Jill Zarin & Bobby Zarin

Jill Zarin has mellowed out and found her zen. Seriously. Jill has a sanguine new attitude about her time on Real Housewives Of New York, and accepts that life, relationships, and reality TV move on. “I do love it,” Jill says of the show, “and I know it’s so bad for me! It’s like smoking, you wanna to smoke, but you can’t because you know it’s bad for you!” 

Although she’s quick to point out that when it comes to RHONY drama – past and present – “You know what they say: All roads lead back to Jill Zarin!” Touché! 

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Speaking to the podcast Andy’s Girls, Jill reflects on her Bravo days and friendships with Bethenny Frankel and Luann de Lesseps, plus spills some great behind-the-scenes details. It’s been a wild ride! 

“It’s hard to believe the show’s still on air!” she declares. “The first season Twitter didn’t even exist!” In that 10 years there have been a lot of changes to both the show, and Jill

“There were a lot of cute, fun moments,” reminisces Jill. “But the bad stuff I could never watch again or live again. There’s lot of painful things that went on.” 

Jill On Housewives, Past & Present

The original cast was basically “six degrees of Jill Zarin” with her being the “catalyst.”

Jill and Luann are still friends. Lu actually called her during the interview, but Jill declined the call! Also, Jill is doing another gut-renovation of her apartment, and piece of art from Luann’s daughter – a portrait of a nude woman – will be included in the redesign!  

Jill and Ramona have rekindled their fraught friendship. “Ramona and I are good right now. She’s helping me with some stuff; I’m helping her with some stuff. I hope it lasts. I think that Ramona has really changed and I have too – we’re in a good place.” 

Dorinda and I were friends – not close friends. While I was on the show, in fact, she’s in an episode of season 4 with me.” (The episode where Jill’s step-daughter spoke about her facial injury). 

Jill also remains in touch with Kelly Bensimon and Cindy Barshop. “Cindy and I are very good friends. I love her. You guys didn’t get to know her because she was only on one season. There’s a lot of stuff that went on with her kids and her family situation, that I think America would have related to.” 

She loves Kristen Taekman and Jill doesn’t think it was fair she got fired. “I actually really enjoyed Kristen and her situation with her husband – I think people can relate, and – I know nothing – but I believe she would have stayed on the show with her husband, even they were going through a rough patch… Real people go through real stuff, and they’re still together. I think she could have really inspired people.” Jill praises Ramona for how she handled her divorce from Mario and is glad Bravo highlighted that. 

Jill also mentions that during a recent lunch with Aviva Drescher there was talk of her returning! “She really liked it. I don’t know where she is with talking to the producers…”  

RHONY THEN Vs. RHONY NOW: 

“I love watching it. And I’m so happy I did it, and I’m so glad I was on it when I was. Because I probably would not have come on, if it was Season 4 and I had seen the show – I never would have auditioned for it! Because it’s changed. It wasn’t what I was told. I didn’t know it was going to be what it evolved into.” 

“It has shifted,” she marvels. “It used to be about husbands and wives, and being moms, and the struggles we all faced… Then it shifted to basically being about women looking to get married again because their marriages fell apart.” 

Jill blames casting issues for having a lot to do with the changes, because the friendships aren’t organic. “Every season they have a problem finding people. I mean, look what they pulled out of the hat: Jules!” 

“Nobody knew Jules! Jules didn’t fit in. You have to bring on people the same age, or somewhere in there. She’s 31 and everyone else is 45+. She might as well call Ramona ‘mommy!'” (Jill cites Dorinda as the exception.) 

“Every season the producers go back to the same women and ask them if they’ll come on… ,” accuses Jill. “The show’s so out of control now they don’t want to be part of it.” 

Jill wagers “ten bucks” that Meghan King Edmonds and Kelly Dodd “didn’t know each other” before RHOC. “I bet the producers said to [Meghan], ‘You’re her friend now and you bring her on.’ They gotta bring ’em on somehow.”

“What happens is real,” Jill promises, “it’s just sometimes they have to have creative license to get these stories movin’ along.” 

RHONY Almost Destroyed Her Marriage: 

“The reason I left was because Bobby and I realized that I was not becoming the person I wanted to be or should be, and I needed to leave,” Jill says succinctly.

“It was like I was becoming a monster,” Jill admits. “My whole life was consumed by story lines and plot lines, and what I should do, and who I should be talking to, and plotting with. And it was just terrible. For me. It was just unhealthy.”

“It’s not good for me,” she adds candidly. “I just can’t do it.”

Jill even “politely declined” filming RHONY’s 100th episode tribute. “I even gave them a statement to please read about how much I loved being on the show… just only gratefulness, but I just didn’t want to participate in it. Because it just brings back a lot of stuff, and it was gonna be one-sided and I wouldn’t have an opportunity to rebut.” 

Jill mentions Bethenny saying “pretty nasty things” about her as an example of why she didn’t participate. “I haven’t done anything to her. She threw daggers at me, and I was unarmed. So, that’s why – I didn’t want to go into that situation.” 

Jill is emphatic she would never return – even if Bethenny left. “It has nothing to do with her. I could have come back without her there. [Jill reminds us that in his book Andy talked about the possibility of Jill returning]. It just has to do with me – it’s not good for me; it’s not good for my marriage.” 

Does RHONY Cause Divorce?

The ever-gossipy Jill gives her two-cents on Jules Wainstein‘s marriage. Jill met Jules at a cocktail party after the newbie had signed on to Real Housewives Of New York

“When I met her and her husband, the first thing I said to both of them is, ‘I hope you have a really good marriage, because if you don’t you’ll never make it.’ And they both looked at me, and in a weird way,” Jill dishes. “I did not feel confident that they had a good marriage.”

“I walked out of there and I said to my husband, ‘They are gonna end up divorced.’ I knew it…,” she exclaims. “Sometimes I get a feeling with some of the Housewives, when I meet them prior to the show, that the women are doing it to escape a bad marriage. Like I almost feel like she might have known her marriage was not for the long, and when she got this offer to do the show, she knew it was her escape financially, emotionally – being famous has a lot of perks to it. I could be wrong.” 

“You always think it’s not gonna be you,” Jill remarks, adding that Heather Thomson had to “get off” the show to save her marriage. 

SO, DID JILL REALLY QUIT?

After insisting she left to save her marriage (and herself), Jill says that during an “ADD moment” she accidentally quit. It was a blessing in disguise though. 

Following season 4, Jill was anxious “waiting and waiting” for contract negotiations to finalize, and Bobby was pressing her to plan a 3 week trip to Europe so they could reconnect. In the middle of the night, Jill impatiently sent the producers (and her castmates) an email announcing that she quit. Jill assumed producers would ignore it but, “They were pissed,” she quips.

“They did not want me to quit, they wanted to fire me. I believe that they probably would have made me an offer to stay, but because I did that they officially fired me. It actually hurt my feelings, but I did it to myself. I self-sabotaged myself.”

“I’d had mixed feelings about coming back – I wanted to come back because of the fame, and being in the drama and part of the group… ” confesses Jill. She had worked hard to rehab her relationships that season. “I came off that reunion clean. Clean, clean, clean! So they fired me because they were mad that I had the nerve the quit.” 

Jill knew everyone would accuse her of “having sour grapes” if she insisted she quit. “Whether I was quit or fired, it was my time to leave. I needed to leave,” she acknowledges.  

Jill And The Countess: 

Jill gives Luann a lot of credit for being able to bounce back from ‘friend of…’ to full-time Housewife again. “Give it to Luann – now she’s the queen!” she crows.  

Naturally Jill is invited to Luann’s wedding. “They have to get married because it’s a non-refundable three day extravaganza at the hotel,” she laughs, “so she’s definitely getting married!” 

“I really like her fiancé. Love Tom. Love him, love him, love him, love him, love him. She really got lucky….,” Jill gushes. “He’s not a fraud. He’s totally the real deal.”

Tom and Jill’s stepson are both members of a prestigious group for business presidents called YPO. Jill’s step-son, who “runs Zarin” is also friends with Tom. “To me, that gives Tom a lot of credibility,” Jill trills. 

Jill also complains that it’s “not fair” how the cast questions Luann and Tom’s relationship while withholding aspects of their personal lives. “I think not everybody is putting it out there,” she remarks, “some of the girls are not dating on TV, even though they’re dating in real life, or have secret boyfriends and such. Like take her down, but what about you!” [Ahem… BETHENNY!]

All Housewives Are Not Created Equal:

“All the shows, from what I understand are not equal,” Jill assesses. “Some shows they get paid a salary, whether they perform or not, and some shows they get paid ‘to do.’ In New York they get paid per day and then they get paid per trip.”

Jill is outraged the cast iced Sonja Morgan out of filming early in the season. “For the other girls to cause her to make no money is mean.” 

Which brings Jill to the Berkshires (the hosts asked her). “It was bad,” she sighs. She applauds Luann’s grace. “I never would’ve recovered. Unbelievable.” 

Jill explains that Luann “took” Bethenny’s verbal assault because she had to. “If she doesn’t take it, then she’s off the show,” Jill defends.

Jill phrases this next part as if it’s speculative, but it’s a read between-the-lines comment.

“It’s almost like some of these girls have the ammunition to cause these other girls to not make money,” she posits. “And they know it! So they can go so mean, so dark – and they know the other girl’s got to take it. And that’s what’s so cruel.” 

“I think when you’re on the show long enough, you all [self-produce] – especially your own stuff,” Jill sniffs. “Like you tell producers what you want to show.” 

Jill skirted around mentioning Bethenny for most of the interview, but when the Berkshires comes up, she’s forced to address Bethenny’s transition to ‘mean girl.” Jill seems disgusted both by the cruelty Bethenny was given permission to wield, and by her behavior. 

“As a viewer, I think [the Berkshires] was edited correctly. I think that I walked out with the right opinion. Which was that they were really mean girls [to] LuAnn. I don’t think Bethenny and Carole looked good by what they did. I think they looked terrible. They were mean, and they left. And they didn’t care. And they’re good with it.”

Jill & Bethenny: The Wishful Thinking Will Never Die: 

This is my favorite part of the interview – Jill basically tells everyone to get over her former friendship with Bethenny, because she is! For the first time, I actually believe she’s over being on RHONY and wistfully pining for her former glory. 

Jill really has “no idea” what she would say to Bethenny today if given the chance. “I have no interest,” she shrugs. “I miss that [friendship], but it’s never gonna happen. It’s like 10-years-later!” 

“I’m happy for Bethenny’s success. She was meant to be successful,” praises Jill. “Bethenny is gifted in so many ways – including what she’s done with Skinnygirl. She was ‘Sex And The City’ and everyone was rooting for her. It was a train that was not stopping. She had it all: she had a husband, who adored her, but also had nothing, and they were building something together. It was a beautiful thing to watch while it lasted.” 

Apparently, since season 1, Bethenny always had a plan to stay on RHONY for three seasons, because “she didn’t want to be there when the ship was sinking.” 

“I was shocked that [Bethenny] went back, to be honest,” Jill muses. “I don’t think it was a good decision.” The hosts tell Jill that Bethenny is warning everyone about how off the chain she is at the reunion. Jill is unsympathetic and wryly notes that Bethenny “always comes up with some excuse” for her bad behavior. 

Jill is done living with regrets over how it all fell apart. “I feel bad that it ended the way it did. Relationships cycle. There are things that I definitely did, that I’m sorry I did, or  I wish I could do it differently, but I can’t. I can’t unring the bell.”

“And it was meant to be that way. For whatever reason, we were meant to separate and go down different paths. And I’m really happy with my life. And I don’t think I’d still be married had I stayed on the show – I don’t think my husband could have put up with any more. I was blessed to leave.” 

Jill adds that Bobby’s health has improved too. “The show definitely would’ve made me not focus on him. I know that I made the right choice.” 

Andy Cohen is really the one responsible for me, for Bethenny – for all of our success,” Jill credits. “I thank him all the time. He’s the one who said, ‘Pick that girl!’ I’ll always be grateful for him.” 

And there we have it – The New Jill. I think she actually came across really well on the interview and I’m impressed. She actually DID sound more zen and accepting. I like it… 

TELL US – DO YOU THINK JILL HAS FINALLY MOVED ON? WERE YOU SURPRISED HOW OPEN SHE WAS?

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