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'Real Housewives of New Jersey' remain divided

The Associated Press, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 8:37am (PDT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- In the first episode of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" sophomore season, incendiary cast member Danielle Staub hangs out with her priest, pedicurist and daughters — but not any of the soapy Bravo reality series' other housewives. It seems the rift between Staub and her fellow leading ladies is now larger than a Garden State hairdo.

"I think in the first season, it caught me off guard," said Staub. "I thought at least one of them was truly being a friend to me, whereas as this season pans out, I realize that's not the case."

Staub adds that this season, which premieres May 3 at 10 p.m. EDT, she's "not going to be anyone's patsy. I think the world will be just as interested in me as a single person as they will be in them as a group."

Staub, a single 47-year-old mother of two daughters, continues to be on one side of the Jersey barrier opposite sisters Dina and Caroline Manzo, their sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita and family friend Tersea Giudice, who infamously savaged a table at a restaurant in last season's finale when the women confronted Staub about her alleged criminal past.

"I don't have any regrets," acknowledged Giudice. "As you saw throughout the show, she did a lot of things to me, and I kept my mouth shut, so it was like a buildup, and then finally, I couldn't take her no more. She did a lot of things off the scene and on the scene that you guys saw that got me to that boiling point, and then I was just done with her."

Last year's table-flipping finale drew over 4.6 million viewers. The polarizing suburban drama served as a shot of Botox for Bravo's aging "Real Housewives" franchise. Viewers were drawn to the less aspirational, more genuine antics of the Jersey gals over the tanned original Orange County brood, hot-to-trot New York City ladies and sassy Atlanta denizens.

Other equally unapologetic Jersey-set reality series have since followed suit, including MTV's "Jersey Shore," Style's "Jerseylicious" and Oxygen's upcoming "Jersey Couture," which stars an Italian-American family who run a dress shop. "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast and crew, however, dismiss any comparisons to other made-in-Jersey reality TV shows.

"What's amazing to me about this second season is it's so much about family," said Andy Cohen, Bravo's senior vice president of original programming and development who also hosts "The Real Housewives" reunion shows. "Each of these women are mothers, and they all have different, intense and interesting things going on with their children this season."

Of course, there's still female trouble. Unlike the other three "Real Housewives" editions, where the casts do lunch as often as they quibble, the Jersey women are clearly housewives divided, making this second entry in the popular Bravo franchise feel more like "The Real Housewives — and Danielle Staub — of New Jersey."

"Before the show, we weren't really friendly with her," admitted Dina. "It was the four of us who knew each other. Danielle was the one who came along that none of us knew. It's pretty much the same. It's like a working relationship. Obviously, we're contracted to do a show with her. We did interact during filming, but since then I haven't run into her."

The reality TV drama entered the courtroom earlier this year when Ashley Holmes, Laurita's 19-year-old daughter, was found guilty in a municipal court on one count of assault and ordered to pay a fine after Staub complained that Holmes ripped out a clump of her hair extensions during an altercation, which will apparently factor into the second season.

"It was very painful, really unexpected and much undeserved," said Staub. "Police showed up, charges were made and it was up to the state. I wasn't going to allow anyone to put their hands on me without thinking there were repercussions because I'm not garbage. I'm actually a good person who deserves to go where I want to go without people attacking me."

Staub, who was accused of being an escort and drug addict in the first season, said she will tell her side in her upcoming autobiography, "The Naked Truth: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewife of New Jersey — In Her Own Words." Despite Staub's rocky relationship with her "Real Housewives" cast members, she'd "absolutely" sign up for a third season.

"It's not about them," said Staub. "My life is never going to be about them."

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Bravo is owned by General Electric Co.'s NBC cable unit.

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On the Net:

http://www.bravotv.com/the-real-housewives-of-new-jersey/

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