Producer Reveals Shocking Behind-the-Scenes Secrets About the Real Housewives of New Jersey (Exclusive Originally Published at FameWhorgas on September 23, 2012)
The following transcript is an interview with a former producer for The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The interview was conducted on September 17, 2012 and was first published at FameWhorgas in four parts starting on September 23, 2012. The interviewer, who exclusively shared this with FameWhorgas, was writing a piece on the reality of reality television and forwarded parts of the interview pertaining to RHONJ for the purpose of reading fan comments to get a different perspective on the transcript. I will not disclose the names of the interviewer and interviewee; however, I can say that I received this directly from the interviewer: this person, the one who conducted the interview, is the cousin of the former producer. My source saw that people were doubting the legitimacy of the interview when it was first published at FameWhorgas on September 23, 2012, so he/she wrote the following explanation:
“I was asked by my country’s main news website to write a piece on the reality of reality television. My cousin worked on RHONJ, so I asked for an interview. The interview was only given because RHONJ does not screen in my country, and I promised anonymity. We also don’t have any Bravo shows on television here. I called my cousin in Washington and spoke for 20 minutes before realizing I would have to watch the RHONJ to understand what was going on and who was who. So I went online and watched every episode and called back a few weeks later. The second interview (which was recorded) was an hour and a half and mentioned numerous shows from TLC and Oxygen, but I have edited it down to the relevant parts, mainly due to privacy for my cousin.”
Q: “So can you tell me about your role on the RHONJ without giving away who you are”?
A: “It’s fine, my contract has finished. I worked on season 3 and 4 of RHONJ as a post production supervisor for 15 episodes.”
Q: “Can you explain why you no longer work with the RHONJ? Does it have anything to do with the rumors that the production team was fired due to a conflict of interest?”
A: “Not true at all, I can’t speak for everyone, um, there are quiet a few of the same team returning for season 5, but I was offered a role on another show and decided to leave for my career; no one was fired for a conflict of interest though.”
Q: “So how ‘real’ is the show? We discussed before (in a private conversation) about the various blog rumours; can you clear anything up?”
A: “Well, if you give me specifics, I can try.”
Caroline Manzo and Teresa Giudice’s Feud
Q: “I’m curious about the Caroline/Teresa feud. Was she really that angry that Teresa wrote those comments in her cookbook?”
A: (laughing) “Oh come on, at the start of the season the production team sits down and gives a general overview of where we want the storyline for the show to go. ALL of the wives are in on this. We discuss popular storylines from the season before, storylines that need tying up, and also ways of threading in new storylines that look organic to the story. Do you really think we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on just following these woman around with no plan? No, the season and the storyline has a basic outline from the first day.”
Q: “So you’re saying there is no feud?”
A: “I’m saying the feud you are being fed is for television only and there are bigger issues there.”
Q: “Then why are we not being told what the bigger drama is? Wouldn’t it be better to show that than manufacturing the drama?”
A: “It’s up to the wives what they choose to put out into the public forum; nothing is forced on them.”
Jacqueline Laurita and Teresa Giudice’s Feud
Q: “What about Jacqueline and Teresa?”
A: “We knew at the end of season 3 that their friendship was ending; the main reason, I was told, for the feud was because Jacqueline was offered several endorsement deals (including a teeth whitener and a real fruit-based alchohol), and Teresa organised deals for herself with similar products which turned off the company wanting to invest in Jax and the Housewives’ name.”
Q: “Well, why was this not mentioned throughout the season? Why are we getting this confusing story that makes Jacqueline look crazy? Why not explain this to the viewers?”
A: “Jacqueline’s ‘character’ wouldn’t have endorsement deals; it didn’t feel right for the character. Jacqueline (the character) is a loving home mother who is trying to raise her children; we couldn’t go from doting housewife to celebrity endorsement maker; it wouldn’t feel organic.”
Dina Manzo Quitting the Show in Season 2
Q: “In season 2 you had a change of cast with Dina Manzo leaving; did she really leave because of Danielle?”
A: “There were legal issues around the filming of Dina’s daughter, and Dina and Danielle had off screen legal issues. Dina threatened to quit the show unless Danielle’s contract for season 2 was shortened; she basically told the producers it was her family on the show or Danielle, but the others didn’t back her, so she quit the show.”
Q: “What about Teresa? Did Teresa threaten to walk too?”
A: “No, none of the other wives did; that is why Dina is so angry at her family; I guess she feels like they chose the show over her.”
Q: “Well they did, so why is she speaking to Teresa then and not the others?”
A: “The others were her family.”
The Addition of the Gorgas to the Show and the Christening in Season 3
Q: “So tell me about the casting of the Gorga family? Did they really send in an audition tape saying they would take down Teresa, mafia style?”
A: “They auditioned, as does everyone. Look, it’s not like just because she is Teresa’s sister-in-law we instantly cast her because we had heard of bad blood between them. Teresa’s brother and Melissa were filmed for a short period and that was edited into a small compilation to see if they were interesting enough to be on television. This happens on every single show. Melissa does say that they will take down Teresa in the video, but in a playful manner. I’m also sure it’s been leaked onto the net, so it wouldn’t be hard to find.”
Q: “What can you tell me about the christening episode that introduces the Gorgas?”
A: “Well, I can say I was actually there that day. It was our first full day filming with a large team; we had been filming previous to that, but they were establishing shots. It was much worse than what was shown: the extended family didn’t want anything on camera, so what you don’t see is family members getting violent with the crew and grabbing their cameras and ripping microphone packs off and throwing them across the room. It was chaos.”
Q: “Why did Joe Gorga react the way he did? He was crazy.”
A: “I’ll just say, first day shooting nerves can make some drink and others take….I’ll leave it at that.”
Editing Problems with Season 4
Q: “What is going on with the editing for this season [season 4]?
A: “Can you elaborate?”
Q: “Well, Melissa saying she was babysitting the Giudice girls so that Teresa could go to the Fabellini launch, and it was all lies because…”
A: “I get what you mean. Listen, it was a real learning curve for everyone on season 4; we screwed up by filming season 4 while season 3 was screening. We went into shooting season 4 right away because we were seeing the Giudice and Gorga relationship on the mend and that was where we wanted our story to end; it was the perfect conclusion to all of the drama at the christening.
Q: “Well, what happened?”
A: “The ladies would be watching an episode of season 3, then have to go and film for season 4; it made things terribly hard for everyone because they couldn’t mention what they were angry about directly, so they would play around with their words. That’s when things got confusing and the editors had to play around with the storylines just to get them to make sense. The best example of this is the confrontation scene with Jacqueline, Teresa and Caroline: it had nothing to do with magazine covers, Danielle on twitter, or lies. It was about the episode [from season 3] that had just screened. But we had to edit it down to make sense to the audience. You have to remember, the television audience is much larger than those talking about the shows on blogs and twitter, so we cater to them first; it’s an entertainment television show first, is what I’m saying.
The Napa Trip in Season 4
Q: “But they all seemed to be getting along in Napa?”
A: “For the cameras, yes.”
Q: “Oh, so the whole Napa trip was a put on?”
A: “They all decided to put the past behind them for the sake of making the trip bearable because they all had to be there, but no one was happy about going on the trip — they all just grinned and bear it.”
Q: “So, do you think Teresa and Melissa were wanting to put the past behind them and be a family at any point in season 3 or 4, or was it all a put on?”
A: “No, I think, at times, they were both wanting to put the past behind them, but when one was ready to, the other wasn’t, so they butted heads a lot.”
The Phone Call Between Joe Giudice and the Mystery Caller in Napa
Q: “Was Joe Giudice talking to a woman on the phone in Napa; did he forget to turn off his mic?”
A: “The call was 100% innocent. He called Teresa a c*** because he didn’t want to be there filming and was taking it out on her. He had a legal mess at home he needed to deal with but was contractually obligated to be there.”
The Season 4 Finale, Strippergate, at the Posche Fashion Show
A: “[edited*****************************] at the Posche fashion show.”
Q: “I actually haven’t seen the episode. I know the basics of what happened, but it hasn’t leaked.”
A: “Well, it hasn’t screened yet but [this interview was conducted on 17/09/2012].
Q: “Sorry, can you just clear up who invited the man who outs Melissa as a stripper?”
A: “Angelo, he was invited by the producers. He doesn’t say she was a stripper, just that she worked for him at a gentlemen’s club. Cat and Caroline [producers Cat Rodriguez and Caroline Self] needed the season to go out with a dramatic ending because they knew without the drama the audience wouldn’t have a hook to go into the reunion, and they were getting pressure from the network. I mean, the reunions are always the highest rated shows of the season anyway. It was after Andy started to have more input in the series once again, after seeing disappointing and confusing early footage, that Cat started getting worried about her job, so she knew she needed to bring the drama.”
Q: “Wait, so the producers invited him because they needed…”
A: “A big drama to lead into the reunion, a hook.”
Q: “But you said earlier that the season is planned, that there is a basic structure and plan; so if there was a plan, wouldn’t they already have a big finale planned? And did everyone know what was going to happen?”
A: “No, the only cast member to know about Angelo before the evening was Teresa and that is because she meets him at the salon. Melissa knew that someone from her past wanted to say hello to her and that was all. The original plan for the finale was that they (the producers) were hoping on Danielle or Kim G to be there: they pretty much begged them to attend the fashion show. The dramatic end for the season was supposed to be Danielle confronting Melissa about getting in contact with her behind Teresa’s back, but Danielle refused to attend. So the next plan was to have Kim G make an appearance and attack Teresa about comments made in the media about her, but she refused as well. Then Jacqueline was asked by the producers to attack Teresa over comments she had made on twitter about her daughter, but Jacqueline refused. All scenarios had Teresa as the sympathetic character.
Q: “So who connected Angelo with the producers of the show?”
A: “That was organised by people who are not part of the cast. You have to remember, there are so many more players in these shows than you see on screen.”
Q: “Did Melissa know she was going to be outed as a dancer?”
A: “No, but she was made aware that someone from her past wanted to say hello and we were to film her reaction to that. Angelo was kept away from the ladies on purpose so that Melissa wouldn’t see him until the right moment, but Angelo actually went and approached the table before his interaction with Melissa and was stopped by security at the table and turned away. Melissa saw him at this point.
Q: “And she didn’t do anything?”
A: [abridged due to privacy of source] “Well, I don’t think she wanted to let on she knew in front of the cameras, but she texted her husband under the table to come to the fashion show and let him know what was going on, and she texted one of the producers who let her in on what was going to happen and who was coming over to say hello. Shortly after that Angelo enters, says hello to Melissa, then says hello to Teresa: that was intentional (his hello to Teresa) to show the other ladies that he had met her before, but that backfires because she plays it off as a friendly hello and he then leaves the scene. It was at this point Teresa realises she is being set up to take the fall for bringing Angelo to the fashion show, so she confronts one of the producers.
Q: “So why didn’t Melissa just deny recognising who Angelo was after he left the table?”
A: “She couldn’t because she suspected Teresa was involved in the storyline somehow, so she knew she couldn’t lie.”
[edited – in regards to the bathroom scene]
A: “Teresa is told by the producer to discuss with Melissa who Angelo says he is, but she refuses to do it until pushed by Melissa. Melissa then makes a call in the bathroom to her husband to tell him about the situation, and he tells her he is on his way. That phone call was faked: he was already aware of the situation from her texts earlier and was actually just next door.”
Q: “Did Melissa know who Angelo was, did she recognise him? And is he who he says he is?”
A: “Yes, she did know who he was; and, yes, he is [who he says he is]. He went through checks before appearing on the show. We don’t just put microphones on anyone and say ‘go nuts’. We checked with the owner of the establishment if Angelo was who he said he was, and if Melissa worked there, as well as numerous other checks.
“The Posche show was advertised as having the cast of RHONJ there, so in that situation you get everyone who wants to be cast show up to try and get noticed by the cameras. It’s a nightmare because the reality of the situation becomes too fake and dramatic as every woman wants to get in on the drama to have her 15 minutes or, even better, get noticed by a producer. We had a lot of that happening this night: suddenly everyone who had ever worked with Melissa happened to be there and so did past friends, old roommates, the list went on and on. Everyone knew she was a dancer and it was no big deal — all of this was edited out.”
Q: “Why did Angelo leave?”
A: “The producers told him to leave because Joe Gorga was texting [name of crew member removed], asking him what the hell was going on and that he was on his way to the fashion show.”
Q: “If the Angelo part was producer influenced, then why does the cast hate each other so much; why was everyone so angry?”
A: “Because of what they were being fed by the producers, who were only trying to up the drama. [Name of producer removed] texted all the wives, except Teresa, and told them why Angelo was there and that Angelo had told Teresa at an earlier time that Melissa was a stripper and he was there to embarrass her. To avoid getting their conversation on camera, the woman all texted each other under the table. [Section removed by source to protect privacy.] The other cast were angry with Teresa for not letting Melissa know what was going to happen, but she was told not to by producers because they wanted a ‘reaction shot’ from Melissa — so either way, Teresa lost out.
Q: “It doesn’t seem normal to not talk to your sister for a year because of such a trivial thing; there must be more to it?”
A: “Of course, I mean you won’t see it [the media blitz, because you (the interviewer) are overseas] but there’s been interviews and leaked stories to the press where they go after each other, attacks on twitter, on each others fans — they have sold each other out for stories — so, yes, there is more too it. But the fact is that Joe thought his sister would rather listen to producers and shut her mouth than make Melissa aware that she was about to be outed as a dancer on television. Also, season 3 was screening and you have to remember they lived one experience, then 8 months down the track they have to relive that moment again, but with everyone’s opinion added to the mix — it’s hard for anyone, let alone a family that already had problems.
Q: “So what are we going to see in the final edit of the finale of RHONJ then?”
A: “Teresa and Kim D will get the blame for Angelo being at the fashion show. Angelo has several conversations with female guests and a conversation with producers that gets edited into one conversation that implicates Teresa and Kim D in setting up Melissa. The truth is, Angelo was just trying to impress these other guests (by saying) that he was part of the show and had filmed with Teresa earlier in the day. They (the producers) got lucky: he outright lies to impress a woman and says to her that he is a vital part of the finale and was asked to be there by the producers; and that audio track is what is heavily edited and used to incriminate Teresa.”
Season 5 Casting Changes
Q: “Cast changes for next season [season 5]?”
A: “With the casting for the next season, that decision is made before the reunion episodes — we try to tie up any loose ends during the reunion to complete the women’s character arc and give the viewers a satisfying conclusion to the character that they have invested in over the series.
Q: “I know you said you’re not part of season 5, but can you tell me anything? I’m curious as to how the show would carry on after so much drama has spilled into the cast’s real lives.”
A: “I’m not involved next season, but I know Jacqueline and Kathy were not made offers [by the time the reunion special was taped], so Jacqueline won’t be back but look for Kathy to return in a limited capacity. Currently three women are under consideration to join the cast.”
A: “[edited*****************************] Caroline was made an offer to return and declined — it is possible she is waiting for a bigger offer ($$) or has something up the pipelines. She had only participated in season 4 so that her children would get exposure for their business ventures. She knew it (being a Real Housewife) would one day end, so she made sure her children had established themselves in their own businesses. I don’t like to have personal feelings about cast, but I do admire her — she had a plan going into season 3, and that was to use this platform to assist in setting up her children financially.”
Q: “So if Caroline’s gone then all the Manzos are gone?”
A: “The network likes the Manzos and they have a large fan base so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Manzo connection for the show is made through Lauren next season.”
Q: “Is Lauren going to be a Housewife next season?”
A: “I know that [name removed] said that the idea was discussed [edited out].
Q: “Was Jacqueline fired for not attending the reunion (season 3)?”
A: “No, the producers didn’t want her there. The morning of the reunion, Jacqueline was threatening to expose Teresa and couldn’t be calmed down. [Names removed] had gone over to talk to her after she sent tweets which revealed plot points of the finale [edited*****************************]. No one was to mention the fashion show, but Jacqueline kept saying she was finished and was going to expose Teresa at the reunion. Chris was worried about Jacqueline’s mental state, as she had not slept all night and been drinking a lot later in the night when all of the cast, minus the Giudices, met after the show for drinks. [Name removed] was more concerned about the reunion but knew it would confuse the large TV audience if Jacqueline was attacking her ‘friend’ (since the viewers were watching season 3). So, at the last minute, the call by the producers was that Jacqueline was not going to attend. The reunion episode was then edited with introducing what had happened at the fashion show to keep all of the twitter and blog fans happy and to tell them, ‘we know you are aware of what is going on, so we are going to mention it and move on’.”
Q: “And Melissa? Will she be back?”
A: “Yes [abridged due to privacy of source], she will definitely be back.”
Q: “Melissa’s sisters?”
A: “No, no, we get what they try and do on twitter and it takes the sparkle off the series; they won’t be Housewives any time soon.”
Q: “And you said earlier about Kathy not being asked back — so the big question is, do you know if Teresa is back next season?
A: “Teresa is 100% safe on Housewives. I think you will find next season the format of the show will change dramatically.”
- Screen Shots of the Conversation Between Jacqueline Laurita and Melissa Gorga at the Season 4 Finale (Strippergate)
- Who Was the Mutual Friend That Texted Jacqueline Laurita at the Season 4 Finale and Told Her Teresa Giudice Was Part of the Setup (Posche Fashion Show and Strippergate)?
- Jacqueline Laurita Blogs That She Did Not Point the Finger at Teresa Guidice for Setting Up Strippergate