Only in Jersey: 3/15/12

Happy Ides of March, y’all! Time for another edition of Only in Jersey!

If it’s filming in Jersey, takes place in Jersey, or is about celebs from Jersey, you will find it here.

So, as expected last night, in the wake of revelations that contestant Jermaine Jones had a violent criminal past and several outstanding warrants for his arrest, “American Idol” kicked the Pine Hill native to the curb. During a sit-down with producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick in the episode, Jermaine said he had a reason why he didn’t divulge his run-ins with the law. “I just was scared, nervous,” he revealed. “I didn’t want to get judged, I didn’t want to get penalized for anything that happened in the past.” And while the producers said they would’ve worked with him had he been honest from the get-go, to find out about it after the fact was unacceptable. “We are not allowed to have anybody that has an outstanding warrant against them on the program and you’ve got four of them against you,” Nigel told Jermaine. The segment concluded with a rehearsal clip of Jermaine singing “Somewhere Out There.” It was a sad finish to a promising start. But perhaps Jermaine will find that New Jersey is the “somewhere out there, out where dreams come true.”

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“The Real Housewives of New Jersey”: Danielle’s uncovered past?

What skeletons are Danielle Staub, one of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” hiding in her closet?

Does this look like Danielle Staub to you?/From The Star-Ledger; credit "Cop Without a Badge"

Does this look like Danielle Staub to you?/From The Star-Ledger; credit "Cop Without a Badge"

Is it real or is it Memorex?/Credit Bravo

Is it real or is it Memorex?/Credit Bravo

How about a past as a stripper and a criminal who received five years probation for extortion?

Those are among the allegations asserted in “Cop Without a Badge,” a now-infamous (thanks to the show) out-of-print book. According to New Jersey’s own Star-Ledger (you know, the one Tony Soprano picked up off his driveway innumerable times), the book tells many stories about a “long-legged brunette stripper” named Beverly Merrill, who supposedly boasted of having bedded about a thousand men (just call her the female equivalent of Gene Simmons) before she met and married felon-turned-informant Kevin Maher, about whom the book is written.

In addition to such juicy details as Beverly’s – err, Danielle’s – aversion to underwear and that she met Maher at a drug party in Miami, we learn that she was allegedly out on $10,000 bail at the time. Evidently Beverly/Danielle was hanging with a drug dealer who had kidnapped a rich kid who owed him beau-coup bucks.

“The dealer beat the kid up, starved him, then called the kid’s father for ransom,” says the Ledger in its retelling of the tale.

Beverly/Danielle and the drug dealer were busted, and Beverly/Danielle was charged with extortion, kidnapping and possession. Her new savior, Maher, helped her work out a deal in which she pleaded guilty to the extortion, for which she received five years probation.

But that’s not all, oh, no. A married Maher left his wife and married Beverly/Danielle (before he technically divorced his wife!). They moved to Elmwood Park, N.J., and tried having a baby (remember, “Real Housewife” Jacqueline Laurita did go to a fertility specialist recommended by Danielle!) before he realized that Beverly/Danielle was “not mother material.” (LOL! Wonder what tipped him off?)

Beverly/Danielle subsequently became a stripper at Satin Dolls (aka The Bada-Bing from “The Sopranos”), and Maher found out she was cheating on him and left her.

You can read the full Ledger story right here – and for more salacious excerpts from the book, go here.

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey”: Welcome to the Garden State!

Wow! Can I just say that I don’t recall ever seeing an initial episode of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” series and immediately thinking, “I have to watch this show!” Until last night, that is.

Clockwise from top left, Dina Manzo, Caroline Manzo, Teresa Giudice, Jacqueline Laurita and Danielle Staub./Bravo

Clockwise from top left, Dina Manzo, Caroline Manzo, Teresa Giudice, Jacqueline Laurita and Danielle Staub./Bravo

Because I’m a born-and-bred Jersey girl (who still resides here), I feel it is my honor-bound duty to share my personal insights – including criticisms – about the show. So let’s get started!

First of all, I was scandalized – completely scandalized – when Dina Manzo’s 12-year-old daughter, Lexi, declared: “If I had like a fat, old mom, I’d hate it.”

Good grief! Dina’s explanation that she and Lexi are more like sisters than mother/daughter explained it all…. I suppose Dina needs all the friends she can get, since her erstwhile husband, Tommy, works 24/7 at his Paterson catering business, The Brownstone (the website of which is curiously not working – maybe because it can’t handle the increased traffic?), along with his brother (and Dina’s sister Caroline’s husband) Al.

Dina admits she’s alone a lot. But she’s got the ever-entertaining Lexi – they *play* tennis together, which apparently consists of Dina whining that she can’t run because her boobs hurt – to keep her company, along with her cat, who is Mr. Bigglesworth’s doppelganger. Her situation being what it is, I’m surprised that Dina acts so witchy toward her sister-in-law, Jacqueline Laurita, who really does seem to want to be friends and keep the peace.

Good luck with all that, Jacqueline.

“Jacqueline’s heart is as big as her bubbies,” Dina declares.

“Bubbies” are “The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s” code word for breasts. I find that amusing, since it seems like all of these women are Italian and I’ve always associated the word with being a Jewish term. But anyway…

Dina’s older sister, Caroline Manzo, is a real piece of work.

“Before I like you, I don’t like you,” she says bluntly. “You don’t just warrant respect, you have to earn it.”

It’s apparent Caroline likes her husband Al very much. Especially when he takes her to Aaron Basha, a jewelry store, and bestows gifts upon her.

“I allow him to spoil me because that’s his pleasure to do so,” explains Caroline, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Carmela Soprano. (Maybe that’s how I’ll refer to her from now on…)

In case you missed her talking about how Al lavishes gifts upon her, Caroline repeats: “My husband spoils the s*** out of me. Bring it on!”

Caroline is setting a fine example for her two sons, one of whom wants to become a lawyer and the other who has aspirations of owning a strip club. Please don’t tell me he’s going to call it the Bada Bing.

While it’s commendable for Teresa Giudice to not have caved in to peer pressure to enlarge her *bubbies*, you know that’s not going to last. The mother of three terribly spoiled children (“My little girls are divas like their mamma”) is already eyeing up surgery, and her husband, Tony Soprano – oops, I mean Joe, who owns a construction company – is wholeheartedly encouraging her to go for a C cup. Which, of course, is after Teresa says, “My husband is more of an a** guy.”

Then there’s Danielle Staub, who is the Samantha (but not in an endearing way) of the bunch. She’s 45 and is looking to move on from her divorce and find a new man to support her and her two daughters. She is still battling with her ex about the divorce settlement and bluntly admits (which I’ve got to admire) that she might lose her home.

“Somebody has to come in and save me and my girls,” she declares. (Somehow I admire her a little less now.)

Danielle was engaged 19 times before she accepted the 20th marriage proposal. No, she didn’t specify whether the proposals were all the same guy or not. Evidently she’s looking for lucky No. 21, which includes trolling the Internet and having phone sex.

“People might find me to be a little much,” she admits.

No, really?

On the plus side, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” is full of personalities that are absolutely worth tuning in to see every week. (The show officially premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 7.) Also,I have never seen the Garden State look more beautiful – and glamorous! – than it did on the show. I hope those viewers who don’t live in NJ and have never been here are impressed. It is not “the armpit of the earth,” as Vegas native Jacqueline said she once believed it was.

On the down side, though, the entire time I watched the show I was thinking of what my coworkers will say. Years ago, I remember them lamenting about how A&E’s “Growing Up Gotti” made them embarrassed to be of Italian descent. I can only imagine what they’d have to say about “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”…

Update: A real-life Jersey girl (that would be me – metiny1 born, bred and still resides) will blog live on Facebook beginning at 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 12, during the premiere of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Come join me and share your thoughts as we meet these five women. Click here or look up my handle,  TV Blogger Ava Gacser, on Facebook. I look forward to seeing you!

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