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Andy Cohen is always so open and honest, I think that is why Watch What Happens Live! works so well. But the Real Housewives head honcho has not always been so forthcoming with casting scoop, I assume to keep things secret to boost ratings.

So it was a total surprise when it was announced long before the season airs that former fan favorite, Bethenny Frankel, would be returning for season 7 of the Real Housewives of New York. So just how long had Bethenny’s return been in the works?

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“The thing transpired in her kitchen,” he says of their early conversations. “I went over there to convince her to come back to the show. She had different ideas about things she wanted to do. I kind of said I don’t think that those are good ideas. I have a good idea! I brought it up and she said OK I’m listening. I told her all my reasons. I could tell that she was seriously going to think about it. We had a very long talk about it. And then she said I’m in. We had a deal. This all happened in late-June, I think, or July. The idea that we’ve been able to keep it a secret for as long as we did, was great,” he shared in the latest edition of Ask Andy.

How does he think that Bethenny will fit in with the current Housewives? “I don’t know,” he admits. “I think the Heather-Carole [friendship] is a coin toss. I think she and LuAnn weirdly will get along. I think the rest are up for grabs.”

Since Bethenny’s return was announced, there have also been rumors about her former frenemy, Jill Zarin, returning as well. “There’s a story in my book [the Andy Cohen Diaries] where I talk about—and no one knows this either—that there was a plan for Jill to come back last season, for one scene,” Andy says. “It was my fantasy. And it didn’t work out. It was at the very last minute that it didn’t work out.” But don’t expect her to come back for Season 7: “I think there would be a cast mutiny.”

I don’t know about the cast—but there would be one viewer mutiny if Jill Zarin returned—me!

TELL US! ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT THEY COULD KEEP BETHENNY’S RETURN A SECRET FOR AS LONG AS THEY DID?

 [photo courtesy: Andy Cohen and Bethenny Frankel]

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