“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” get real

You want it, you got it: Here’s my quick, in-a-nutshell recounting of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” appearance on Saturday at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair. (And look out -this time I was sitting in the front row and have some great pix of the ladies!)

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You can't really tell here, but Dina Manzo's T-shirt reads "Last year's Versace." Copies of the shirt were also for sale in the theater's lobby. "I can't help myself," Dina said. "I'm a wise a**."/All photos by Ava Gacser

While much of the material covered territory similar to last month’s appearance by Caroline Manzo and Teresa Giudice (along with “Real Housewives of New York City’s” Alex McCord and Jill Zarin) in Englewood, there were a few new tidbits of information.

First of all, although it was never stated outright, I get the distinct impression all five ladies will be back for the second season (slated to premiere on Bravo sometime in 2010 with – get this – about 18 episodes!!!). I know there’s been some question about Dina Manzo’s participation, but based upon things she said – such as “I’m trying to make (Project) Ladybug be part of the show” and “He’s (Dina’s hubby, Tommy) not in Season 2; he won’t be around” – there’s no doubt in my mind she’ll be back.

Dina proved amusing during the approximately two-hour event, joking that seeing herself on television convinced her she needed major plastic surgery.

“I’m getting a nose job, I’m getting lipo,” she laughed.

She also took responsibility for getting the controversial “prostitution whore” herself, Danielle Staub, on the show.

“Ironically, it was my fault,” she admitted.

According to Dina, Danielle had quite the reputation at Chateau, the Franklin Lakes salon several of the women frequent. And because it was the owner of Chateau, Victor, who was the one Bravo originally approached for help in finding women for the series, salon clients were obviously preferred.

“What about that crazy one?” Dina said is how she recalls referring to Danielle. “Why don’t we take her out to dinner and find out if she’s good crazy or bad crazy?”

Dina also set the record straight about her husband, Tommy, who co-owns The Brownstone with Caroline’s hubby, Albert.

“He wants nothing to do with the show,” she said, adding that initially that bothered her but now she’s glad he isn’t involved. “It’s brought us closer” and makes their time together more special. “It’s just the two of us… it’s just like boyfriend/girlfriend time.”

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I couldn't get a clear shot of Caroline because of that ridiculously placed speaker.

Caroline’s popular son, Albie, was in attendance (as was Dina’s daughter Lexi and Jacqueline Laurita’s daughter Ashley), and she revealed Albie now has a girlfriend named – wait for it – Danielle.

“Can you believe the irony?” Caroline added.

And when the subject of “Regis and Kelly’s” recent Halloween episode featuring the pair dressed up as Caroline and Teresa, respectively, Caroline admitted it was funny but said she couldn’t help wondering, “Why do they always pick a man to imitate me?” (*This isn’t the first time: Earlier this summer, another Jersey girl, talk-show host Chelsea Handler, did a spoof on the “Housewives” and a man played Caroline then, too.)

(In case you missed the “Regis and Kelly” spoof, here it is:)
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Unlike last time's form-fitting (and gorgeous) glittery dress, Teresa opted for this flowing shift.

Teresa denied that she carries hundreds of thousands of dollars around in her purse.

“I don’t walk around carrying $120k with me,” she said.

She also confirmed that her upcoming cookbook is called “Skinny Italian” and will feature “great quick Italian recipes.”

One of the funniest moments of the evening came when Teresa started trash-talking “Real Housewife of New York City” Bethenny Frankel. After alleging that Bethenny bad mouths her, Teresa called Bethenny a “b*tch,” “slut” and “big ho.”

“You should’ve gotten married first,” she added, obviously referring to newly engaged Bethenny’s recent announcement that she’s pregnant.

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It was good to see Jacqueline laugh.

Jacqueline gushed about her newborn son, Nicholas, whom she lovingly refers to as “monkey.”

“I hold him all the time,” she said. “He looks nothing like me. He’s my husband all the way.”

Speaking of which, Jacqueline also hinted that fans will see more of her husband (and Dina and Caroline’s brother), Chris, in 2010.

“Next season you might see him a lot more,” she revealed.

Jacqueline also said that she wished last season had shown her family’s relationships in a more positive light.

“It seemed to highlight all of the negative moments with my daughter (Ashley),” she said.

The evening was once again moderated by comedian Geno Bisconte.

“We all have our a**hole moments, and we all have our endearing moments,” summed up Caroline. “…If we ever forget where we came from, kick our a**.”

Here are a few more photos I took that evening:

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This was the best shot I could get of all of the ladies standing but it gives you an idea of how tiny they all are. Moderator Geno Bisconte is in the center.

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Teresa and Caroline.

Sisters-in-law Jacqueline and Dina were peppered with plenty of questions during the event.

Sisters-in-law Jacqueline and Dina were peppered with questions.

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Dina whipped out her leopard-covered Blackberry for some impromptu Twitpics, but for some reason they didn't wind up on her Twitter page (www.twitter.com/dinamanzo).

All of the ladies are on Twitter and/or Facebook. If you need any of those addresses, feel free to drop me a line. Hopefully everyone saw the In Touch Weekly photo spread of Jacqueline, Teresa and the babies. It was really cute! In case you didn’t, the photo below is from the article.

IN-TOUCH-HOUSEBABIES

Proud mothers Teresa and Jacqueline show off their newest additions, Audriana and Nicholas. I love the facial expressions on both babies!/Credit In Touch Weekly

Things I learned watching “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” reunion

I learned several things watching the first part of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” reunion.

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Oh, sorry. That wasn’t the legitimate reunion. But anyway, among the things that I learned:

1) Danielle’s real name is Drama.

It’s obvious to anyone who’s watched the show that Danielle Staub loves attention. Maybe she truly does get upset at the viciousness directed toward her, but it’s not entirely unprovoked. As Us Weekly points out today, Danielle aka Beverly Merrill aka Angela Minelli (Liza’s long-lost sister, I suppose) was arrested back in 1986 by the FBI for her participating in a kidnapping plot that developed out of a cocaine deal that went bad. She met her “boyfriend” at the time while working for an escort service. (Hence Teresa’s “prostitution whore” allegations.) Subsequently, Danielle/Beverly/Angela was charged with an assortment of felonies, including cocaine possession, narcotics conspiracy and extortion. She fared a lot better than her boyfriend, however: While he served 15 years in jail, Danielle/Beverly/Angela received five years’ probation and was ordered into a drug-treatment program.

That is a far cry from the story she told People just a couple weeks back.

“I was never a prostitute. Never,” Danielle said. “I was a pothead. Period.”

A liar, more like. Though I do like Teresa Giudice’s summation of Danielle:

“No, you’re just trying to make drama, Danielle,” she said during last night’s reunion. “Your name should be Drama. You say I’m Dina-ized. You’re Drama-ized.”

2) Teresa still doesn’t understand that throwing the word “gay” around is offensive to gays.

Take it from a gay man – Bravo’s own Andy Cohen – who clearly tired of Teresa’s repeated defense that gay people don’t find her juicy hubby Joe’s repeated use of the phrase “that’s/he’s/she’s gay” offensive.

“I think it was offensive,” Andy said yesterday, seconds after revealing that he himself was gay. “I do and I think a lot of people out there watching thought it was offensive.”

You think Teresa would just apologize and drop it. But no, she had to keep going.

“The night that that show aired we had a gay guy over…and he was cracking up,” she told Andy.” … He’s like, ‘Whoever takes offense to that, they’re stupid. … That’s what he said to me and he’s very gay!”

Yeah, ahum, right, Teresa.

Fabulous nice girls don't go around handling smarmy books like that, Teresa./Bravo

Fabulous nice girls don't go around handling smarmy books like that, Teresa./Bravo

3) Jacqueline is no longer friends with Danielle.

I had a feeling this was going to happen. After all, how long can you stay at odds with your in-laws?  (I have a feeling Kate Gosselin knows.) As if Jacqueline Laurita’s Bravo blog wasn’t enough of a hint, Us Weekly reports that any friendship the pair may once have shared is definitely kaput.

“I am not friends with Danielle,” Jacqueline, a new mother to a baby boy, tells Us. “She has never seen the baby, nor will I ever show her. I learned my family was right about her all along.”

Snap! I wonder when she found that out for sure. Did The Smoking Gun fax Jacqueline a copy of those damning court documents?

4) Dina plays fast and loose with facts.

I suppose we’ll never truly know if Dina Manzo actually ever *laid her hands on* “Cop Without a Badge” or whether her sister Caroline was just covering for her.  But when she chided Danielle for allowing her daughters to witness the heated confrontation about the tome, it took on a “people who live in glass houses” kind of tone.

“The content of the book itself is inappropriate,” Dina said during the reunion. (Ever notice how Dina frequently looks like she’s looking down her nose at people?) “I don’t talk to my daughter about prostitution or kidnapping.”

Well, yes, actually, Dina did. Right before Lexi left for Cyprus to visit her dad (and Dina’s ex-hubby), she regaled (or terrified, take your pick) her with tales of  vacationing American children being kidnapped and held for ransom by nasty foreigners.

And while Dina may not have discussed the oldest profession with her impressionable (and smart-mouthed) 13-year-old, she has no compunction about using the word t*ts to describe her daughter’s blossoming bosom. Classy.

5) Dina has an imaginary husband.

Apparently a lot of “Real Housewives” viewers have been wondering where Tommy Manzo has been hiding out. In last night’s reunion, Dina revealed that he didn’t want to be part of the show. Perhaps the reason why he didn’t want to be part of the show is because the last time he was featured on a reality show – VH1’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding” – he didn’t come across too well (i.e. he acknowledged cheating on his future wife while they were dating… more than once).

When Andy Cohen asked Dina about Tommy, she said, ” He doesn’t really exist. No, he’s working all the time and we have very [little] time together. We have breakfast every morning together and we have date night every Thursday . . . We have the whole night to be boyfriend and girlfriend, so that’s our special time and we didn’t feel we needed cameras in our face.”

Wow, what a marriage this must be. No wonder Dina looks annoyed most of the time. Sure, she’s married to a richer-than-rich guy with a strong work ethic, but he’s barely ever home.  Given his admittedly poor track record in the fidelity department, how many times has she sat at home wondering where he is and who he’s with?

Don’t get me wrong. Date nights are a great idea. But if that’s all you ever have – and your husband recuses himself from any of the day-to-day realities of marriage – then you haven’t got much of a relationship.

Fortunately Danielle's daughters - Jillian, left, and Christine - seem to have more sense than their mother./Bravo

Fortunately Danielle's daughters - Jillian, left, and Christine - seem to have more sense than their mother./Bravo

6) Danielle is not who she portrays herself to be.

I was shocked (SHOCKED!) at the end of “The Last Supper” supplemental edition in which Danielle and her two daughters were shown waiting for their car in front of Lu Nello. It was like looking at a totally different person. Danielle was smoking and still raging about the incident and the injustice done to her by Dina. After seeing this scene, I began to wonder if this was actually the real Danielle.

Caroline confirmed my suspicions to People this week:  “The true Danielle is in those very last moments of that footage [from the final episode]. That is the true unfiltered Danielle, with that cigarette. And who is her audience? Her children. Making pizza and climbing a rock wall don’t make you a great parent. Her children are well-behaved, well-mannered and they excel in school. But if you look at her children, they have a haunted look in their eyes. These children are paying the price for her irresponsibility.”

What struck you most about “The Real Housewives” reunion? I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping part 2 – which airs tomorrow (that’s Thursday) at 9 p.m. – is a darn sight more entertaining.

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey”: Dina shows us how the other half lives

Just in case all of you “Real Housewives of New Jersey” fans didn’t notice, Dina Manzo is rich. And I mean R-I-C-H.

Apparently VH1 doesn’t think Bravo is making that point abundantly clear, because it dug out this gem: “My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding,” which documents all of Dina’s outlandishly expensive plans for her dream wedding (which is No. 2, I believe) to current husband, workaholic and cheater (by his own admission) Tommy Manzo. Take a look:

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After watching this, I better understand Dina (who I was starting to intensely dislike this week after seeing how mean she was to Beverly/Danielle at the Botox party). She’s sad, unhappy and probably miserable that she’s married to this man who (on the plus side) makes all this money but whom she rarely ever sees and who doesn’t seem particularly affectionate toward her. And for that, I’m truly sorry, Dina.

You can also watch Dina and Tommy’s casting tape for the show here.

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey”: Take one

Well, you’ve seen it and I’ve seen it. “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” are no longer a mystery to us. So what did you think? Do you find them more down-to-earth and relatable than Orange County, Atlanta or New York City? Or are they just as deluded?

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As you may know, I blogged/tweeted live during the show’s premiere. Here’s what I thought – and remember, this is coming from a genuine Jersey girl (read: not rich).

On seeing Teresa’s high school yearbook picture: Oh boy, I’m having serious flashbacks. I knew girls in school who had hair just like that. Not me, of course.

On learning Teresa’s hubby Joe is more of an “a** guy”: TMI!

On hearing Teresa say her hubby is “delicious and juicy”: Really? This guy here?

On seeing Joe crack himself up when telling an employee to lock up the business safe because Teresa is there: Tackety-tack-tack.

On Teresa swearing that she could “run around naked” on her new property and nobody would know: Take that, New York City!

On seeing Teresa dole out over $120,360 in cash: Wow. I’m speechless. I’ve never seen $5,000 in cash, much less $120,000.

On hearing Teresa say living in anything other than a brand-new home is “gross”: You’re kidding. You did grow up in Paterson, right?

On hearing Dina utter “bubbies” for the first time: Sigh. I know this is going to get old, quick.

On seeing Jacqueline admitting she used to think that New Jersey was “the armpit of the earth:” Thanks for the shout out, Jacqueline. Sincerely, The Armpit of the Earth

On hearing Jacqueline say all anyone in Jersey talks about is their cars and their money: Wow, I really need to get out more. But I can’t, because I’m too busy working to afford the (Honda) car.

On seeing Jacqueline’s 17-year-old daughter Ashley compliment her mom by saying, “I like that she’s a young mom. She’s like the mom from ‘Mean Girls:'”  What a compliment!

On witnessing Danielle say that “People might find me to be a little too much”: I can see that, especially if you tell them that right away.

On watching Danielle boast about her former career working for the Ford modeling agency: What-evah! (In an article this week, The New York Post disputes that claim and says Ford has no record of Danielle ever modeling for it.)

On hearing Danielle brag about meeting celebs, being engaged 20 times and getting a black Amex card before Madonna: Yawn, yawn and yawn.

On Danielle swearing that her daughters, 10 and 14 are “my best friends. They’re my girlfriends”: One word – disturbing.

On learning that Jacqueline was subjected to nude photos of Danielle within a half-hour of meeting her: OMG! You mean you don’t show everyone you meet nude pictures of yourself?

On Caroline saying she hopes her son’s business venture will be a “respectful strip club”: What is Caroline’s definition of “respectful”? The mind boggles.

On Dina’s daughter Lexi being such a diva:  Dina, honey, you better nip her in the bud, right now!

On seeing Teresa’s little girl (how old is she – 5?) yelling “Fabulous” as Teresa takes her photo: Scary! Oh, no, Teresa’s definitely not a stage mom. Paging “Toddlers &Tiaras”!

The restaurant that Teresa and Jacqueline follow Danielle to on her stood-up date with Gucci Model is Lua in Hoboken, which overlooks the Manhattan skyline. Pretty!

On hearing Danielle tell off Gucci Model in a voicemail – “Have a good life – or die. I don’t care”: Greatest line EVER.

On seeing Dina deliberately park in a handicapped spot: Oh no she didn’t!

That’s Chateau Salon in Franklin Lakes.

So what did everyone think of the show?

“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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