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Spinoffs & Other Shows

Recaps, opinion pieces and analysis of Bravo TV shows including Don't Be Tardy, Manzo'd With Children, Ladies of London, Tour Group, Shahs of Sunset and Southern Charm.

Filtering by Tag: children's book

Manzo'd With Children Ssn 3/Ep 9 - Holy Bologna!

Glenn Rowley

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This week on Manzo'd With Children, the Manzo boys are turning their momentum into success as Chris holds a book signing and Albie sets up a pitch meeting for Vito's new business venture. But when bombshells and roadblocks threaten to disrupt the celebrations, can Caroline hold everyone together? Read on for a full recap of this week's family drama...

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Everything's coming up roses for Chris Manzo, who's holding his very first book signing for Oliver Brightside at his hometown bookstore. Several familiar faces are in the crowd for Chris's big day, including the whole Manzo clan, Jacqueline Laurita's daughter Ashlee Holmes and RHONJ newbie Dolores Catania and her gorgeous son Frankie. Naturally, Caroline Manzo is beaming with pride over her son - the author! - and Chris is absolutely in his element reading his book to a rapt audience of kids. Now that Oliver Brightside is a bonafide success, Chris is aiming his sights higher...and further than the Jersey roots he's always known.

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After a celebratory barbecue back at the Manzo house (where Ashlee admits she was nervous to tell Lauren Manzo she was accidentally pregnant), Chris decides to finally have the difficult conversation with his mother about everything that's been weighing on his mind lately. He's considering either Nashville or New Orleans as an option for finding new and different life experiences, but when he tap dances around the news, Caroline calls him out and essentially forces his hand. Chris finally admits he's thinking of moving and while Caroline is obviously less than enthusiastic at the idea of her youngest leaving, she ultimately gives him her support in whatever decision he makes. Of course Caroline will be heartbroken if any of her kids leave New Jersey, but she also refuses to hold them back from going after their dreams. 

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Meanwhile, Albie Manzo has set up a huge opportunity for Vito Scalia to pitch his deli idea to a potential angel investor. The Manzo son-in-law is anxious to use all the new skills he picked up in etiquette class a few weeks back, but when the meeting starts, Vito immediately proceeds to knock his chair over while greeting Eric, the potential investor. That's one way to break the ice... However, once Vito actually starts pitching his idea, he's pretty impressive as he explains his idea for an old-school, authentic deli that offers the very best Italian sandwich in NYC. The investor is into it and asks the big question: how much capital would Vito need to start his new business? The answer is a cool million dollars, at which Eric hardly blinks an eye. He's officially intrigued and the meeting ends on a positive note with the promise of more follow-up in the future. Score one for Albie and Vito!

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At the same time, Caroline and Chris pay a visit to the Wayne Public Library to hunt for a copy of the latter's book in the children's section. As Caroline pulls two copies of Oliver Brightside from the "M" section, it's yet another proud moment between mother and son. Just a year earlier, they had stood in that very same spot in the library and imagined what it would feel like to see Chris's name on the front cover of a book there. What a journey from reading books in the library as a kid to where Chris is now. Caroline's son, the author! Promising to help lay the groundwork for Chris's conversation with his dad about moving, Caroline encourages him through tears to "blaze [his] trail" and follow his dreams wherever they take him - as long as he remembers to call home. 

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Arriving home from their meeting in NYC, Albie proceeds to excitedly tell Caroline about just how great everything went...until it all goes blows up in his face. During the car ride back, Vito has inexplicably had a change of heart triggered by the amount of traffic on the FDR. Huh? Before Albie can wrap his head around what's happening, Vito is mentally spiraling that he's not ready to take such a big risk with everything else going on in his life and wants to cancel the whole deal. Obviously, this bombshell gets Albie all kinds of upset since he's the one who made the connection for Vito in the first place through is budding consulting business. And Albie has a right to be upset. After all, it's not every day someone puts a million dollars out on the table as investment in a business idea. The conversation turns into a screaming match between the brothers-in-law with Albie eventually storming out of the room to figure out how to take apart the whole deal.

What did you think of this week's Manzo'd? Will Chris really leave New Jersey? Should Albie be angry with Vito? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Manzo'd With Children Ssn 3/Ep 6 - For Better or Worse

Glenn Rowley

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This week on Manzo'd With Children, an opportunity for Caroline gives the family an excuse to plan a trip to the West Coast. However, Lauren gets angry when Vito doesn't want to go and a sudden health scare for Caroline may sideline all the fun. Read on for a full recap of this week's family drama...

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The episode kicks off with Chris Manzo going on yet another completely random adventure in the name of research for his next children's novel. This time, he's enlisted sister Lauren Manzo for a kendo class in Harlem, otherwise known as the art of Japanese fencing. In her confessional, Lauren explains that this is totally something she and Chris would do together. Ya know, since they're the fun siblings who just like to go with the flow and do crazy stuff. Now, I for one don't think of the adjectives "fun" and "easy-going" when I think of Lauren Manzo, but maybe I just don't know her well enough after watching her on my TV screen for almost eight years. Also, the further Chris gets into this research phase, the more convinced I become that he's using it as an excuse to get his family to try the strangest things he can think of.

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Meanwhile, Caroline Manzo is all business, since Albie Manzo has set up a pitch meeting with the local Foodtown about selling her soaps. The genius of Caroline's business model is that she buys every single ingredient for her bath bombs, soaps and shower bombs in the aisles of the grocery store and now wants to sell it back to them as retail product. Albie does most of the talking in the meeting with the Foodtown manager, selling his mom's products so well that she can just sit back and stay humble about her newest enterprise. Since the store doesn't sell anything like handmade, custom soaps, the manager promises to think about the offer before making a final decision.

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The good news keeps coming for Caroline! Over dinner that night with the kids, she reveals that her dream of doing a talkshow somewhere has come true: she's been asked to fly out to LA to guest co-host the (now-cancelled) chat fest, FABLife. (Which, if you remember, is the extremely Housewives-friendly daytime lifestyle show hosted by Tyra Banks, Joe Zee and Bravo super-fan Chrissy Teigen. Since the show films in California, Caroline proposes they make a family trip of it and all go to LA together. Lauren is quick to point out that the trip lands on her birthday, and the princess promptly suggests they go a day early to visit buddy Greg Bennett in San Francisco. Vito Scalia, however, is on the fence about taking more time off to go to California when he just piggybacked onto the Manzo man trip to Vegas. This, of course, infuriates Lauren and the conversation spirals into bickering between the husband and wife over Vito's inability (or unwillingness) to spend time with Lauren. 

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Later, the flood of good news comes to an abrupt and frightening stop when Caroline discovers a lump on her breast while she's getting ready for bed. Consulting with her husband Albert Manzo in her robe, the Manzo matriarch reveals that the lump happens to be in the same breast she had biopsied 20 years earlier. In an attempt to calm her fears, Albert tells Caroline not to jump to conclusions or worry to much. After all, the biopsy two decades ago turned out to be benign, so there's no reason to assume the worst. However, he calls a doctor friend right then and there to set up an appointment to get the lump checked out. In the meantime, Caroline vows not to say anything to the kids or anyone else because it would just create unnecessary worry. 

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After the kids have a sibling night out in an attempt for Albie and Lauren to bond (they have a weird relationship ok?), Albie meets with his mom for a follow-up meeting with the Foodtown manager. It's more good news! Even though there's no real precedent for the product, the grocery store has decided to go into business with Caroline and sell her soaps! Now Albie has to come up with packaging, a pricing model and an actual brand for the product. But while Caroline should be over the moon at this latest development, the lump is at the forefront of her mind and she has bigger things to worry about than selling soap.

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Lauren is still angry over her argument with Vito and has resorted to giving her husband the silent treatment. Even when Vito tries cracking jokes and coaxing an "I love you" out of his wife, she responds with a curt "don't talk to me." In Lauren's mind she cannot understand why her husband of just a few months would be resistant to going to California for her birthday, but Vito reminds her that he's working at the deli every day for the sake of their future. Still, this isn't a good enough excuse for the birthday girl and she will remain mad until Vito gives in and comes on her birthday trip.

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A few days later, it's time for Caroline's doctor's appointment and the usually stoic mom is wracked with nerves. As Albert explains in the couple's joint confessional, Caroline is the rock of the Manzo family and if something happened to her, it might as well be happening to Albert too. Rather sweetly, his voice cracks with emotion as he explains how unimaginable his life would be without her by his side. As they walk hand in hand to the car to drive to the doctor's office, it's clear that Caroline and Albert Manzo's love will be able to get them through anything that will come in the future, health-related or otherwise.

What did you think of this week's Manzo'd? Should Lauren be angry with Vito? Are you worried about Caroline's health? Let me know in the comments!

Manzo'd With Children Season 3 Premiere - A Family That Scares Together...

Glenn Rowley

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Caroline Manzo and her clan are back for Season 3 of Manzo'd With Children. Incidentally, so am I, even after thinking I was Manzo'd out by the end of last season. This year, the season premiere kicks off in the most random of places as we catch up with each member of the family since we saw them last. Read on for a recap of all the hijinks and milestones...

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Out of everywhere the new season of Manzo'd could've started, the last place I would've guessed was a haunted prison in Philadelphia. However, that's exactly where we open, with the entire Manzo family headed to spend the night in the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. Now that Christopher is a bonafide children's book author, he's decided to write a middle-grade novel. Apparently, this second novel requires research in the prison and he's convinced the rest of the clan to join him on the adventure. On route to Philly, we catch up with the rest of the family members: Caroline's continued evolution has her now making homemade soap, Lauren and Vito Scalia have now been married for seven months and are still living in her parents' home in Franklin Lakes, while Albie's looming thirtieth birthday finally motivated him to find a bachelor pad in Hoboken. 

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Arriving at the prison, poor Vito is terrified out of his mind as the tour guide shows the Manzos the cell that belonged to infamous gangster Al Capone. Later, as the family members split up to search for ghosts, Christopher's adventure gets more than a little spooky. While Caroline and Albert reminisce in Cell Block 12 over how far their family has come, Albie and Christopher head off with night vision goggles and thermal cameras to look for haunted spirits. However, when the brothers seem to encounter a ghostly, human-like apparition, the family concludes this is more than they bargained for and cut the sleepover to an abrupt end. Quite frankly, I'd be running out of the haunted prison too if I thought I was seeing ghosts. 

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The next day, the family is still recovering from their terrifying visit to the prison when Caroline invites Christopher over to the house for a surprise. After months of writing and working with his publisher, the very first copy of Christopher's children's book, Oliver Brightside: You Don't Want That Penny, has arrived in the mail. Holding the physical realization of her son's dream in her hands, Caroline has a major proud mom moment and bursts into tears. Christopher lovingly dedicates the first copy to his mom, writing on the front page that Oliver Brightside never would've been possible without Caroline's help and motivation. Aww - it's a sweet moment and I can't help but be a little proud of Christopher from the comfort of my couch.

With that, the premiere ends on a positive note, and this recap is as short and sweet as any I've ever written. What did you think of the Manzo'd premiere? Are you glad Caroline and her crazy clan are back for Season 3? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below...

Ladies of London Season 2 Finale - The New Queen Bee Bikini

Glenn Rowley

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After a fabulous season full of high society moments, we've finally reached the end of the road for Season 2 of Ladies of London. However, don't worry, there's plenty that still needs to go down in this final episode. Buckle your seat belts, Brits, it's going to be quite the bumpy ride to the finish line. 

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The episode opens with Annabelle at Caroline Fleming's and both Ladies are still recovering from the trip to Denmark. Annabelle points out that everyone actually seemed to have a great time on the holiday while dealing with all the individual dramas going on. Exhibit A: the baroness managed to make up with Marissa over dinner at the castle (hopefully for real this time). Exhibit B: Annabelle still feels that Julie isn't being a supportive friend and has vowed to talk with her about the issues brewing between the besties. Talk about perfect timing - Julie and Juliet arrive just as the sentence escapes Annabelle's lips, ready to join the girls for lunch. As they take their seats at the table, Julie can already feel the tension in the air. 

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However, the first hit comes from a source she probably wasn't expecting as Caroline Fleming probes about the trip. When Julie says she loved it, CF does some kind of bait and switch and claims she heard Julie was talking about her behind her back, questioning why such a "terrible person" would be joining their group of friends. Umm...what? Julie's obviously taken aback by this accusation, which came courtesy of Caroline Stanbury. Flustered, she admits to making the comment, but insists that it was months ago, back when she barely knew the Danish beauty. I'm sensing a pattern that clearly Caroline Fleming likes to hold onto things. Watching from the sidelines, Juliet points out in her interview that she's always had an inkling that it's not all love and light with the baroness - there's a punchy, dark side to her too, so don't piss her off.

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Now that Caroline Fleming's gotten the ball rolling, Annabelle jumps on the bandwagon, saying that she knows where the baroness is coming from since people seem to have plenty of opinions about her that they don't say to her face. Sensing the shade, Julie asks why the dig felt directed at her and Annabelle seizes her opportunity to explain that there seems to be a disconnect between the Julie who's been her best friend and the person sitting across the table from her now. Annabelle admits that she has been deeply struggling with the five year anniversary of McQueen's passing, and the fact of the matter is that Julie hasn't come around or checked on her. Annabelle's feelings are hurt, and it seems it was more important to Julie to be getting in good with the other Ladies than to support her BFF. To defend herself, Julie whips out proof of a long apology text on her phone, pointing out that she's been there for Annabelle consistently in the past. Is the one time she wasn't there big enough to rip their entire friendship apart? Caroline Fleming attempts to mediate between the two as Julie starts sobbing and apologizing from "the bottom of [her] heart" with a litany of excuses about how she's just been so busy and can't be a good enough friend.

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Immediately after the disastrous lunch, Julie meets Marissa for some white wine spritzers and a rehash of the fight with Annabelle. Julie explains that she specifically reached out to Marissa because she has the best relationship with Annabelle out of all the women in the group. Being stuck in the middle is never easy, but Marissa can empathize with both of them. From her perspective, Marissa explains that maybe Annabelle can't understand all the strains and demands on Julie as a wife, mother, budding entrepreneur, etc. On the other hand, Annabelle may feel like she's losing Julie and has a bone to pick with Caroline Stanbury about it. The one thing Marissa knows for sure is that Julie's grown a pair of balls and they look good on her.

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Meanwhile, Caroline Stanbury is at home adjusting to life without Gift Library. In her confessional, the reigning queen bee admits that she gets that her life is easy, she has a rich husband and lives in a nice house. However, the presence of a safety net doesn't make losing the company she started from scratch any easier. In England, women are raised to believe that they'll marry a banker or businessman and then stay home raising the kids, but tradition was never in the cards for Caroline Stanbury. Later, Annabelle meets up with Marissa at Bumpkin to plan the book reading for the first Me Me Me's book. Marissa asks how things are between Annabelle and Julie. After all, last she'd heard there had been tears. Annabelle admits that Julie's floodgates opened during the fight, but felt the conversation needed to happen. 

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The next day, Caroline and Annabelle meet for a sit down full of ultimatums. Apparently, all the girls have each come to Caroline individually to complain about how Annabelle "ruined" the trip to Denmark, so the queen bee has taken it upon herself to deliver the news to her frenemy. Caroline insists that she wants Annabelle to have a good time with the group and throws out an ultimatum: change your attitude or leave. Annabelle admits that when life gets hard, her first reaction is to shut down and retreat, but that she tried to open up as much as she could in Denmark. Caroline claims that she doesn't want Annabelle to cut ties, but leaves it up to her to decide whether she wants to lose all the Ladies as friends. This seems very dramatic considering that Annabelle is the one going through a difficult time. Caroline explains that she's throwing a pool party to celebrate "friendship and girl power" and hopes that a new and improved Annabelle will make an appearance. Plus, it's an excuse to have lots of hot guys in swim trunks.

For Annabelle's book reading, Bumpkin has been turned into the Me Me Me's world, complete with decorations and a kid-friendly menu. In addition to Marissa, who's hosting the event, Julie, Juliet and Sophie all show up with their kids to support Annabelle's big debut. Julie can still sense a distance between her and her BFF, but it's certainly not the appropriate time to broach the subject. As Annabelle reads her book to the kids, Juliet explains via confessional that it's awfully nice to watch the budding author get into her stride and see the work resonate with the kids. Annabelle herself admits that she's proud of making her dream come true and believes that she really does need to open herself up more. Maybe Caroline was right after all?

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The night of Caroline's winter pool party is at hand and all the Ladies show up in their best tropical garb, with halter tops, swimsuits and minidresses galore as they're geeted by shirtless swimsuit models. Caroline makes sure to fill all the women in on her conversation with Annabelle before she arrives sporting legs for days in a stunning one-piece swimsuit. Julie and Annabelle are still skating on thin ice around each other and both are finally ready to put this drama to bed once and for all. Pulling Julie into the kitchen for a chat, Annabelle explains that she doesn't want anything to change between them. However, she started to see changes in Julie in Denmark and needed to express how she felt. For her part, Julie apologizes for being selfish, admitting that she was really just being there for herself and not for Annabelle. The two hug it out and Julie explains in her interview that when you love a friend as much as she loves Annabelle, it's important to show your true feelings and work things out. (As for whether this truce lasted, Twitter tells a very different story.)

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Caroline gathers all the Ladies and other guests to the pool to deliver a funny, heartfelt speech saying that they really are all like family to her, and she can't wait to spend the next who-knows-how-long making memories with them. Now, let the naughtiness begin! As the Ladies jump into the pool and get the real party started, we get final thoughts from each of them. Julie hasn't managed to save Mapperton yet, but she's on her way and focusing on being the best version of herself she can be. Marissa's busy growing her family (she's pregnant again!) and Top Dog, determined as ever to have it all. Caroline Fleming is finally at peace with herself, and hopes her journey will help inspire other people. Juliet's been busy working on her blog, which has given her a voice and a passion for fashion...and maybe keeping her out of trouble. Annabelle signed a deal to publish more books in the Me Me Me's series and celebrated with a party at the Hotel in NYC. As for Caroline Stanbury? The queen bee doesn't know what's next for the group of Ladies, but she's going back to the drawing board. And that, my friends, is a wrap on Season 2 of Ladies of London!