Former Real Housewives of New Jersey cast member Dina Manzo appeared on Heather McDonald's podcast "Juicy Scoop" recently, and over the course of two episodes, she dished on her feud with her older sister, Caroline. In a no-holds-barred interview, the normally reticent Dina Manzo provided details on the manner in which the original cast of The Real Housewives of New Jersey came together, the true circumstances of her conflict with fellow former cast member Danielle Staub, and her feelings about her sister, past and present.
"I've always kept quiet for all these years because I'm a true, firm believer that everything always surfaces in the end," Manzo told McDonald. "And now s--t is coming up."
McDonald inquired into one of the most controversial topics of the first season of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," which was the book written about Staub titled Cop Without a Badge. The book chronicled Staub's criminal past. Staub and Manzo battled throughout the first season over this, with Staub alleging that Manzo spread the information in the book to embarrass her. Manzo revealed on Juicy Scoop that it was actually her sister Caroline who was responsible for showing the book to other people, and the infamous final scene in which Caroline instructs Staub to address her accusations to her rather than Dina was far more dramatic behind the scenes than in front of the camera.
"Caroline and her friend went and got the book from the library," Manzo said, adding that her sister would often show the book to others and discuss the contents, even when the show was not filming. "There was a conversation that took place...I knew something was going down. The heat was bubbling, I was getting blamed for it...I told Caroline, 'you better have my back.' "
Dina continued that she did not want Caroline to take the blame for airing the book's contents; she only wanted Caroline to state that it was not Dina. When Caroline dramatically told Staub, "It was me" in the final scene, it led to speculation that she was protecting her younger sister out of a strong sense of family loyalty.
Dina told McDonald that this perception angered her because Caroline was simply relaying the truth. "That scene is famous, but in my opinion for all the wrong reasons," she said. "She wasn't being this protective, maternal sister...she was just saying the truth."
This was the beginning of the downfall of their relationship. To add insult to injury, Caroline Manzo has achieved great commercial success based on the public persona fostered in this first season of a fiercely loyal, family-oriented woman, including multiple endorsements and a Bravo spin-off entitled Manzo'd With Children chronicling the shenanigans of Manzo, her husband,and their three children.
Dina also revealed the true story behind another iconic moment from the first season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and that was the reunion moment in which Caroline tearfully accused Staub of doing something unforgivable to Dina. That something was later revealed to be Staub reaching out to Dina's ex-husband to interfere with the custody arrangement for Dina's daughter, who appeared on the show. This scandalous reveal was, according to Dina, quite different behind the scenes.
Dina explained that contrary to popular belief, she was never in danger of losing custody of her daughter, and her ex-husband did not take Staub seriously. However, given that it involved her daughter, she asked her castmates to not broach the subject on the reunion. Unbeknownst to her, the producers took each cast member except for Dina aside during the reunion and instructed them to create more drama as the women were moving toward reconciliation at the expense of exciting television. That, according to Dina, was what prompted Caroline's accusatory, "What you did" moment, in which she called Staub "shameful." Caroline was lauded once again for protecting her younger sister, but Dina said that she was silently horrified by her sister's willingness to sacrifice their relationship at the expense of dramatic television.
Dina also told McDonald that other issues have further fractured the sisters' relationship. Caroline was not supportive during Dina's second divorce from Tommy Manzo, who is the brother of Caroline's husband Albert. In a recent Watch What Happens Live appearance, Caroline divulged to host Andy Cohen that she and her sister Dina were not in a good place again, a revelation that Dina had been hoping would not be shared to spare the sisters' aging parents.
"Fame goes to people's heads very quickly," Dina said, referring to her sister Caroline. "Especially when it's overnight."
[Featured Image by Ilya S. Savenock/Getty Images]