Only in Jersey: 2/16/12

TGI Thursday!  We’re almost there, folks.  And it’s 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.

Whitney Houston: Final farewell to be broadcast online.

Whitney Houston’s private funeral, which is scheduled for Saturday at Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, is expected to be a star-studded event. People reports that Whitney’s costar from “The Bodyguard,” Kevin Costner, will speak at the service, and her godmother, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder will perform. Others anticipated to attend include Whitney’s mentor Clive Davis and Oprah Winfrey, reports TMZ. Newark’s police are already preparing to keep fans and onlookers far, far away: The Star-Ledger says Newark’s finest will lock down streets within six square blocks of the church beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday (the funeral begins at noon). Fans hoping to catch glimpses of those in attendance will have a better chance by staying home, as The Associated Press confirms it will stream the service live online. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is responding to critics who say he should not have ordered the state’s flags fly at half-staff on Saturday in memory of the singer. “I am disturbed by people who believe that because her ultimate demise — and we don’t know what is the cause of her death yet — but because of her history of substance abuse that somehow she’s forfeited the good things that she did in her life,” The Associated Press quotes Christie as saying. “I just reject that on a human level.” Whitney, he added, deserves the honor as a “daughter of New Jersey.” “What I would say to everybody is there but for the grace of God go I,” he said. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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Only in Jersey: 2/1/12

Welcome to the second 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.

Teresa and Joe Giudice

Montville’s Giuseppe aka “Juicy Joe” Giudice of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” pleaded not guilty Monday to using his brother’s documentation to obtain a driver’s license. His attorney, Miles Feinstein, told The Record that the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office offer to cap any prison sentence at 5 years in exchange for a guilty plea was “totally unfair.”  “I believe that because of Joe’s celebrity he is being treated differently,” Feinstein added. Joe is the entrepreneur husband of Teresa Giudice, who will appear on the upcoming season of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” beginning Sunday, Feb. 19.

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“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!)

Dina Manzo small

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.”

Caroline Manzo small

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:)
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Regis and Kelly ARE The Real Housewiv…“, posted with vodpod
Teresa Giudice small

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.

Jacqueline Laurita small

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:

ladies standing small

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.

Dina tweeting small

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

The REAL “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and “New York City”

Just how real are “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and “New York City”? Pretty darn real, judging an appearance last night by four of the ladies – Teresa Giudice and Caroline Manzo from the Garden State, and Jill Zarin and Alex McCord from the Big Apple – in Englewood, N.J.

Jill Zarin, from left, Alex McCord, host Gino Bisconte, Teresa Giudice and Caroline Manzo. Sorry for the crappy picture, but it's the best I could do with my cell phone. If anyone has better images, please email me at ava@avagacser.com. I will gladly give you credit for them.

Jill Zarin, from left, Alex McCord, host Geno Bisconte, Teresa Giudice and Caroline Manzo. Sorry for the crappy picture, but it's the best I could do with my cell phone. If anyone has better images, please email me at ava@avagacser.com. I will gladly give you credit for them.

Teresa appeared self-conscious, although I thought she looked gorgeous in a crystal (Swarovski?) sleeveless dress that shimmered like crazy under Bergen PAC’s lights.

“I don’t think I look good,” she admitted at one point. “I still have a stomach.”

Considering Teresa just had her fourth daughter, Audriana, barely five weeks ago, I thought she looked – dare I say it? – FABULOUS!!!

Clearly, the woman has a skewed vision of reality – and Caroline thought so, too, because this is what she said:

“(Teresa) was complaining she put on a size 6 jeans the day after the baby was born.”

“I’m a size 4,” Teresa explained.

Not surprisingly, Teresa referred to her husband Joe – the owner of  G&G Stucco and Stone in Clifton – as “delicious and juicy,” though a little on the plump side.

“I told him he could lose a few pounds,” she added. “(I said) ‘Hon, we were pregnant together.'”

In additional baby Audriana news, Teresa said her older girls – Gia, 8, Gabriella, 5, and Milania, 3 – love the new addition.

“(Milania) squeezes her so hard and kisses her so much all over,” she said. “They’re being like little mommies.”

Unlike her parents, baby Audriana has blue eyes, and “everybody’s saying she looks just like Gabriella,” said Teresa.

One attendee asked Teresa if Star Magazine was correct in reporting that she paid $25,000 for a 5th birthday party for (I’m guessing) daughter Gabriella. She didn’t answer the question directly and said fans would have to wait until the next season to find out.

     Teresa, far right, revealed that the purple (amethyst?) necklace she wore above at the reunion actually belongs to Caroline, who bought it at Neiman Marcus. "Teresa is a jewelry whore," Caroline added./Credit Bravo

Teresa, far right, revealed that the purple (amethyst?) necklace she wore above at the reunion actually belongs to Caroline, who bought it at Neiman Marcus. "Teresa is a jewelry whore," Caroline added./Credit Bravo

Additional tidbits I learned last night:

*Jill, Alex and Teresa all have books coming out. Jill, who is a spokeswoman for Kodak, has a book called “Secrets of a Jewish Mother” that she co-wrote with her mother and sister; Amazon.com lists it as releasing April 15. Alex’s book, “Little Kids, Big City,” is scheduled for release on March 31. While Teresa offered no details on her book, Amazon lists it as “Skinny Jeans and Spaghetti,” with a release date of May 4.

*There is a feud going on between Teresa and “Real Housewife of New York City” Bethenny Frankel. “I know Bethenny hates me, and I don’t care,” said Teresa. Turning to Alex and Jill, she added, “You guys can relay the message.”

*Teresa purchases her children’s clothing at Stage Left in Franklin Lakes.

*Caroline loves living in New Jersey because “everything is just a blink away.” Jill loves the fact that “there’s no sales tax on clothes” in the Garden State.

*Caroline’s daughter Lauren is a freelance makeup artist. “I went to beauty school, and I wax backs,” Lauren revealed. She still will not go anywhere near chuckies, though. (Lauren’s brother, Albie, was also in attendance and received a lot of female attention.)

*After flipping over the table at Lu Nello in Cedar Grove, Teresa said to Joe, “Hon, leave some money. I broke dishes.”

*Caroline acknowledged that she doesn’t take her wealth for granted. “You never forget where you come from,” she said, explaining that she wore her husband’s shirts when she was pregnant because they couldn’t afford maternity clothes. “Tomorrow it could be all gone; it’s just stuff,” she added.

*While Jill and Alex couldn’t talk specifics about the new season, Jill said “I am so excited to have new blood” on the show.

*Jill spoke briefly about her encounter this summer with “Jon & Kate Plus 8” dad Jon Gosselin. “He was quite charming,” she admitted. She said she had no idea that Jon – who she described as being from “that crazy show with that crazy wife” – was also an invited guest to the same dinner party until she arrived and saw him and Michael Lohan.

*Caroline said she had a gut feeling that she should keep fellow “Housewife” Danielle Staub at a distance, even though she admitted that it was her own sister, Dina Manzo, who came up with the idea of getting Danielle on the show. “Why don’t we get the crazy girl from the salon (to be on the show)?” Teresa recalled Dina saying she told Jacqueline Laurita. “Let’s see how crazy she is.”

*Bravo has not announced when either the third season of “New York City” or the second season of “New Jersey” will return, although both are in production.

*The event was hosted/moderated by comedian Geno Bisconte.

You can get an idea of what last night was like from this video. In the meantime, you have another opportunity to see four of the five New Jersey housewives – Dina, Caroline, Jacqueline and Teresa (no Danielle!) – at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair on Saturday, Nov. 7. Tickets are still available.

“Looking for Josephine”: A thousand times oui!

Yesterday I went “Looking for Josephine,” and I wound up completely – and most pleasantly – surprised by what I found: a brilliantly entertaining musical revue.

Jersey girl Nicolle Rochelle captivates as jazz singer/dancer/actress Josephine Baker in "Looking for Josephine."/Credit New York Times

Jersey girl Nicolle Rochelle captivates as jazz singer/dancer/actress Josephine Baker in "Looking for Josephine."/Credit New York Times

The bonus? It features a star-making turn by Jersey girl Nicolle Rochelle.

The show isn’t so much about the life of singer/dancer/actress Josephine Baker (who, by the way, must be an inspiration for Angelina Jolie: according to a New York Times piece, Baker adopted 12 children of different ethnicities and named them her “Rainbow Tribe”), though. It starts out in 2005 New Orleans, just after Hurricane Katrina has hit. A French producer (a hysterical Michel Dussarrat) arrives in town looking for a young woman to play Josephine in a new show in Paris. He meets Cindy (Nicolle Rochelle), she wows him, wins the role and moves to France. Shortly after the intermission, we’re transported to Paris’ La Revue Nègre of 1925 Paris – and yes, the infamous banana skirt makes an appearance. “J’ai Deux Amours,” “Then I’ll Be Happy,” “Who,” “C’est Lui” and “Ma Tonkinoise” are all performed, and I dare you to not clap or tap your foot during any of them.

At the same time, the show also explores the history and evolution of black music, from Africa to the Caribbean to the United States. It is obvious that writer/director Jérôme Savary, who also appears in the production (and who briefly sung to me and stroked my cheek!), has a deep passion for the subject matter and that makes all the difference.

“Looking for Josephine” is full of fantastic music, dance and a charming cast (which includes an adorable Poodle who almost steals the show). But it is Montclair’s very own Nicolle Rochelle who shines – and considering the company in which she’s keeping here, that’s saying a lot.

If you’re lucky enough to have scored tickets to the show – which plays again next week at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University (yes, you read right: the tickets are only $15 each!)  – you’re indeed in for a great time.

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