Prosecutors Ask Bravo to Hand Over Unaired Footage from RHONJ for Proof of Inappropriate Spending by the Giudices
The New York Daily News reported on August 18, 2013 that the feds have asked Bravo to hand over hours of unaired footage from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” for proof on tape of inappropriate spending by the Giudices.
When the Giudices’ shaky finances came to light in June 2010, viewers had already watched a season and a half of Teresa “throwing extravagant parties and spending money wildly.” (During season 1, she was shown plunking down $120,360 in cash for furniture.)
In June 2009, Andy Cohen told ABC’s Nightline that the Housewives series was “a study in affluent human interplay and sociology of the affluent,” and he “makes no apologies for the conspicuous, often-crass spending habits the women display.” Cohen added:
“We’re putting it out there to reflect a certain slice of life in certain cities. It is for you to decide whether this is fun, offensive, hilarious, aspirational or what. We leave it to you. There’s no judgment. We love our housewives, I love them. They’re all our children. I love them. … All my crazy little girls.”
Teresa told The Bergen Record in early May 2009, shortly before the show debuted, it took her 10 to 11 months to sign onto the show because she was concerned that her “whole life” would be put out there, but what was great about the show was that “my whole life’s not out there… what I wanted them to know, they knew”:
“It took me 10 to 11 months to sign. … You couldn’t know how they’re going to portray you, and do you really want your whole life out there? But you know what’s great about it? My whole life’s not out there. … What I wanted them to know, they knew.”
In June 2010, eight months after the Giudices filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection (listing nearly $11 million in debt), a Bravo representative said the network “had no idea about any of that.”
However, in his 2012 book “Most Talkative,” Andy Cohen wrote that before they signed on, the five original RHONJ cast members “had many questions about the process and ramifications, questions unlike any we’d heard in the past.” For instance: “Has anyone been audited as a result of this show? Or wiretapped?’” And Cohen confirmed that Teresa wrestled with whether to sign her contract:
She “dropped out of and then back into the show multiple times before we even started shooting,” he wrote. “We never got a straight answer about why she kept changing her mind, and at some point I just stopped asking.”
After the Giudices were indicted for money fraud on July 31, 2013, Virginia Rohan of The Bergen Record wrote:
“How well does Bravo vet its ‘Housewives’ stars, who are promoted as being rich and fabulous? And should network executives be held accountable if they knowingly portray their stars as something they are not, then reward them with the kind of money they claimed to already have?”
For the past three seasons of RHONJ, viewers have watched cast members sell out each other and their family members for a slice of the Bravo pie, and their slices are a mere pittance compared to other networks. To supplement their Bravo salaries, the Housewives hit the streets to pimp products or hawk their wares on the show. Actors don’t have to do this, so why should reality TV stars? Real TV stars would not work for the pittance that Bravo pays their “talent.”
It’s one thing to have an established business when you sign up for a reality TV show, and then to use the show to help promote your business. But it’s a totally different scenario when infomercials are featured throughout a reality TV show to foist products onto the viewers. And why should viewers have to support the cast by buying their products – we support the network by watching the shows, which drives up ratings and brings in advertising dollars, which Bravo should use to fairly compensate the cast instead of expecting the viewers to spend our cash on their products (with a percentage of the sales going to Bravo) so that they can continue to live the high life.
Andy Cohen “throws out a grenade, lets it go, and says, ‘OK, ladies’,” and then laughs all the way to the bank at “all his crazy little girls,” for sure!
In what has become a tradition after each season ends, Cohen “refereed” a reunion of the feuding New Jersey housewives. It lasted six exhausting hours. “I threw out a grenade, let it go, and said, ‘OK, ladies,’ and it exploded multiple times. I had shrapnel. I went home, drank a bottle of wine and watched ‘Schindler’s List’ to relax.” – Andy Cohen, June 8, 2009, ABC Nightline
The following are the full articles referenced and quoted above.
Prosecutors in Teresa and Joe Giudice case want unaired ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ footage as evidence
By New York Daily News
August 18, 2013
Bravo’s not just airing a series featuring Teresa and Joe Giudice — now the network’s being dragged into their legal drama.
Hours after entering a not-guilty plea Thursday on fraud charges before a crowded courtroom in Newark, Teresa, seeming not to have a care in the world, greeted camera crews and hundreds of fans who lined up at the Porsche Boutique in Wayne, N.J.
Behind the scenes, prosecutors have asked Bravo to hand over hours of unaired footage from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” a network source tells Confidenti@l.
“For every hour that airs, there are more than 20 hours of unedited footage,” the source tells us. “They shoot for three months and end up using only the footage that fits into the story line they want to focus on.”
In the past, the network has put together “lost footage” episodes, but generally most of the unused material is stored away and never seen again, according to our source.
Since the Giudices have been accused of 39 counts of fraud, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud, the footage has been requested to see if there is any proof on tape of inappropriate spending.
“The network is not happy,” says our source. “Everyone is asking if ‘Housewives’ ruined Teresa. The real question is, will Teresa ruin ‘Housewives’?”
A second source tells us that since the charges were filed against the Giudices, there has been barely a bump in the show’s ratings.
U.S. District Judge Esther Salas has set a trial date of Oct. 8 in the case. Teresa’s attorney Henry Klingeman, who claimed his client was being targeted for her “celebrity,” said she is focused on what’s important in her life.
“She’s concerned, but she’s taking care of business, taking care of her children, getting ready for school,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll have a really strong defense. I’m confident in her.”
The federal prosecution of the Jersey duo could not only derail their reality-TV career, it could send them to prison for years. The couple is charged with conspiring to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in mortgages and loans that they used to give the appearance of living the high life. They’re also being accused of hiding income and failing to list assets in a bankruptcy filing in 2009.
In addition, Joe Giudice allegedly did not file tax returns from 2004 to 2008.
‘Real Housewives’: Sociology of the Affluent
By ABC Nightline
June 8, 2009
In what has become a tradition after each season ends, Cohen “refereed” a reunion of the feuding New Jersey housewives. It lasted six exhausting hours.
“I threw out a grenade, let it go, and said, ‘OK, ladies,'” Cohen says. “And it exploded multiple times. I had shrapnel. I went home, drank a bottle of wine and watched “Schindler’s List” to relax.”
But why would anyone want to watch hours of bickering, back-stabbing and social climbing?
“I love sociology,” Cohen says. “I love the way people relate to each other. This is a study in affluent human interplay, and the manners and etiquette and social mores of a certain set of people. If anyone feels guilty watching, that’s a way to justify it. It is sociology of the affluent.”
Cohen makes no apologies for the conspicuous, often-crass spending habits the women display, even as the rest of the country reels from an economic meltdown.
“Look,” he says, “we’re putting it out there to reflect a certain slice of life in certain cities. It is for you to decide whether this is fun, offensive, hilarious, aspirational or what. We leave it to you. There’s no judgment. We love our housewives, I love them. They’re all our children. I love them. … All my crazy little girls.”
The producers have learned how to take that “crazy” nouveau-riche behavior and turn it into reality TV gold.
“We call it kind of the Bravo wink,” Cohen says. “It’s a cutaway, it’s a reaction to what someone’s saying. … It’s maybe someone saying something and then you see them doing something maybe a little different from what they’re saying. But it’s a definite editorial point of view that also makes it OK to watch the show, because we’re all in on it together.”
Like when New Jersey housewife Giudice proclaims she’s not a stage mom, and a second later is seen mouthing lyrics as she coaches her young daughter at a recital.
‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ stars’ hidden lives go public
By Virginia Rohan, The Bergen Record (NorthJersey.com)
July 31, 2013
Teresa Giudice dragged her heels about signing the contract that made her one of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Today, that seems telling.
“It took me 10 to 11 months to sign. … You couldn’t know how they’re going to portray you, and do you really want your whole life out there?” Teresa told The Record in early May 2009, shortly before the show debuted, adding something that now seems ironic. “But you know what’s great about it? My whole life’s not out there. … What I wanted them to know, they knew.”
Now the world has learned a lot more about Teresa and husband Joe Giudice than they surely ever wanted outsiders to know. The Montville couple were indicted on charges they conspired to defraud banks and other lenders in connection with nearly $4 million in mortgages, construction loans and home equity loans they received between 2001 and 2008. And the pair find themselves living in two different realities: one of wealth and privilege that viewers see on television on Sunday nights, and one of scary possibilities that began to unfold Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Newark.
In the couple’s initial court appearance on a 39-count indictment, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Walder set bail at $500,000 each and ordered them to surrender their passports.
In the weeks and months to come, the Giudices will be forced to relive yet another reality — the one that existed before “Housewives” came on the air. And this reality raises some serious questions for Bravo, the network that airs “RHONJ.”
How well does Bravo vet its “Housewives” stars, who are promoted as being rich and fabulous? And should network executives be held accountable if they knowingly portray their stars as something they are not, then reward them with the kind of money they claimed to already have? The network again offered no comment on the matter on Tuesday.
When the Giudices’ shaky finances came to light in June 2010, eight months after the couple had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, a Bravo representative said the network “had no idea about any of that.”
But maybe Bravo should have known. In his 2012 book “Most Talkative,” Andy Cohen — Bravo’s executive vice president of development and talent as well as an on-air host — wrote that before they signed on, the five original “RHONJ” cast members “had many questions about the process and ramifications, questions unlike any we’d heard in the past. For instance: “Has anyone been audited as a result of this show? Or wiretapped?’”
Did this not raise a red flag?
Cohen confirmed that Teresa wrestled with whether to sign her contract. She “dropped out of and then back into the show multiple times before we even started shooting,” he wrote. “We never got a straight answer about why she kept changing her mind, and at some point I just stopped asking.”
Cohen should not have stopped asking.
Certainly this issue has come up before. Had Bravo more carefully checked the finances of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Taylor Armstrong, the network probably would have discovered that her boast about her husband, Russell Armstrong, being “richer than Texas” was far from true. When Russell was found dead, an apparent suicide in August 2011, Cohen writes in his book, “he’d left a suitcase full of unpaid bills next to his body.”
If his financial reality had been uncovered beforehand, his wife should have been disqualified from doing the show. That might not, ultimately, have prevented the tragedy, but it would have protected Bravo from being blamed by some media outlets for his death.
Isn’t it also the job of the network to protect poseurs who are blinded by the possibility of stardom or, frankly, too dumb to protect themselves? Did the Giudices fully grasp that any past misdeeds might be more likely to come to light simply because they’d gone from everyday people to high-profile “Bravolebrities,” as Cohen likes to call his stars?
“This is one of the big risks of getting on a show that a lot of people don’t understand. You’re under the microscope … in every single way,” said Robert Galinsky, founder of the New York Reality TV School. “So anything you do could be great material for the show, or is potentially something positive or a liability for you in your real life.”
Those who watch “RHONJ” also bear a bit of blame. How many times have we seen the Giudices curse and brawl and say stupid things on camera and thought to ourselves, “How the heck did these crude and clownish people get so rich?” And yet we shake off those nagging questions and keep watching, essentially egging them on to misbehave for our amusement. If we didn’t watch, they wouldn’t remain on the air. In its fifth season, “RHONJ” remains one of Bravo’s top-rated shows.
Cartoon-like as they may seem, the Giudices, who have four young daughters, are real people with real lives — something perhaps even they have lost track of. I wonder if they’ve come to feel they’re in their own little “Truman Show” world, nestled in a protective bubble they think will shield them from the consequences of their actions.
On Sunday night, “RHONJ” fans watched the last of a three-episode arc about a retreat that Teresa and her brother, Joe Gorga, their spouses and some cousins made at a Lake George resort earlier this year in an effort to mend fences. The episode essentially wrapped up a very messy long-running story line with a neat little bow — everyone hugged and agreed that family is more important than the causes behind the feud.
Then on Monday came the jolting news that the Giudices had much more troubling issues to resolve. Some of the charges they face carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison and hefty fines. And Joe Giudice, 43, who we learned this week is an Italian citizen, faces deportation if convicted.
Joe is also charged with failing to file tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008, a period during which he allegedly earned nearly $1 million.
Galinsky said he could think of only one other example that approached this level of seriousness: first “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch, who served time in prison for tax evasion and tax fraud. “Usually, the misbehaviors are more emotional and more relationship-oriented, between people — between spouses and castmates, family.”
By the time it came to light that Teresa and Joe had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing nearly $11 million in debt, viewers had already watched a season and a half of Teresa throwing extravagant parties and spending money wildly. (During Season One, she was shown plunking down $120,360 for furniture. She paid cash, she said nonsensically, because she’d heard “there’s a recession going on.”)
The 2009 bankruptcy filing brought the prospect of an on-site auction of the Giudices’ belongings, which were even listed and pictured on the website of the court-appointed auction house. Ultimately, the sale was called off, but for Teresa the humiliation stung.
At the federal courthouse Tuesday, when a reporter asked about the fact that Joe could be deported if convicted, Joe’s mother reportedly snapped: “None of your [expletive] business. Worry about yourself.”
Sadly, it is our business. It became so when her daughter-in-law overcame her trepidation and signed that Bravo contract. And now the Giudices are finding out that they can’t have it both ways.
Sooner or later, reality and “reality” are bound to collide.
By Saddle_River_NJ, Fame-Whorgas
July 31, 2013
I’ve pretty much had it with Bravo and it’s horrid brand of manufactured reality.
I started watching RHONJ only because it is filmed locally and I got a kick out of seeing that on TV. The drama part is cookie cutter for any of these Bravo shows. I doesn’t matter if it’s Housewives, Princesses or turnips.
Little Miss Cohen took what used to be a legitimate channel for the arts and turned it into a bitchy slap fest of low class trash. Look at any preview for any of the shows. It’s just gutter snipes screeching and fighting. It’s a PG rated cage fight.
Tre and Joe did nothing more or less than many people have done. How many folks out there ever fudged a bit on a credit card application? Anyone ever left off a few bucks made at a garage sale from “other income” on a tax form? How many people out there reading this got a mortgage in the last 10 years or so that was based on “less than accurate” information?
I’m not going play holier than thou with the Guidices. I don’t care what they did or didn’t do. I grew to be fond of the family and felt so bad that they were being treated so poorly by Bravo editors and their fellow cast members. Now I feel absolutely sick. I’ve never gotten emotionally involved with people I watch on TV. I feel so bad for Tre – as if she were actually an acquaintance of mine.
I really can’t watch much more of this show and this entire experience has soured me on the reality TV universe. Give me back my mid-90′s “Nick at Nite” with it’s happy, predictable pablum….