Carole Radziwill – Free Radical

Photo: Anna Gunselman : "The Widow's Guid To Sex and Dating"

Photo: Anna Gunselman : “The Widow’s Guid To Sex and Dating”

Carole Radziwill is unlike any other Housewife I’ve met so far. A free spirited type who doesn’t take herself, or the show, too seriously, she reminds me of the New Yorkers I know. Perhaps because she hails from the same New York City suburb I do. She’s definitely not an uptown, uptight kind of girl. I might dare to say this interview was the greatest honor and challenge I’ve had to date. It’s a little intimidating interviewing a journalist, but Radziwill isn’t one to make others feel insecure or inferior. Just don’t send your ghostwriter to the interview…

TBB: Every Real Housewife has a story, how did you first get involved with the show?

CR: It was a serendipitous. I was finishing up my novel, and Bravo was looking to recast the show. Andy Cohen and I were friends, and he asked me out of the blue at a dinner if I’d be interested-which was surprising since at the time I was only vaguely aware of the show and his involvement in it. I have a natural curiosity for things, it’s my journalistic instinct, and I don’t have children or a husband to embarrass, only my dog Margaret. It was unlike anything I’d ever done, and like my late friend the great Hollywood agent Sue Mengers said,”Who are you to walk away from a deal? You’re just another single girl with bills.” I didn’t think about much more than that.

TBB: You and Andy have been friends for a long time. Was it odd to end up working for him?

CR: Oh shit. Is Andy my boss? I don’t interact with him day-to-day,we report to the show producers. Either way, Andy and I have respect for our friendship so are careful to keep that separate. Honestly, neither of us want to talk Housewives when we are at dinner with friends. But New York is also a very small town if you’re working in any aspect of media or entertainment, and I’ve been in this industry for 20+ years – journalism, writing, producing. There are few strangers in this field.

TBB: Your second season on RHONY is airing now, did you need any convincing to come back after your first one?

CR: Yes, I needed a bigger trailer, all the red M&M’s removed from my afternoon snack tray and a cute boyfriend. I got a bottle of Top Chef wine, and a Mazel t-shirt instead. I’ll try again next season.

TBB: Last season you and Aviva Drescher were buddies, now there’s the infamous “Bookgate.” When we watched the show it seemed like something was lost in editing and the initial conflict over lunch didn’t translate very well to the viewers. Can you fill inthe blanks for us?

CR: Yes, a lot is lost in editing. I get that it left viewers bewildered. The lunch was nearly 2 hours. We spoke a great deal about the state of our friendship, which was at that time, virtually non-existent. That was the conflict, it was not initially about my career or glasses or whether or not I wanted to date her moving men. Before that lunch I filmed scenes with some of the other women and I discussed my friendship with Aviva. So there are hours of footage that could have been used in the show to better set up my feelings going into the lunch. Bravo choose to make it unclear, maybe they thought it was more dramatic? Who knows. I suppose all those things come out at the reunion. Stay tuned.

TBB: What was your own reaction when you watched Aviva’s housewarming party?

CR: It was not at all fun to watch. I’d seen her belittle other cast-mates before but it was the first I’d been at the receiving end of that side of her. I had no idea how much had been said, and filmed, without my knowing — untruths about my career – and watching scene after scene of Aviva spreading lies and ridiculous gossip about me was more shocking than anything that was said at her housewarming party. It was all so contrived and calculated. In our conversation she was unintelligible, nothing she said made any sense. I should have laughed and walked away. But trust me, it is hard to do when you’re being insulted, belittled, and ridiculed. I’m not that cool! Instead, I tried to reason with an unreasonable person and, well, you all saw the result.

TBB: Many Housewives and celebrities in general, have jumped on the book writing bandwagon. As a writer by trade how does that make you feel?

CR: As I said on the show last season to Luann (DeLesseps), I’m happy to see anyone publish a book. My career outside the reality show and books published as part of story-lines on the show are not the same thing. I haven’t read all of the books, but I do hope the show has been a good platform to help them sell. It’s a difficult industry, and especially with the decline of brick and mortar bookstores, it’s hard for any one book to get the attention it needs to sell enough for a publisher to invest in the next one and a next one. I’m in the business of writing and selling books, and it’s good for everyone when people are buying and reading them.

TBB: Your first book, What Remains, was a memoir. Your latest, The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating, is anovel. Did you find it more challenging to share your own story, or create a character and her story?

CR: They were two wildly different challenges. It was difficult to relive my own story, and get it down in a way that didn’t feel gratuitous or melancholic. I didn’t want it to be a sad story and it was challenging to step out of my own emotions and write it down — all these people I loved — as characters, in a story. I thought fiction would be so much easier, because you can do whatever you want, but there’s so much art to it. When you’re limited by just your own creativity it can be daunting! After a first draft, I didn’t think any of the characters were interesting at all. I went back and shaded them in, gave it structure, and a more concrete plot.

TBB: Will there be more novels onthe way?

CR: I hope so. I don’t have anything in my head right now because I’m working on a non-fiction book of essays which I hope to finish this year. Then maybe I’ll go back to fiction again.

TBB: Any plans for a movie or TV version of Claire (The Widow’s Guide…) and her story?

CR: Universal/NBC recently bought the rights to the book to develop a television series. So, yes.But I have some experience in Hollywood. It can take years to get the right team in place — show-runners, actors, scriptwriters. People will sign on at different stages and have different creative ideas. So I don’t have a good idea of when Claire and her friends will be on screen. Hopefully in 2015!

TBB: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

CR: Rewrite. Write everything down, then rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. And ask strangers to read your work. I had a reading group for my memoir. I didn’t know any of them, my sister helped put it together for me and I got such valuable feedback. They helped me understand what worked and didn’t work, where the gaps were. But fall in love with re-writing, that’s where the magic happens.

TBB: Back to Housewives, to date what has been your favorite moment on the show?

CR: There are really so many but I think last season when Heather (Thomson) and I got drunk at a gaybar. I see that scene now and I can see the moment she went from fellow castmember to real friend. I also loved the double date scene with Lu and Jacque. It’s so real. Lots of girls can identify with an awkward first date. Add two cameras recording it all and you have a recipe for funny TV.

TBB: What about your most cringeworthy?

CR: Nothing makes me cringe. Oh, wait, maybe the scene with the matchmaker. I’d try anything once…..Ugh.

TBB: We recently watched you lunch with Brandi Glanville and Yolanda Foster from the Beverly Hills franchise. Do you watch the other Housewives shows and if so, which ones?

CR: I watch whichever show is on when I’m flipping through the channels. And mostly to see who has better cameramen and lighting! I spent 15 years in an edit room so I am interested in the editing also. They are not my guilty pleasure, it’s work now. And with a looming deadline for my next book, and promoting the last one as well as the show, I’ve had to really try to keep quiet space for myself to work. When we are filming, the hours are really consuming. So when we stop, I have to really focus on my day job — there is a lot to make up.

TBB: I like to think that those we have lost watch over us. If your husband, Anthony; and John and Carolyn Kennedy are watching over you, what do you think they are saying about Carole Radziwill, Real Housewife of New York City?

CR: Ha. Well,they all had the most wonderful senses of humor. And all three were risk-takers. Carolyn would probably have secretly loved the show. She’d have been happy with most of my wardrobe. I think all three would be shocked that regular people would be filmed in their own lives and put on television. If they’re watching over me, they probably want me to curse less.

TBB: Thank you for talking with us. Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

CR: I’m a girly-girl,girls girl.

Reality Roundup: Bookgate in NY, Braceletgate in NJ, and Birthdaygate in Miami

RHONY in NJ, Carole Radziwill reads from her new novel.

RHONY in NJ, Carole Radziwill reads from her new novel.

Housewife Guy has the weekend off, but gossip never takes a vacay! This week was no exception, with some of the juiciest stories in TBB‘s very own backyard. The Real Housewives of New York City are on the air and at each other’s Chanel necklaced throats. Bravo is heavily promoting the feud du jour between Carole Radziwill and Aviva Drescher. The debacle even has its own hashtag #Bookgate. The ghostwriter finger pointing hit new heights, however, when Drescher called into Vh1‘s Gossip Table  Tuesday morning.

Drescher told the panel about the “epic fight” saying, “one of us admits to having a lot of help and one doesn’t” in reference to Drescher’s memoir Leggy Blonde, and Radziwill’s What Remains and The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating, a memoir and fictional novel respectively.

“I had a lot of help on my book,” Drescher said. But she dropped a bomb when GT host Rob Shuter asked if there’s any possibility of Bethenny Frankel and Jill Zarin returning to the show. “I heard they are going to replace Heather (Thomson) and Carole. Heather and Carole are trying to be like Ramona (Singer) and Sonja (Morgan) NOT…I heard that Jill and Bethenny might come back and boot them off the show.”

While Drescher was spreading rumors this week, Radziwill was spreading the word about her first foray into fiction. The longtime journalist and widow of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s nephew Anthony Radziwill, who succumbed to cancer in 1999, was busy visiting bookstores and reading excerpts from Widow’s Guide and autographing copies for her readers. I caught her at Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ near her childhood home of Suffern, NY along with her parents and sister. When asked about the Jill/Bethenny comment, which Andy Cohen squashed on Radziwill’s Tuesday appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Radziwill said that Drescher was probably just listening to, “the voices in her head.” She also said that she never meant to offend stay at home moms with the comment she said to Aviva in Tuesday’s episode.

So did Radziwill have any help writing either of her books? She does admit to one surprising source of advice. “Christiane Amanpour, a very old friend of mine and my husband’s (when I first started dating) said; ‘You should keep a journal and you should call it the Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating. She actually says she didn’t say sex but I’m pretty sure she did say ‘sex and dating’…I didn’t keep a journal but I kept the title. She always likes to be credited.”

Personally, knowing Aviva and listening to her call on GT I think it was just her kooky sense of humor. Her tone, to me sounds very jocular. Below is a link to the clip. What do you all think?

The Real Housewives of New Jersey may be off air for a moment, but it doesn’t mean they are off our radar. RHONJ and now convicted tax felon Teresa Giudice won’t let her legal woes get her down. The mother of four daughters, and cookbooks, made an appearance at Kim D’s Posche spring fashion show on Wednesday night, but you had to pay a price for a moment with the queen of the table flip. Apparently Giudice was with a handler who let people know they had to purchase a 25 dollar book to get an autograph and picture with the reality star. This was in addition to the $110 ticket to attend the dinner. Another caveat, the fans had to pay Teresa in cash. Considering these days anyone can accept credit cards with an iPhone it seems to me Tre wants to hide some income for fear of the government garnishing her wages.

Is a Jerseylicious star ripping off the RHONJ’s niece? According to Candice Laurita; niece of Caroline Manzo and Dina Manzo,and Jacqueline Laurita; Tracy DiMarco has been knocking off her accessory business, Dazzle Candy for months.

“When I was told about this I literally felt sick,” Laurita told TBB, “The designs are so similar that it’s impossible to be a coincidence so many times over. When things like this happen it’s always really upsetting, but to have it come from someone with such a large reality TV following, it is that much more devastating to my business that I worked so hard to build.”

This is not the first case of jewelry knock off drama in New Jersey. Last month we reported that Kim D had been accused of stealing her cuff designs from another designer. Laurita is currently awaiting a response from DiMarco but supplied the following pictures from Dazzle Candy and DiMarco’s Princess Armor websites. What do you think?

Credit: Dazzle Candy

Credit: Dazzle Candy

Speaking of the Manzos their fanzos may have to wait a little while before they get to see the famous reality tv star family return to the air. A source told us they are having some issues with the production of their spinoff Manzo’d With Children. “They really want it to be real,” the source who by the way was NOT Candice, told us. “They are trying to exert some control over the editing. They don’t want their show overproduced.” Three cheers for Caro and the crew for trying to keep it real!

Let’s leave the Northeast for some fairer weather Housewife scoop. Perez Hilton reports that Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams has a new man. According to Hilton’s site Williams is dating 42 year old Teodoro Nguema Obiang son of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, dictator, er president, of Equatorial Guinea. Mbasogo is “considered one of the most brutal rulers in Africa.” RHOA fans have been side eyeing the newly divorced Williams’s luxurious lifestyle all season, but this relationship would certainly explain how it’s been funded as the family of Obiang has some serious oil wealth, allegedly pillaged off the backs of their population. Williams was married to NFL player Kordell Stewart whose sexuality has been questioned all season long by her and her cast mates. As Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger would say, it seems like Porsha’s picker is off!

 South of Atlanta the ladies of Real Housewives of Miami as well as others, Countess LuAnn DeLesseps , gathered to celebrate Marysol Patton‘s birthday. The odd thing, Patton’s birthday was in January. The daughter of the free spirited Mama Elsa is a Capricorn, as she’s tweeted me about our shared birth sign before. A source who attended the event said the party, “was just going to be (a restaurant opening) but restaurant owners wanted to do a belated birthday bash for her.” Restaurant owners? Sounds more like producers to me. Could RHOM be filming another season? Does Marysol have a pilot for another show? Hmmm sounds fishy to me. Patton’s true birthday is January 9th.

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Aviva Drescher’s Second Act


Catching up with Aviva in New Jersey.

A lively crowd has gathered, braving the frigid Northeast temperatures on a Thursday night in Northern New Jersey. The group, gathered at Books and Greetings in Northvale, awaits the arrival of Real Housewives of New York City star Aviva Drescher. Clutching copies of her new memoir Leggy Blonde, they anxiously watch the arrival of each SUV wondering if it contains the statuesque beauty with the very famous last name. Finally somebody spots her entourage which, in addition to her handlers, includes ever present husband Reid. “She’s here,” one fan chirps. Her publicist peeks in and then runs back out, and when he returns Aviva is entering the shop. She’s a whirlwind of apologies, although she is barely tardy, as she removes her coat and reveals a very lithe figure in head to toe black; leather leggings and a sleeveless lace shell.

Almost immediately Drescher captivates the room, but not in the I’m a star, worship me way you would expect from a member of what could arguably be the most popular series of Reality Television shows in the world. Drescher’s way of captivating her live audience is humbler than that. She uses her warm smile and quizzical eyes to connect with each fan on a level of friendship. She is unassuming, welcoming, interested in what is happening around her, regardless of what a final edited episode of RHONY may lead you to think. It’s this quality of her character that quickly remedies any star struck nervousness in the room. When she invites questions, they start rolling in.

Eager to answer, yet not raise any red flags, any Bravoleb will tell you that the network is very strict about spoilers, she does her best to answer each question as thoroughly as she can. Being she’s only seen the first two episodes this is fairly easy for her. The final cut of Season 6, Drescher’s second on the franchise, remains as much a mystery to her as it is to the show’s many fans, but one thing is sure from the get go:

“It really changed from last season and you will see that right off the bat,” she says when asked which cast mates she’s closest with. “Right now I’m pretty close with Lu Ann( De Lesseps), Ramona (Singer), and Sonja (Morgan) and I’m not close with Heather (Thomson) and Carole (Radziwill) and the new cast mate Kristen (Taekman).”

For fans that follow the women on Twitter the last part comes as no surprise. A feud between Drescher and Radziwill has been quite apparent in recent weeks since the first video promo hinting at a tiff aired. “Out of the gates I felt pretty pounced upon and I felt like she was really really un supportive at best and very condescending,” Drescher says regarding the incident with Radziwill, a longtime journalist and author of What Remains and The Widow’s Guide To Dating.

When asked if the animosity stemmed from the fact that Radziwill is an experienced author in a world where anybody who has a name can suddenly write a book, Drescher said “I don’t have my head around yet what caused it. I’m not at all a jealous kind of person, the race for me is against myself. I just am so disappointed in both of us that that’s what aired and that’s what happened. This should have been a relationship of two women celebrating two books being written. You know her second, my first, she’s a writer, I’m not, whatever it is and I’m just sad about it.”

On what we can expect from new Housewife Taekman, Drescher says, “She’s a bit of a follower so she’s kind of latched onto Carole and Heather and I can only tell you when I was six years old and I followed somebody I lost my leg because of it….However…She’s stunning and she’s lovely and she throws a good punch.”

Drescher is not all about throwing shade. Last season she was at odds with Ramona, but the two have made great strides since then. “Ramona is doing amazingly well. I’ve never met anybody with so much strength and a fervor for life ….To go through something like she’s going through now and to just be so incredibly strong and having such a good head on her shoulders it’s amazing…just amazing,” she says referring to the highly publicized breakup of Singer’s longtime marriage to Mario.

Of course Drescher cannot get involved too much in anybody else’s drama. With a new book, four children, and her notoriously outlandish father George, she certainly has enough of her own personal chaos. “After the season I’m leaving for Bali because (my father) is on it and he is worse than ever! He’s absolutely crazy this season, he makes last season look like nothing. He is just so raw and raunchy. Andy Cohen said he had to tone down the show this year, (I’m pretty sure it’s because of my father). I take such a hit for his behavior, which I don’t understand, it’s not like I raised him, but it makes for great TV.”

So why do a show that makes you feel like you want to run and hide? For Drescher it’s simple; “For every nasty comment there’s twenty people calling me and writing me saying; ‘I was in the hospital and I just had my leg amputated and I saw you in a bathing suit and I was able to go on’.”

This has always been Drescher’s motivation for Reality Television. When I first spoke with her over a year ago she was just preparing to write her book, which recounts the accident that took her leg at the tender age of six. Knowing all too well that without a recognizable name writing such a book would be a challenge, she turned to the Housewives to build that recognition, after being introduced to Cohen’s radar by RHONY alum Bethenny Frankel, whom she impressed after meeting in the Hamptons. “That’s what keeps me on the show because it’s such a headache. I know it’s fun to watch because I watch the other shows too, but we take a beating.

When asked how she found the writing process and reopening all those old wounds she says, “It was very heavy and I remember going to Reid; ‘I can’t believe what I lived through.’ My mortality was challenged at such a young age. Most people grow up and in their twenties they’re driving over the speed limit, smoking pot, and having a good time and I never had that luxury. I was always nervous that something was going to happen and if it was going to happen it was going to happen to me.”

Of course writing a memoir is always a risk. There’s the risk of sounding self possessed, being a bore, and of course pissing off some of your nearest and dearest, but Drescher found more support than she imagined. “My father is an avid reader who reads a book or two a day. The first thing he said to me was, ‘It’s a really great book, it’s really quick and you don’t bore your reader.’ So I was really happy, and then about a month later he says; ‘You know you really kicked my ass in this book!’. Harry (Dubin), my ex husband, who I’m with everyday, we’re all great friends, I don’t think he’s ready yet. There was an article in the New York Post which had an excerpt of what I said about Harry and our marriage. He was actually in my house when I was on the phone trying to stop the article and he just said he felt so bad for me, he’s such a compassionate person.”

Drescher has the added responsibility of her very famous married name. Her husband’s first cousin is none other than Fran Drescher who rose to stardom as the well loved title character on the nineties sitcom The Nanny. When asked about her famous cousin, a cancer survivor who is now heavily involved in her charity Cancer Schmancer, she replies “Fran is doing great. She feels great and looks gorgeous. I would think for somebody like Fran who is an iconic actress that somewhere in her subconscious she’s wouldn’t be happy that her first cousin’s wife was doing this ridiculous show. But she has been so selflessly supportive. She filmed with us but it didn’t air. Probably because nobody fought.”

It’s clear to see that regardless of who she is feuding or friending Drescher is much more solid on her feet as a second seasoner. Last year she struggled with all the ups and downs of putting her life on the small screen, but for her the payoff of inspiring other amputees is worth it. Of course she can’t get through a Q & A without being compared to that other Leggy Blonde.

“I’ve never met Heather Mills but I tried on her prosthesis in 1999. It was right before I married (Harry) and the only person who made a cosmetic prosthesis was in London so my parents were kind enough to take me. I saw this leg and it was Heather Mills’s leg so I tried it on to see and for the first time in my life I was able to look down and see what it would look like to have two real legs. It was so exciting for me.”

So does this mean we will also see Aviva Drescher on Dancing With The Stars? She turns to Reid, “Do you think I could do it Reid?” He nods and reassures her. “Physically I could do it… yeah I would do it, I love to dance.”

**For more on Aviva check out Notes On A Housewife .