The Real Housewives Of New Jersey: Behind The Scenes SecretsPublished on August 25, 2016. Updated October 28, 2020
The Real Housewives of New Jersey is one of the most exciting drama-filled shows in the Real Housewives franchise. The series began back in 2009 and only a few original cast members remain on the show today. New Jersey was the fourth show created in the installment and from the beginning it stood out because it features such strong family values. Most of the women featured on the show appear alongside either their relatives or long-time friends. Season 7 has just begun and finally the focus seems to have shifted off the Giudice-Gorga family feuding and onto mending old friendships. In order to get a better understanding of all the women on RHONJ and what it takes to produce the show, here’s a look at 9 behind-the-scenes secrets of The Real Housewives of New Jersey!
9. First Show to Feature Relatives
The Real Housewives of New Jersey was the first in the franchise to hire Housewives who were related! Caroline and Dina Manzo are both sisters and were originally cast in season one together. Then in another twist of family fate, Caroline and Dina’s sister-in-law Jacqueline was also cast on the show. Jacqueline Laurita married their brother, Chris Laurita who is often featured on the show, while Caroline and Dina Manzo married two brothers which is why they both have the same last name. That was the first family tree to join RHONJ, but now family seems like a common theme as Teresa’s brother Joe Gorga and his wife Melissa Gorga,Teresa’s sister-in-law, joined the series back in season 3. Teresa’s cousin Kathy Wakile also joined the show in season 3, but has since left and now makes guest appearances. In season 6, Bravo cast twin sisters Teresa Aprea and Nicole Napolitano who have also since left the series. Following in the New Jersey footsteps, sisters Kim and Kyle Richards were cast as Housewives in the first season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and continue to appear on the show to this day.
8. The Brownstone
The famous Brownstone was a big part of The Real Housewives of New Jersey while Caroline Manzo and her family were on the show. The business has received worldwide recognition after being featured on the reality series, but it was actually a televised location long before that. The venue was used to film many scenes in the first season of The Sopranos! How cool is that? The Brownstone began when Tiny, Caroline’s father-in-law, bought it from Tom Clune and Rita Coriani and has now evolved into an establishment known for hosting events, a bakery and a catering company. It is currently run by Tommy and Albert Manzo.
7. Mob Family Connections
There has been much speculation about the Manzo family having a crime family connection. Caroline is very protective of her ‘good-girl’ image and her role as the perfect mother, so of course she has adamantly denied these rumors. However, many news outlets have reported that Caroline’s father-in-law, Tiny Manzo, was “certainly a player in the scene with organized crime.” On the reunion special of season one of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, it was revealed that Dina and Caroline’s father-in-law, Tiny Manzo, were brutally murdered, but the women refused to go into detail. The New York Daily News featured an article with information from an undercover police officer named Mike Russell who had further information. The article reads: “A bit of nastiness that attaches to the family dates back to the murder of Al’s father, Albert (Tiny) Manzo, whose body was found in the trunk of a car outside a supermarket in Hillside, N.J., in 1983. He was executed mob-style.” Caroline Manzo refuses to tarnish his name and reputation and has said, “I will not give credence to the Mafia talk. He was a good man, a family man. His death remains a mystery.”
6. Real Reason Behind the Fight with Jacqueline and Teresa
On the newest season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, viewers are hearing more about Jacqueline Laurita and Teresa Giudice’s tarnished friendship. The reason that they are no longer friends is said to be because Jacqueline questioned Teresa and supposedly “ambushed” her about tabloid rumors of her going to jail. However, a former employee who worked on the production team alleged that the fighting stems from something much more superficial — endorsement deals! The story goes that their friendship began to sour when Jacqueline was offered several endorsement deals with products like teeth whitener and a real fruit-based alcohol and Teresa then initiated her own deals with similar products. The two weren’t allowed to discuss these details on air of course because it would tarnish the whole “reality” image. It takes a lot more to ruin a friendship than a few bad deals, but it seems this was the first of many reasons these two now can’t get along.
5. Dina vs. Caroline and Jacqueline
The feud between three family members, Dina Manzo, Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline Laurita was discussed on The Real Housewives of New Jersey more than once, but the reason behind it all was always kept pretty vague. The group is pretty peaceful now, but Dina is still somewhat on the outs as she’s moved to California and has next to no interaction with either Caroline or Chris’s families. Things were so bad at one point that Dina didn’t meet her newphew Nicholas, until many years after he was born and even went so far as Dina telling Chris she wouldn’t have a relationship with him unless he left his wife, Jacqueline. Dina’s issues with Jacqueline began after season one when Caroline tried to take the blame for circulating the book about Danielle Staub. Jacqueline didn’t want Caroline to take the fall on her own and didn’t like that Dina wasn’t copping to it, so she announced that it was Dina who started it all. This caused Dina to get angry with Jacqueline, and when Caroline wouldn’t take Dina’s side, it angered her even more. She felt that blood should stick with blood and Caroline should back her up. By season 2 Dina was wanting to quit the show, she blamed it on all the business with Danielle, but in reality there was also a family feud brewing which ended up lasting many years. Since then she’s accused Jacqueline of using the show to air their family’s dirty laundry.
4. Editing Problems
The family problems between the Giudice’s and the Gorga’s seems to be resolved or at least tamed, but in previous seasons it was all anyone could talk about. It became the entire focus of the show. For a long time it would be one step forward, then two steps back. The same went with Teresa and her friendships with Jacqueline. They would make up, but then all of a sudden the same things became problems again. This is because of the way the show was airing and filming. Viewers know that what we watch on television actually happened approximately 6 to 8 months prior. So in reality it’s old news. Before an episode goes to air, it is sent to the cast members to screen and they are obligated to write a blog post. Of course, this caused a lot of problems for the women because they would constantly have to relive feelings and fights that were previously resolved. The former production supervisor said, “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.”
3. The Real Reason Dina Left the Show
Dina Manzo surprised everyone when she abruptly quit the show during season 2. She didn’t return as a full-time cast member again until season 6. The reason she quit was apparently because of the issues going on with former Housewife Danielle Staub. She said she didn’t like where the show was going, aka she didn’t want Danielle, the former stripper who had a criminal record, on the show. “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,” the former employee said. This of course also led to Dina being estranged with her sister Caroline and brother Chris. She remained friends with Teresa because she claimed Teresa had no obligation to quit and that it was her family that should have backed her up and stood by her side.
2. Season 4 Finale
According to the former production supervisor, the season 4 finale of RHONJ was heavily orchestrated by producers to create a suspenseful drama-filled ending that would lead into the reunion special. Angelo, the man who was Melissa’s former boss, was invited on the show by the producers. During an interview, the former employee said, “[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…Cat started getting worried about her job, so she knew she needed to bring the drama.” Allegedly, the producers had a big finale planned ahead of time, but none of the cast members knew exactly what would happen. Melissa was told that “someone from her past wanted to say hello and we were to film her reaction to that.” Apparently there was a lot of manipulation by producers to create a scenario where it looked like Teresa invited Angelo on purpose to out Melissa for allegedly being a stripper. None of it was true and it was all devised to create a more dramatic finale, but it ended up causing a huge riff in the relationship between Teresa and Melissa. Of course, there was more that happened afterwards to create more problems: “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 to 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.”
1. The Phone Call in Napa
In season 4 all of the Housewives and their husbands went on a trip to Napa. The trip was meant to squash tension between everyone, especially Teresa and Melissa. According to the former production supervisor, none of the cast members wanted to go on the trip, but they were all obligated in their contracts with Bravo to go on a seasonal vacation. Each season across the board on all the Real Housewives shows the entire cast will go on a trip, usually it’s just the girls, but because New Jersey is so family based and all the cast are intertwined the husbands are often included. This particular trip sparked a crusade of cheating rumors when Joe Giudice took a private phone call, forgot to remove his mic and was recorded having a controversial conversation with an unknown caller. During the call he used derogatory language in reference to Teresa and was extremely secretive about the whole thing. The former employee said it was all misunderstood and Joe was in a bad mood because of all the legal problems he was having back home. “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,” he said. Of course, no one knows the truth except for Joe and whoever he was on the phone with. He claims it was someone from work.