momlogic's Vivian: I, for one, am beyond psyched that one of my fave guilty pleasures -- "The Real Housewives of New York City" -- is on its way back to Bravo with all-new episodes, starting March 4th. And I was even more psyched when levelheaded mom, activist, friend, wife, daughter and businesswoman Jill Zarin agreed to answer some of my questions about the coming season.
Here's the play-by-play of our gabfest:
momlogic: Just watched the season premiere of "RHONYC"! Now that's some action! How was filming this season?
Jill Zarin: It was very rough. At the time, I can't even tell you how many times I wanted it to stop. It just immediately went to 90 miles an hour.
ml: Your husband Bobby was in treatment for thyroid cancer during that time, right?
JZ: Yes. He's doing great now, but his mom just passed away this weekend.
ml: I'm so sorry!
JZ: It's all right. She lived a great life. She was 89 and left ten children and eleven great grandchildren, so she had a great life. She went when she was ready. It was actually her birthday weekend and everyone flew in for her birthday party. She waited until we were all together. We're all full of good things now, but I'll tell you: Six months ago ... as my mother used to say, I was "ready to take gas."
ml: I fell in love with your mom last season. What a mensch! And she's the inspiration for your upcoming book, "Secrets Of A Jewish Mother," I'm sure.
JZ: It was written by myself, my sister Lisa and my mother. I'm very proud to say we didn't have a ghost writer. It was written by our hands. It was very important to Lisa and I that it be our voice. I'm not saying I'd never write a book and need help, but this book had to come through us and that's why it was hard to do.
ml: I'm sure your daughter Ally was probably in the forefront of your mind. What does she think of the show?
JZ: She gets a little embarrassed sometimes. Allyson's not into that whole fame/celebrity thing. She's really low-key and very grounded. I guess I did something right! She's unaffected. She keeps me grounded.
ml: What have you learned as a mom from doing the show? Any life lessons about friendship that you've shared with Ally?
JZ: I'm still learning. I can't say the book's written on that yet. It was a very rough season. There were issues in my relationship with Bethenny and some of the other girls that I didn't expect to have problems with. I'm still learning. I can't say I have an answer.
ml: Maybe that's a lesson in and of itself.
JZ: This is what I tell Ally every single day: You always have to do the right thing. You can never behave in reaction to someone else. And this comes up every single day, either for me or for her.
ml: You're an advocate of doing charity work with your daughter. What's she up to these days?
JZ: Ally's very focused on Teens Turning Green. Right now she's working on getting guest speakers for a conference with 800 people. She's really into environmental studies. She got into the college of her choice, but we're waiting to hear from the others.
ml: Wow, that's unnerving, right? Do you still have your nails?
JZ: No. Actually, I really need a manicure desperately.
ml: My daughter's only two, so I'm not quite there yet myself.
JZ: You need the book! Actually, there's a chapter for you called "Sit on the Bed." As they get older and they start to clam up and hide things, that's when you want to sit on the bed and never move. Even if they yell and curse, "Get the f*ck of my bed," you've got to sit on that bed. Eventually they will talk and it will all come out like vomit.
ml: Any highlights from the show you can tell us about?
JZ: One of my favorite scenes coming up on the show is our book cover shoot, where my mother, my sister, my dad and I go to this fancy photography studio and have this amazing day. It's just the four of us -- my husband's not there, my daughter's not there, it's just a small family: two girls, two parents. It was like a dream. And then going on a book tour, being together, doing book signings -- the three of us. I mean, how lucky am I to have my mother and my sister, and we did this together?
ml: During the first episode of the show, someone called you "Dr. Jill." What did you think of that?
JZ: Bethenny did. I think she was just mimicking me. I always think of myself as Dr. Phil: I'm one of Dr. Phil's biggest fans. I love it! I love being Dr. Jill. Biggest compliment ever. What I do is pick up things from other people and make them my own. I don't even realize it! There was a while when I was watching his show every day and I was picking up all this stuff. Hey, I just want to help people. It's coming from a good place. Maybe not in the right way, because I'm not perfect, but it's coming from a good place.
ml: Describe each of the other New York City "Housewives" in a single word.
JZ: Okay. LuAnn ... classy. Ramona ... filterless. Is that a word? Kelly is generous. Bethenny ... driven. Who else is there?
JZ: I don't really know her. I only know her from the few scenes I shot with her. If I had to guess ... complicated. I think people make wrong assumptions about her. And me? I'm a big mouth!
ml: Even in the first episode of this season, you can tell there are a lot of transitions and conflict. Where are you with things now?
JZ: It's obvious in episode one that Bethenny and I come into the season and almost a year passed. A lot went on and our relationship is very damaged. I don't know where we're going to go as far as repairing it. I'm always a postive person and I always hope. Look, the honest truth is I have the worst memory. I don't hold grudges -- not because I don't want to, but because I can't remember why I was mad. And Bethenny knows that. The difference between Bethenny and I is that she has a memory like a hawk. She can tell me that I told her x, y and z last October 20th when I was on the phone with her at 11 o'clock in the morning. And she knows that I can't remember what I ate last night. She'd always recall things for me. It's not an act, maybe it's early Alzheimer's, I don't know. Anyway, my point is, I can't hold onto anything negative because it's not my nature. So time, to me, heals all wounds. The test of a true friendship is that you get past your first real fight. And that's what this season of the show is about. I don't hold on to bad things and I always root for the happy ending.
ml: I'm sure you hope Ally's the same way.
JZ: Well, as the saying goes, "Do as I say, not as I do!"
|Vivian Manning-Schaffel serves as momlogic's East Coast Editor. She has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. She authors two pop culture blogs: The Mad Mom and A Hag Supreme, and is on the web at vivianmanningschaffel.com.|