Real Housewives of New Jersey's Caroline Manzo is at the Center of a Storm of Crazy
Caroline Manzo's got a lot going on. When the fourth season of Bravo's Real Housewives of New Jersey debuts this Sunday at 10pm, the relatively calm elder stateswoman of the show will be deep into a rift from last season with Teresa Giudice, who wrote a book loaded with insults about her cast mates.
Caroline's 23-year-old daughter Lauren is struggling to lose weight. Her gay brother is getting married on RHONJ. Plus, Caroline's still not talking to former RHONJ housewife Dina Manzo - her sister, who left the show and no longer speaks with Caroline.
Oh, on top of all that, Caroline has a bunch of jobs, including promoting Brownstone Sauce, which is served at her husband's The Brownstone restaurant. And she's active in helping a slew of charitable groups like the Wounded Warriors Project and Best Friends Animal Society.
Caroline spoke with TVFirstLook about the new season of Real Housewives of New Jersey, juggling her jobs and charities and the hope that she'll hear from Dina.
TVFirstLook: So, your gay brother's wedding will take place on this season's Real Housewives. How do you feel about the wedding and how do you feel about it being on TV?
Caroline Manzo: I commend Bravo for covering it. I really appreciate that. But I take this very personally. When my brother first came out, I called my husband crying. He asked me why I was crying and I said, "I'm not crying because I'm embarrassed. I don't want him to be hurt." I still feel that way.
I think it's great that Bravo's putting this out there. You should have the right to love who you love. So, I think it's great.
TVFirstLook: We interviewed your sister Dina Manzo a few months ago. What can you tell us about your relationship with her?
Caroline: Our relationship isn't what we want it to be. It's not just about me. This affects other siblings, nieces and nephews. Our parents are older and I don't want to hurt them. I don't want to drag something unpleasant through the mud in a public manner. I want to do right by my family. So, I don't want to say too much.
That's right now. I always say that we fight a lot. Sometimes, we don't understand why. But this isn't forever and for always. You just have to let it go and let that person find their way back.
TVFirstLook: Your husband Albert and your kids are on the show. Do you ever worry about exposing their personal lives to millions of TV viewers?
Caroline: When I made the decision to do the show, it was an easy decision because my kids are adults. If they were school age, I would have thought about it a lot more. I wouldn't want to make a decision that would affect their lives.
But we raised them to be individuals who can make decisions on their own.
With Lauren's weight issues and Albie's learning disabilities, they made the decision to have that on the show. I told the producers that it was their call, not mine. I am very proud of them for putting their trials and tribulations out there.
They see how much their journeys help others. And, in turn, to know that other people are going through what they're going through helps them.
Say what you will about reality TV, but I think it's a tremendous learning experience for many people, us included.
TVFirstLook: So, in the new season will we find out why Jacqueline wasn't at last season's reunion episodes? We will find out why Teresa insulted all of you in her book?
Caroline: This year is going to be great for storytelling. There are so many questions about all of us - our husbands, our kids, our lives, our futures.
This season, there will be a lot of dotting the I's and crossing the T's. The story will be told in a unique way so that questions are answered, but in time. Viewers will understand why some of us made the decisions we did. It's a good year for storytelling. But, read between the lines. Just read between the lines.
TVFirstLook: Besides the show, you have a lot going on with work, your kids and charities. How do you do it?
Caroline: I'm not Superwoman and I'm not the smartest woman in the world. I just think I'm on auto-pilot. If my kids call me, I'm there. If my husband calls me, I'm there. I don't even think about it. And I'm a night owl, so I get a lot of paperwork and correspondence done in the middle of the night.
With charities, there is no rhyme or reason to which ones I work with. About five months ago, I got an email from the PG Chambers School in New Jersey for special-needs kids. I was so impressed by them that I co-hosted a charity event. I'll do whatever I can with them in the future because I want to. Wounded Warriors is important to me because I give so much credit to people who go into service. And a few days ago, I hosted an event for the Best Friends Animal Society because I'm an animal lover.
It's impossible to be a force for good for every charity but, if I believe in a cause, I will do what I can.