With the Real Housewives of New Jersey back on air, tons of rumors have surfaced about the biggest star of them all, Teresa Giudice. Teresa Giudice’s BFF Heather Maclean has took some time to talk to AllAboutTRH and clear up a lot of the ridiculous rumors that have been surfing the internet. Heather has also been accused of writing Teresa Giudice’s blogs and finally speaks out on it. Heather tells us how Bravo works, the status of Melissa and Teresa’s relationship and responds to Melissa saying the show hasn’t affected her family!
AllAboutTRH: How do you know Teresa Giudice?
Heather Maclean: Teresa is like a sister to me; she’s one of my best friends. I’ve known her for almost five years now. Our families have vacationed together. My 7-year-old son thinks Milania is his girlfriend. My husband’s been to Atlantic City with Joe. I talk to Teresa maybe 10 times a day, every day. I adore her and adore her family. People who know me know I do not suffer fools gladly, so the fact that I’ve been so close to Teresa for so long says a lot about who she really is. And she’s one of my favorite people ever.
I met Teresa a few months after RHONJ started airing, before it really blew up. I was on a reality TV show in 2005, and it was the best and worst experience of my life. When I got back, I started my career in publishing, and so I reached out to Teresa to let her know I knew what she was going through and about to go through, and that I would be willing to help her get into publishing as well to secure a future beyond reality TV.
I could have reached out to anyone on the cast, but she really struck me. It was so refreshing to see someone on TV who love-love-loved her husband and her life so much. Before RHONJ, the Housewives spent a lot of time bitching about their lives. Her energy was just infectious.
So I called her up, and we just hit it off right away. We have a lot in common — we’re the same age, we’re both from loud Italian families, we both had 3 kids (she didn’t have Audriana yet), I went to college in Jersey, so I’m kind of a Jersey girl…
Eventually, I helped her get an agent and a book deal, and she told the publisher she wouldn’t write the book without me. It’s extremely rare that friends work together in publishing — the publisher usually hires a writer and editor for you, but Teresa insisted on working with me. That’s the kind of person she is: crazy loyal and generous. It’s been 4 books now and we’re still best friends!
There have been rumors from Melissa’s camp that you write Teresa’s blogs. Is there any truth to that?
That Melissa has a “camp” is so funny to me. Teresa doesn’t have anyone doing her dirty work — not a nanny, not a manager, not an assistant, not even a PR person. Now that I think about it, was Teresa the first Housewife with young children *not* to have a nanny? LuAnn had one, Camille had three, Tamra, Alexis, Bethenny, Melissa… Even though they made fun of her for it, Teresa made raising your own children cool, and I love that. Now they all hide their nannies or pretend they never had one (“foreign exchange student”… I die!). So anyway, no I don’t ghostwrite Teresa’s blogs. I don’t ghostwrite anything. A ghostwriter is a secret, uncredited writer, and I’m credited on everything I write or edit. To Teresa’s credit, she’s never been insecure about having a co-author — she’s always talked about it, even on “Celebrity Apprentice.” You’d be crazy to not work with a professional on a major book, especially if you want it to be successful!
Teresa knows every word of her blog is going to be scrutinized though, so she does run her thoughts and ideas past other people to make sure they sound good. She generally watches the episodes with her friends in person or over the phone and gets their third person feedback. She talks about what bothered her in the episode, if she’s being too sensitive, whether she should say something this way or that. I think it’s very smart, and I would do the same thing if I were her. Wouldn’t you?
I will say I only think this question comes up because people don’t give Teresa enough credit for how smart she is. She speaks two languages fluently, still talks primarily Italian with her mom and dad, and thinks in Italian. When you do that, you end up mixing up words. With her blog, she has time to think and write it down correctly. It’s not rocket science, it’s a blog!
How do you feel after watching Teresa’s relationship with her brother?
Nothing makes me happier than seeing them back together because I know how much she adores him. He’s her only brother. She would do anything for him.
How exactly does Bravo work?
Wow, that’s a good question. How to even begin to answer that… Let’s see, I worked with a lot of different networks, but they’re all pretty much the same: they want great entertainment as cheaply as possible. I did the “Road Rules” pilot for MTV (where I starved), “Rebel Billionaire” for Fox (where I almost died), and I’ve been around for a lot of Housewives filming (I’m still recovering). I’ve sat in Caroline’s living room while they filmed a scene in her kitchen, I was at the Posche Fashion Show where Teresa was forced to confront Danielle (I was crying in the corner), and I filmed the food photo shoot for “Skinny Italian” with Teresa.
I think the best way to describe reality TV is “real people put into unreal situations.” They cast interesting people, but filming them in their normal lives is never going to be interesting enough, so the producers amp up the drama. They’ll tell you, “This is boring! I’m falling asleep! No one’s going to watch unless you guys do something dramatic!” They don’t necessarily give you lines, but they will definitely give you suggestions, or tell you want they need you to say “for storyline,” but to go ahead and “say it in your own words.”
To clarify though, Bravo is the network that airs the shows, but they don’t film or edit them. They have a say in editing and what they’re looking for, but the production companies are the ones who create everything you see on TV.
Every Real Housewives show has a different production company: NY has Shed Media, BH has Evolution, Atlanta has True Entertainment, and NJ has Sirens. And every production company has their own internal culture. You can get a feel for what they are used to producing from their other shows. Shed did “Super Nanny,” Evolution did “Big Brother,” True worked with Oprah, and Sirens did a bunch of crazy crime shows “Panic 911,” “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?,” “Deadly Affairs,” “The Nightmare Next Door”… That should tell you something about the “stories” Sirens creates. 😉
To be fair, the producers try and get as much of a real story as they can, but it’s almost impossible. Have you ever heard of the Heisenberg effect? It’s the idea that nothing can be purely observed because the very act of observing something changes it. The minute a camera shows up, reality changes. Producers can’t film in a place without getting prior permission from the location and everyone in it. And not everyone in a cast member’s life will agree to be on TV. Their parents might say no, kids from a previous marriage might not be allowed, so you’re never going to get a true and complete picture.
What were your thoughts on Caroline being upset with Teresa regarding her remarks on the cookbook about Caroline’s children?
I thought Caroline was absolutely, totally faking it for storyline. Producers were dying to have a Caroline vs. Teresa story, but neither of them had any beef with the other. I don’t know who suggested it to her or if it was her idea, but it was ridiculous. Caroline ignores the actual stated compliments for her kids in the book — “Albie and Christopher Manzo are adorable” — and feigns outrage at a joke about Teresa’s girls not wanting to work at a stripper carwash? It made no sense. The stripper carwash was a part of their storyline the season before, and Caroline was all proud of it. It was obviously a joke, and a joke Teresa was making at her own expense.
Was the Olive Garden comment intentional?
The Olive Garden comment wasn’t even from Teresa! Or me! It was made up by a “Rachel Ray Show” producer. I was on the phone with Teresa when she was backstage at Rachel Ray. She called me because they wanted her to say a funny “insult” to Caroline about her cooking, and she couldn’t think of anything. I couldn’t either! So there you have it: neither one of us could even think of a fake insult about Caroline! One of the producers said: “How about, ‘Caroline’s as Italian as the Olive Garden.'” It was such a non-insult and silly, so she went with it. The episode taped, the episode aired, no one said boo. Caroline fake insulted Teresa and her cooking, and Teresa’s scripted rebuttal was the Olive Garden comment.
I think one of the things that make Teresa’s cookbooks so successful is that she is so conversational, and she tells stories. Being on Rachel Ray was a recent story about Teresa’s life when we were writing the introduction. But just to make sure Caroline didn’t think it was a new joke from Teresa, we even wrote that it was from the Rachel Ray show in the book! And Teresa picked a huge, beautiful photo of Caroline to put in the book over the caption: “me and another famous Italian mom, Caroline Manzo.” So Teresa repeated the already-tested and approved Olive Garden joke, said very clearly that it was from Rachel Ray, and then gave her own opinion of Caroline: she’s an Italian mom. There was absolutely no confusion. For someone as supposedly smart as Caroline to pretend to be insulted was frankly, insulting. Especially since she and her family are known for being such jokers themselves.
Have you ever met Melissa Gorga?
Yes, only once, before she was on the show. She was very different back then. I went to the Beatstock summer concert with Teresa, Gia, and my daughter. Teresa, Jacqueline and Caroline were asked to be there to introduce Pit Bull and Enrique Inglesias. It wasn’t for Bravo, it wasn’t filmed, it was just a fun summer event, and our girls got to go backstage and meet some rock stars. When we were walking through the crowd to get to our seats, we ran into Joey and Melissa who were sitting right on the aisle. Teresa introduced us, and invited them to come sit up front with us, but they said they were with Melissa’s sisters and declined. Later, Joey showed up in our row, grabbed Gia, and threw her on his shoulders and danced with her. He reminded my daughter of her own uncle — fun, sweet, and goofy.
What was the vibe you got from Melissa?
She was really quiet–nothing like the big fake lashes, and over-the-top everything that she is now. She didn’t have a lot of make-up on, and actually seemed kind of shy. Or maybe it was just disinterested. I definitely didn’t get an “I’m into music” vibe. It’s amazing that a year later she was up on the stage herself… TV is magic!
How are Melissa and Teresa doing now?
I can’t speak for Melissa, but I know Teresa truly believes in her heart that things are good. She’s completely let go of the past and just wants to move forward with her family.
How does Teresa feel when she hears Joe Gorga say that Caroline Manzo and Melissa Gorga’s sisters are the sisters he’s never had?
I don’t think it bothers her because she knows it’s just for the show. You can’t get upset about one edited comment from months ago.
Melissa Gorga says she and Teresa had a horrible relationship prior to the show? Is there any truth to that?
Every relationship, especially with in-laws, is going to have its up and downs, but I think their differences have been greatly exaggerated for the show. Before the show started taping, they never missed a single Christmas together. When Melissa joined the show, Antonia was only 5 and Gino was 3. Joe Giudice is Antonia’s godfather, and two years later, Melissa picked Teresa to be Gino’s godmother. They obviously weren’t in a horrible relationship for years and years.
What are your thoughts on Melissa saying that the show hasn’t affected her family in any way?
I just don’t understand that at all. How could you say it didn’t hurt your family unless you don’t count your in-laws as family? You’ve been married for 8 years and live 5 minutes from them, and you don’t count your mother-in-law, your father-in-law, your nieces, your goddaughter? Because it definitely hurt all of them, and more than just a little. And they were only hurt when she came on the show! It hurt her own husband too, not talking to his family for a year. I want to say she must have been drunk or something, but it’s not the first time she’s said this “my family” thing, is it? It boggles my mind how she thinks.
There were rumors that Teresa doesn’t have any friends. Is there any truth to that?
Teresa is one of those really magnetic people who makes friends instantly and keeps friends forever. She’s just the most fun, sincere, and hilarious person to be around. Her husband Joe’s the same way. His charm doesn’t even come close to translating on camera. Everyone who meets him in person loves him. They have tons of friends; their house is filled with people all the time–it’s like an open door over there.
I think you don’t hear about her friends because they are business people and professionals who don’t live on Twitter and don’t have any interest in being on TV. I think Sirens has begged every one of Teresa’s friends to be on the show, but we’ve seen the downsides of what Teresa’s been through. No sane person would sign up for that willingly.
What are your thoughts on Melissa writing an advice book?
I wish her all the best! I don’t understand competitiveness or snobbery among authors. Anyone who wants to write a book should. If it’s good, people will buy it and tell their friends. Publishing a book is a dream come true, and I think everyone should try if they want to. I actually walk you through the whole process on my own website: how to get an agent, how to write a proposal, how much authors get paid. If you’ve ever wanted a write a book, check it out!
Any truth to Teresa spin-off?
I know that as soon as there’s news, Teresa will announce it to her fans the minute she can!
Very, very interesting. What are your thoughts on what Heather revealed?