Catfights, Crazy-Eyes, and Mean Girls–Oy Vey! The third installment of Bravo’s ‘The Real Housewives of New York City‘ (Thursday’s 10/9c) is getting louder and fiercer than ever, and ‘Housewife’ Jill Zarin is right in the thick of it. But despite the upheaval on Elite Street, former BFF Bethenny Frankel would be proud: Jill actually managed to ‘get a hobby.’ And that hobby? It’s called Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love, a book that Mrs. Zarin co-authored with her sister and mother. But like her persona on the show, this hardback isn’t without controversy.
We caught up with Jill on the phone to chat about her new book, her thoughts on the other ‘Housewives,’ and her new role being the ‘bad guy.’
Can you talk about your book and why you wanted to write it?
The book is written by my mother and my sister and I. I thought it was a neat thing to do for a family–not just to write the book together and have a legacy for our kids, but to be able share this [with others]. I’ve just had such a great time with the show, with the success, with the fame, and the love from the fans. I’m all about sharing and connecting and building people up.
What can we expect to find between its covers?
We have a Yiddish glossary–for people who are Jewish or not Jewish–who just want to know what our top 50 favorite Yiddish words are. And we also have a test at the end of the book called ‘Are You a Jewish Mother?’ Questions like: Do you have to know everything about everything? Do you have to know everything about everyone? Do you start your sentences with ‘This is what you have to do…’ and Are you a natural instant matchmaker? We also have tips on beauty, facials, botox, plastic surgery…money and dating. We give a lot of personal stories.
What makes a good Jewish mother is that we don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and we keep advocating in a good way. You certainly don’t have to be a Jewish mother to be a Jewish mother or to become one.
How do you feel about the stories that have recently come out over the controversy surrounding your book, what’s being called “Amazon-gate”?
I haven’t responded to it–at some point I will. I think it’s mean. I’m on a reality show, and there will always be people who will love and hate the character. There’s an agenda that unfortunately some people have, and I can’t control that. I just stay in my lane and focus on my stuff. And I think people know my character and that really says it all.
Switching gears, did you watch the ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ premiere? What did you think?
Not only did I watch it, I went to New Jersey for the premiere party! Oh, my God. It’s like apples and oranges [compared to our show]…or apples and tomatoes since they’re into cooking tomatoes. What I love about the New Jersey ‘Housewives’ is that the characters are all organically connected–except for Danielle. I like it better when there’s a history, but you can’t always get what you want.
Do you think you’d ever get to a point where you’d toss over a table and just lose it like Teresa?
Never. But after watching it, boy, would that feel good!
As for your show, what do you think of the newest housewife, Sonja Morgan?
I can only judge her from what I personally see–not what’s edited. Because clearly we’re all characters–there’s the one you love, there’s the one you hate, there’s the one you love to hate, there’s the sex pot–everyone’s got a role. When I met her, she’s been nothing but nice, but I don’t really know her. But from what I’ve seen, she’s a lovely lady who’s just trying to make a living. I think she did this show because she likes this business and wants to work and I respect that.
Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen with your relationship with Bethenny–could you give us a hint?
We’re exactly where we are sort-of in the show–nothing’s really changed. But I’m really, really happy for her–happy from a distance but happy.
Do you want to mend the relationship?
Yes, I do. Yup.
On last week’s episode, Alex states in front of everyone that Bethenny’s ‘done with you.’ But later she reveals to Bethenny that she actually held some grudges against you for past offenses. What was your reaction when you heard this?
She really attacks me in future episodes–and I don’t know where it’s coming from and I’m very confused. You’ll see in this week’s episode: She’s bringing up stuff from two years ago. I thought we resolved it and got past it.
I think Alex wanted to stay on the show and needed to find a voice, and I think she was with Bethenny and they made an alliance–like the game ‘Survivor.’ They decided to be together because Bethenny and I weren’t friends anymore–that’d she be Bethenny’s BFF. And that’s what happened.
I guess this is ‘to be continued’…
Yeah! Look, I know when I do something wrong, and I say I’m wrong when I’m wrong. But I have no idea where this came from. I was like: ‘Why is Alex attacking me every time I see her?’ If I’m nice to her, she says I’m being a phony. And if I’m not warm and friendly, I’m being a hypocrite. I don’t know how to act with her in the room.
Who do you think has been the craziest character so far this season?
Well, I think I’m it! I think I appear to be the most controversial character because I’m not myself–but there’s a lot of editorial freedom to the show. Sometimes it makes good television to take the good guy and make him the bad guy. It’s sort of like in ’24’ when they killed off Tony Almeida and he was the good guy and then he came back and they found out he was the bad guy and then they found he was the good guy! Well, that makes good TV! So this season I was portrayed for most of it as the bad guy, but maybe in the end, they’ll make me the good guy…I think I’m a good person.
Since Mother’s Day is around the corner, any advice to the ladies out there who love your show?
Well, I ask in my book: ‘What time do you call your mother every day?’ And if you’re not calling every day, you should be! Okay, maybe not every day. But call your mother. If you have an estrangement with your mom, this is the day to try. The day of reconciliation is Mother’s Day. Life is too short. Life is temporary.
‘The Real Housewives of New York City’ airs on Thursday nights at 10pm.