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Prosecutors Ask Bravo to Hand Over Unaired Footage from RHONJ for Proof of Inappropriate Spending by the Giudices

August 24, 2013 220 comments

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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?”

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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

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The following are the full articles referenced and quoted above.

Do the Manzo Boys Actually Work for a Living? Little Town NJ Opens for Business in Hoboken

April 20, 2013 168 comments

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“Little Town will operate just fine without you.” – Chris Laurita to Albie and Christopher Manzo, Season 5 Episode 11

“What Caroline Manzo really wanted to talk about was her son’s new restaurant and daughter’s store: ‘It’s called Little Town and it’s opening in Hoboken at the end of April and its all the best of New Jersey and everything is farmed in New Jersey. Lauren’s working hard at her store. It’s celebrating its one-year anniversary. They’ve got me hopping’.” [NaughtyButNiceRob, April 8, 2013]

“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.” [Former RHONJ Post Production Supervisor, September 17, 2012]

Albie and Christopher Manzo have “partnered” with New York City-based restaurateurs Michael Sinensky and Sean McGarr (who also own Little Town New York) to open a new restaurant in Hoboken called Little Town New Jersey (310 Sinatra Drive). The Manzo boys don’t actually run the restaurant — they are compensated for marketing the place using their “celebrity images.” Albie and Christopher live at 333 River Street, which is above the restaurant, so all they have to do is stop by the restaurant for occasional appearances, and their “fans” will buy them drinks for the privilege of hanging out with them.

Reality TV stars Albie and Chris Manzo — of Real Housewives of New Jersey fame — have teamed up with the Village Pourhouse owners to open a new eatery in Hoboken. Little Town NJ, at 310 Sinatra Dr., is slated to open April 9, and the Manzo brothers aim to give the new restaurant some New Jersey flair by using their mom Caroline Manzo’s recipes for the brunch buffet and Sunday Gravy on weekends. Little Town NJ, which incorporates a farmer’s market area where local farmers display their produce, is the third location of Manhattan’s Little Town NYC, owned by Michael Sinensky and Sean McGarr — who also own the Village Pourhouse on First Street in Hoboken. The much-anticipated opening had been scheduled for early November, but superstorm Sandy KO’d those plans. [NJ.com reports the grand opening is scheduled for April 9th]

SO PUMPED! RT @Hoboken411 Little Town NJ and Manzo Brothers set to open Hoboken restaurant in less than two weeks! – Albie Manzo (@AlbieManzo), April 4, 2013, Twitter

Little Town NJ and Manzo Brothers set to open Hoboken restaurant in less than two weeks! Hooray for Jersey! – Hoboken411 ‏(@Hoboken411), April 4, 2013, Twitter

@Chefrey201: Just got the infamous @CarolineManzo meatball recipe for @LittleTownNJ stop by and check em out every Sunday” – Little Town NJ ‏(@LittleTownNJ), April 6, 2013, Twitter

The Manzo boys are not owners/operators of Little Town NJ — they have nothing to do with the daily operations of the restaurant. This is the type of deal the Wakiles were hoping for — Richie explained it in season 3 episode 7 or 8 (and when they talked to Al Manzo about opening a restaurant, he laughed in their faces).

Albie and Christopher were guest bartenders for a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser at the restaurant in November 2012. Their mother Caroline has provided the recipe for her Italian-American gravy featured on the brunch buffet and “Sunday Gravy” on weekends.

Even in a write up for the opening, “lending their names” is used to describe Albie’s and Christopher’s association with the restaurant:

The Manzo brothers are not just lending their names and heritages. Don’t be surprised to see them in the kitchen, behind the bar – or even dining in! “I can’t wait for those doors to open,” says 26-year-old Albie, who recently got his bartending card. “This is the first brick and mortar spot that we have been a part of … It’s really a lot of fun to go in there, to see how far it’s come … It’s kind of the best situation for us to get into. We really can’t get yelled at if we go out because we’re at Little Town, and we’re still at work.” And when Season 5 of “Real Housewives” premieres later this year, fans all over the world will get a glimpse at the restaurant. Who knows, maybe Giudice will even flip a table there! “We’re going to feature it definitely” on the upcoming season, says Chris. “The one thing we do on ‘Housewives’ is we film our reality. Viewers are really going to get attached to it the way we have.”

The Manzo boys don’t actually work at Little Town NJ — they just make guest appearances as “celebrities” to promote the business and, of course, they can stop by any time to eat and drink for free. You have to wonder how much longer they can milk this reality TV fame.

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Albie and Chris explain it best in the following interview from NJ.com.

The Manzo brothers are following in the footsteps of their parents, Albert and Caroline Manzo, who own the Brownstone in Paterson.

“We will see,” Albie, 26, said when asked about the new restaurant getting air time this season. “The cameras follow our life, and this is a big part of our life, so we will see what ends up making the show.

“We are really excited. If it is portrayed on the show it will be a lot of fun to watch, because you will see this thing coming along. You will see what it was like when Sandy hit and what it is today. ”

Little Town NJ was expected to open in November, but superstorm Sandy put a hold on those plans when Hoboken suffered extensive damage.

The Hoboken restaurant is owned jointly by the Manzo brothers and the owners of two Manhattan’s Little Town NYC eateries, Michael Sinensky and Sean McGarr, who also own the Village Pourhouse on First Street in Hoboken.

No restaurant owned by Manzos would be complete without something from the Brownstone menu. Family matriarch Caroline Manzo has provided the recipe for her “authentic hard-core” Italian-American Sunday gravy.

“We had that smell every Sunday and we could pig out on home-cooked Italian meals. I am sure we are not the only one missing that,” Chris said. “We are lucky that we can go home in a second and we are bringing that to everyone else.”

The partnership with Sinensky and McGarr grew out of a friendship that dates back to when the brothers flew the coop in Franklin Lakes to experience living on their own in Hoboken in November 2010.

The brothers started to hang out out at The Village Pourhouse and the four became friends “doing karaoke,” business partner Sinensky recalled.

“I noticed because they’re on TV, a lot of people try to buy them shots, so sometimes I get a free round when they’re tipsy,” Sinensky said.

After opening two Little Town restaurants in New York, McGarr and Sinensky were looking to open a restaurant across the Hudson with a focus on “all things New Jersey.”

“We mentioned the idea on LTNJ and they were ecstatic about it,” Sinensky said. “We couldn’t ask for better partners than Chris and Al for LTNJ. Their shared passion for supporting local mom-and-pop (shops) is what has made this such a great relationship.”

When McGarr and Sinensky leased the commercial space at the former Quays Restaurant & Bar — the ground floor of the building in which the Manzo brothers live — the deal was sealed.

“When they told us they found this space the stars couldn’t have been more aligned,” Chris said. “When I found out I could use my own bathroom I said ‘I’m in’.”

Despite their hectic schedules with the “blk” water venture they launched in June 2011, and filming for RHONJ, the brothers say they will be spending a good deal of time at the restaurant.

“I love what we are doing with blk water and I love Little Town,” Albie said. “I never feel personally as though I am working. It’s the type of place we are going to want to be whether it’s behind the bar, having dinner or sweeping the floor. It’s the type of place we are going to want to spend all of our time.”

Having grown up in restaurants, Chris says he is even more enthusiastic about the new restaurant than his other project.

“For me, doing blk, I love it. We all have a great time there, but it is work at the end of the day. You are dealing with a lot of corporate people you are making a lot of phone calls,” Chris said. “I look forward to the restaurant craziness.

“It is almost relaxing to me in some kind of twisted way,” he added. “It brings you back to your childhood. This is what we did when we were 16. If there was a problem at bar at the Brownstone I would get a call and I am there. When I was 18 we were out to dinner with five friends. There was a problem with all the valets at once and there were 200 cars. My dad said ‘I know you are not a valet, but get over here.’ We had to figure it out. It kind of brings us back to how we were raised. It’s going to be really fun for me.”

And the fact that the siblings spend every waking minute with each other does not worry them.

“We are with each other every minute,” Albie said. “We are really at this point morphing into the same person. It is not that we are putting up with each other’s stuff. We know what makes each other tick. We get along great. It is just an extension of yourself at this point.”

Once the restaurant opens, it’s almost a guarantee that their parents will drop in unannounced. Now empty-nesters at their home in Franklin Lakes, Albert and Caroline Manzo have a new place in uptown Hoboken, where they stay two or three days a week trying out life in the city.

“I think they kind of like it,” Chris said. “They don’t even tell us when they are town though.”

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The official grand opening of Little Town NJ, with the formal ribbon-cutting and VIP guests, was on April 18, 2013.

If you attend, you’ll have the pleasure of meeting founder Micheal Sinensky and Sean McGarr, along with their celebrity partners Manzo brothers Albie & Chris.

Flashback: Hoboken411 and the owners took a three day tour of New Jersey back in 2012 to find the best!

Read all the recaps here: Day OneDay TwoDay Three.

Manzos and Lauritas Use “Autism Awareness” to Sell Blk and Draw Customers to Cafface; Is Blk “Giving Back” the Way Signature Apparel Was Supposed to Give Back to the Susan G. Komen Foundation?

April 6, 2013 359 comments

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The Manzos and Lauritas are using autism to sell blk. On April 5, 2013, they teamed up with House of Sports to “to knock-out autism.” In addition to signage for blk prominently featured at the event, there were plenty of cases of blk stacked in the gymnasium with “generation rescue, hope for recovery” and “blk is giving back” printed on the bottles. Registrants at the event were required to make a $10 “donation.”

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How is blk. “giving back,” as indicated on the bottle? Is Blk Beverages LLC giving back the same way the Laurita’s now bankrupt company, Signature Apparel LLC, was supposed to give back to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation? On June 22, 2010, the Komen foundation filed a “proof of claim” against Signature Apparel Group, LLC in the amount of $18,000 for failing to honor a marketing agreement. According to Faux Reality Entertainment:

“The marketing agreement stated that Signature Apparel was to pay the Susan G. Komen Foundation 10% of sales on certain shirts with pink logos and/or insignia for a guaranteed donation of $18,000. Signature Apparel failed to make the guaranteed payment to Susan G. Komen Foundation. In fact, what the Susan G. Komen Foundation did not know is that Signature Apparel was being stripped of all its assets; and less than two months after entering into the marketing agreement with the Komen Foundation, creditors asked the courts to stop Signature Apparel from defrauding further creditors.”

Albie Manzo ‏@AlbieManzo 3 Apr
Come join me and the rest of RHONJ @houseofsportsny this fri to Knockout Autism! $10 donation to register Call 914-479-5419 for details!
Retweeted by Chris Laurita

Joy ‏@JoyDeMello
The @houseofsportsny teaming up with @AlbieManzo @chris_manzo @chris_laurita @JacLaurita to raise Awareness for Autism was outstanding.
7:38 PM – 5 Apr 13

houseofsports ‏@houseofsportsny 5h
Amazing event at the house of sports with the real housewives of nj! Lets all wrk together to knock-out autism.

houseofsports ‏@houseofsportsny 8h
@blkbeverages and @AlbieManzo in the House!!!! @JacLaurita and cast in route!!! pic.twitter.com/gDWg2zaXub

Jacqueline Laurita ‏@JacLaurita 4 Apr
RHONJ will be there! XOXO! “@houseofsportsny: HUGE weekend at HoS! Starts 2morrow w/ Knockout Autism & C u there! pic.twitter.com/vrRtFJ8vgX

houseofsports ‏@houseofsportsny 4 Apr
HUGE weekend at HoS! Starts 2morrow w/ Knockout Autism & @JacLaurita @melissagorga @AlbieManzo & Co. C u there! pic.twitter.com/3l4gd4VJuQ

Albie Manzo ‏@AlbieManzo 4 Apr
Crazy excited for tomorrow!!! @houseofsportsny team has been awesome to work with. Come help us raise money for @genrescue!!!!

juliusmichael ‏@JuliusMichael 4 Apr
Who’s coming out to meet #RHONJ & support autism awareness @houseofsportsny tomorrow at 6:00pm $10.00 donation @KathyWakile @melissagorga
Retweeted by houseofsports

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Also under the guise of charity, Lauren Manzo is promoting the one year anniversary of her beauty bar, Cafface. Throughout April 2013, if you come into Cafface, Lauren will give you blue hair extensions for a $10 donation to support autism.

Jacqueline Laurita ‏@JacLaurita 30 Mar
I’m coming in today!! XOXO! “@Cafface: Autism Unites Us… Come to Cafface the whole month of April!!!

Cafface Beauty Bar ‏@Cafface 30 Mar
Come to Cafface the whole month of April to support Autism! Blue hair starts today!! #autismunitesus

Cafface Beauty Bar ‏@Cafface 30 Mar
you don’t have to make appointments for the blue hair! Just come on ins5 15

As for their son Nicholas, Chris Laurita says, “He keeps progressing, and then regressing, but he’s doing so well. We’re really happy with his progress. He’s a great little boy.” – People magazine, April 5, 2013

In the September 3, 2012, issue of People Magazine, Jacqueline announced that Nicholas is autistic, and she said that once he began to speak, Nicholas would always say, ‘I love you Mommy’ but, at 18 months, he stopped saying ‘I love you.’ She reiterated this at the season 4 reunion when Andy showed a montage of Nicholas as a perfectly normal child. The montage ended with a voice-over of Nicholas telling his mommy that he loves her, which, according to Jacqueline, he isn’t able to do anymore because he has ‘regressed’ and doesn’t really speak too much these days. Jacqueline was downright hysterical by the end of the segment — she sobbed (without tears) into her hands while Caroline Manzo consoled her, assuring her that Nicholas would be able to say those words to her again one day.

Jacqueline told Luxury Report Magazine (also published here) on December 1, 2012, that unlike last season, she is planning to address her son Nicholas’ autism diagnosis on the show this year:

“Obviously our son’s diagnosis is out in the open now. It’s nothing we were ever ashamed of; we only wanted to respect our child’s privacy, since we had not received an actual diagnosis yet. We wanted a diagnosis and a treatment plan in place first, so that people couldn’t speculate on what his issues were before we ourselves actually knew and got a handle on what it was ourselves. Taking care of our child’s needs is obviously a huge priority in our lives, so we would be addressing it on the show, however, it will be addressed with the intentions of bringing awareness to Autism, and to help people to understand and relate to the challenges that we go through as parents, as we works towards to recovering our child. I’m not comfortable, however, with making a spectacle out of my son, so I would hope that Bravo would be sensitive and respectful regarding how they present and expose him in front of the camera. I have faith that Bravo will be sensitive to the matter because they did respect our wishes last season and did not focus primarily on my son while he seemed to regressing and slipping away. Bravo respected that it was an extremely sensitive issue that our family was dealing with, and we are very grateful and appreciative of that.”

In an August 9, 2011 article (the same month Nicholas was diagnosed with autism) published by Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch (Manzo-Laurita Family Strikes Black Gold With Blk), Albie Manzo made claims that blk. helped an autistic child:

Manzo admits he was skeptical of the claims at first and he doesn’t quite understand the science, but the more he drinks it — he downs a bottle a day — and the more he hears from satisfied customers, the more he believes in blk. One case in particular, he told Patch, has really assured him of the product’s potential: A mother gave her autistic son blk. to drink, thinking its unique color might get him drinking more water. The boy not only drank it, he loved it, but the amazing part, he started behaving. The mother reached out to Albie, shocked, who sent her two more cases to try. Her son is stimming less and listening and following directions more. The difference, she told Manzo, is unbelievable.

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