction books and scores of magazine articles (including a fair share for Ladies’ Home Journal). But this week marks a brand-new milestone for the brand-new grandmother: the publication of her first novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes. Set in the countercultures of Oberlin College in the 1980s and Berkeley, California in the late ‘90s and onward, this “deliciously messy love story” (to quote from one of the blurbs on the book’s cover) is about a protagonist, Alison, caught in a love triangle with her former (female) lover and her husband—and about the son all three of them come together to raise.

Here, Maran chats about the book with her friend and fellow novelist, Caroline Leavitt (at left), author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller Pictures of You, as well as eight previous novels.

Caroline Leavitt: What sparked the idea for A Theory of Small Earthquakes

Meredith Maran: A decade ago, a friend told me a true story about such an untraditional family, whose existence required so much daily forgiveness on the part of all involved, I thought, “If only I were a novelist, that would make a great plot.”

As I watched the story unfold in real time in my friend’s real life, the itch to write it finally overcame my fear of attempting a novel. After a lifetime of writing only nonfiction, that fear was epic—and, as it turned out, well founded. The novel took two years to write, five years to rewrite, and many gnawed fingernails to sell to a publisher. And it’s been the most thrilling writing experience of my life.

CL: I love the title [a theory of small earthquakes refers to the idea that the occurrence of many earthquakes of lesser intensity offsets the possibility of a single catastrophic one]. Can you talk about it? 

MM: Over the eons it took to bring this book from concept to publication, the novel had at least five working titles, starting with The Surrogate and ending with Boy Girl Boy Girl, which came in a close second. Early on, the phrase “A Theory of Small Earthquakes” came to me in a flash, and I loved it. But there were so many factors to consider, and such a big job the title had to do.

My dad was a true Mad Man—a Madison Avenue ad executive. I grew up naming products at the dinner table, so considering the impact of the title on marketing the book came naturally.

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Aarti’s Party

September 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm , by

After an intense few months of competition, Aarti Sequeria has finally landed her dream job (and mine). She is now the host of her very own show on The Food Network called Aarti Party.  I had the privilege of speaking with Aarti about her whirlwind experience as a competitor, and winner of Next Food Network Star.

What was the first thought that crossed your mind when they announced your name as winner of Next Food Network Star?

I thought “Oh Lord!” I felt gratitude and relief as well as some sadness for my fellow competitors, Tom and Herb, whom I had grown close with over my time on the show.

What is an easy way for people to introduce Indian cuisine into their lives who may be a bit skeptical?

I was intimidated at first as well and I am Indian! I didn’t start off cooking it and the first few times I tried it didn’t come out so well. I try to help people take a step toward bringing authentic flavors into their everyday dishes. For example, the Sloppy Joe recipe is something that is familiar to people and just by adding a few spices you can incorporate Indian flavors into a common dish. I usually get inspiration from what I am craving that day. If I am in the mood for a flank steak I think, “what can I do differently” to inspire something new.

What made you decide to enter The Next Food Network Star competition?

When I applied I had been doing my online show (Aarti Paarti) for 9 months and had picked up a few other jobs online. I realized this was what I wanted to do. All my strengths were built for this type of work. However, I was very intimidated by past episodes and how hard the challenges were, and these people had even more experience than I did!

What was the most difficult challenge on the show?

The Beso challenge with Eva Longoria and Todd English. I was at my wits end and so tired; I didn’t have strength left. I had seen my husband earlier that day and my emotions were all over the place. If I am in a good mood and I cook you can taste it, and unfortunately if I am in a bad mood you can taste it as well.  I wasn’t cooking with joy that day.

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