By Lori Acken
If you were like me, the ultimate pleasure of watching Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey wasn’t watching Danielle get her perpetual whackadoodle on, or Theresa get her this-may-lead-to-trouble shop on, or anything out there like that.
It was seeing all the fabulous upscale-boho things in Dina Manzo’s wardrobe and getting little glimpses into her treasure-filled house, with a rooster here and a buddha there and an antique chandelier to spotlight it all. While the other Housewife Homes made for the type of backdrop Housewife-franchise watchers have come to expect, Dina’s felt like a home you wanted to go to. And keep. And Dina seemed like a lady you’d like to have in your corner. And your social circle.
So for those of us who’ve spent the last two years missing that ultimate rarity — a warmly compelling reality star who flatly refused to surrender her positive energy and true sense of self for the sake of staying on TV — I’m happy to report that Dina’s back. And she’s having a party.
Well, actually, lots of them.
On Sept. 15, HGTV will debut Dina’s Party, which spotlights the talents of Ms. Manzo and the staff of her event-planning company Designer Affair as they create baby showers, weddings, grad parties and more that celebrate the person being feted as much as the occasion.
“It’s coming up on two years since I left [Real Housewives of New Jersey] and I really had no intention of going back on TV,” Manzo says. “I was going back to work little by little and really enjoying it, and the opportunity came to me. So I just discussed it with my husband — and I had to explain to him what HGTV was because he just works all day along and he doesn’t realy watch TV — and I told him what a wonderful network it is. And as a designer, that’s my bible; I run home and that’s always what’s on my TV. So to be part of the HGTV family – I have to pinch myself.”
The very private Manzo is so comfortable with the freedom and the format that the network offered her that she’s invited the cameras into her home [swoon!], from which Designer Affair operates, so if you’re hoping for a few more glimpses of hairless feline diva Grandma Wrinkles — and a new addition, her two-legged canine sibling Gracie — you’re very much in luck. Manzo’s charmingly comical daughter Lexi will pop in from time to time, too. It’s the Dina viewers loved to love doing what she loves best.
“The answer might have been no for a lot of different networks,” Manzo says of her return to TV, “because I really don’t love being in the public eye. But I love what I do, I love design, I love event planning and I love HGTV. So it was a no-brainer!”
See the September issue of Channel Guide Magazine for more on Dina’s Party and our exclusive chat with Dina Manzo.
Real Housewives of New Jersey photo credit: Bravo
Dina’s Party photo: © 2011, Scripps Networks, LLC./Todd Plitt