Natalie DiDonato and the girls from the final season Brittany and Marissa.
Oh, yeah, I forgot about them. The other Natalie was actually really happenstance. She really was in Philly doing makeup and really came to us knowing Natalie Guercio and having a bone to pick with her. She came on and we interviewed her to see if she would fit in but she wasn’t deeply entrenched with any of us at the time.
Marissa’s boyfriend actually went to kindergarten with me and lives up the block from me. His first cousin was my first boyfriend, so then I would go eat over their house like everyday. His older cousins were- my older sister babysat for him and his older cousin. It’s all an intertwined world.
Did it become harder over the years to find people that were organically connected?
I would say 95% of it was organic. It started to become harder towards the end because although there were a boatload of women that we could have picked from, not everyone was allowed to do it, not everyone wanted to do it. So in that sense, yes, but if this was an open forum, I could’ve cast Mob Wives for days.
You and Karen have remained real-life friends throughout the years?
Has it been hard maintaining your friendship with her and wearing a hat as producer with all the drama that she and Drita have had on the show?
So after Karen brought Drita into the fold, I then became super close with Drita and when Karen moved to Arizona, she and I remained friends, but Drita was here every day. Me and Drita became super, super close. We used to take her daughter and my son, I have pictures of them when they were one years old of my son kissing her daughter’s face. We used to go to the zoo together, everything. So me and Drita became close as well. So it became very difficult for me, when the two of them went into this all out war, so to speak.
You have to understand, I was both the producer while we’re filming but then when we’re not, I was both of their friends. When the cameras are off, I’m going to clubs and dinner with Drita. The next night I’m out with Karen and, she’s telling me this, and Drita’s telling me this and they’re both trying to make me pick a side, not only as the producer but as the friend. [Over the years] I’m doing my absolute best to remain neutral on both levels. And at times, they have both accused me of taking one over the other. Drita swears I favor Karen, Karen swears I favor Drita. Even my sister Renee swears, for years [that] I favored Drita. Then it was Big Ang. It’s just difficult, everyone wants to be the center of attention and everyone wants to be the star. I guess they all at one point or another looked at me as favoring one over the other.
When Karen and Drita had an all out war, there was a time where I just had to step back, and be like okay, Drita you’re acting ridiculous, Karen you’re acting ridiculous. [The show] took a huge toll on mine and Drita’s friendship because I guess she got to a point where she felt because I was friends with Karen longer, we had more family history, whatever the reason may be, she felt that I chose Karen over her. So we had a huge falling out and then there were contract issues. I think all [the women of the cast] didn’t understand the business of it and I think they all, especially Drita, felt that I could whip out the VH1 checkbook out of my back pocket and write them a check for whatever they wanted. When they didn’t get what they wanted, they blamed me. Everyone was forgetting, that after season one, I’m the one that helped negotiate them a 50% increase, so everything, when it was good I was the best, when it was bad, I was the worst.
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