Photo Credit: Courtesy of BravoTv.com
On Monday night, Jill Zarin sat down with Andy Cohen on his late night talk show, Watch What Happens Live! (Sundays through Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET, on Bravo). The former cast member of The Real Housewives of New York City was feisty as ever, though she clearly hasn't gotten over the way she was unceremoniously dumped from the show after season 4.
After some compliments on her "great" appearance (along with some snarky probing about what surgical tweaking it required), Cohen dove right in with a big question. "What was your reaction when you found out that Sonja [Morgan], Ramona [Singer] and LuAnn [de Lesseps] were asked back to the show [last year], and you were not coming back?" he asked. This guy's never one to skirt an issue, and Zarin's never been one to practice subtlety.
"You mean that I was fired?" she said. "Let's just call it what it is." Then she turned the question back on Cohen. "I've been meaning to ask you," she said. "Why was I fired?" (You've got to hand it to this spitfire; like a true Bravo Housewife, she goes for the jugular.) Watch the confrontation here:
Cohen explained that after season 4, the network, the producers and the fans felt that the show had gotten too toxic. "The viewers were the ones that, to us, dictated that they wanted something to change," he said. Zing!
"It felt like a death," Zarin said. "It felt like my funeral. I was heartbroken. I felt like you were my parents, and when there was the Bethenny (Frankel)-Jill [conflict], I felt like you picked favorites…I don't know why you picked who you picked. I guess you could have picked any combination of women to change. But in hindsight, do you think that now, knowing that the show did not rate well without us, do you think that the fans boycotted?"
If Cohen was rattled by Zarin's aggressive show of hubris, he didn't let on. "I think that it was a really successful relaunch of the show," he said, explaining that the ratings were low out of the gate, but grew over time.
The pair revisited Zarin's downfall: "Your persona really took a hit after [season 3] when you and Bethenny [Frankel] were not getting along," Cohen pointed out. Zarin admitted that she partly manufactured her conflict with former Housewife/former BFF Frankel in the name of good TV, but that she failed to alert Bethenny of her plan. She lost the friendship, and ultimately the viewer's sympathy, in the process. Watch Zarin discuss Bethenny:
But Zarin assured Cohen that while she's no longer on Bravo, she's hardly out of the limelight, what with her "regular weekly" contributions to ABC's Good Afternoon America (currently not on the air) and a couple of television projects in the works. And she boasted that she has more Twitter followers than all of the other New York Housewives combined. Cohen then insulted her by asking whether she'd bought them. No, he really did. Watch:
Not surprisingly, Zarin didn't care for season 5, when the show carried on sans Cindy Barshop, Kelly Bensimon, Alex McCord and herself, and instead picked up with the lives of three newcomers (Aviva Drescher, Carole Radziwill and Heather Thomson).
"I feel like if you're going to bring these characters into my home, and you want me to like them, and root for them, who the hell are they?" she said. "As a viewer, you knew who I was…I think that the fans of the show miss having -- and I think that Heather was picked to be [like me]… Never saw her house. Never saw her apartment. Never saw her kids. How could she be me?"
"You think Heather was brought on to be you?" asked Cohen, who did nothing to hide his bafflement. Why, yes, that is what she thinks!
"Look, you can't replace me, Andy," she said, laughing. "You can try to replace me, but you know you can't replace me."
That may be true, but it's beside the point. The truth is, Cohen seems happy to be rid of her.