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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: greg bennett

Manzo'd With Children Ssn 3/Ep 8 - California Dreamin'

Glenn Rowley

manzod-with-children-recap

This week on Manzo'd With Children, the family heads to LA to watch Caroline's dreams come true as a guest talk show host. Plus, Lauren's birthday celebration involves a vineyard, a bus ride and one very long zipline adventure. Read on for a full recap of the family vacation...

chris-manzo-moving

Finishing up last week's adventures in San Francisco, the Manzos and their friend Greg Bennett hit up Twenty Five Lusk for a nice family-style lunch. Once appetizers are ordered, Chris Manzo decides it's the perfect time to bring up the idea that's been bouncing around his head about potentially moving. Couching the subject in a hypothetical scenario of how the family would react if Albie Manzo were to pick up and leave New Jersey. Unsurprisingly, Caroline Manzo responds with the classic Italian mother reaction of "kill me now. Kill. Me. Now." However, the real shock for Chris comes from his dad, who bluntly expresses just how disappointed he would be if one of the kids wanted to leave the nest. See, from Caroline and Albert's perspective, they've worked hard to create a family environment that the kids would want to be a part of, and having any of them pack up and ship off to somewhere far away would be a sign that they've failed as parents. Yikes. No pressure, Chris.

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And with that, it's time for the Manzos to head to start the second leg of their trip, saying goodbye to Greg and San Francisco as they head to LA. It's officially Lauren Manzo's birthday, and Vito Scalia promises he's planned a day full of surprises for his wife (despite having to spend most the day in a large van). In fact, he dares the whole family not to be impressed with what he's cooked up by the end of the day - though his father-in-law won't be holding his breath to be blown out of the water. 

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Three hours later, the bus stops in Santa Margarita for Vito's first surprise: ziplining! A 1500-foot-high zipline over the vineyards of Ancient Peaks Winery, to be exact. As someone with a well-documented phobia of heights, this is Caroline's worst nightmare come true. Yet, being the fabulous mom she is, the Manzo matriarch is willing to conquer her fear for the sake of Lauren's birthday. Plus, the mystery of the lump in her breast has provided added motivation that she appreciates every day because, as she points out, "life is for living!" Taking a leap of faith with tears in her eyes, Caroline proves to her kids that she can do anything she sets her mind to, and they each promptly follow her down the zipline.

albie-manzo

The zipline adventure is followed by a special birthday luncheon for Lauren overlooking the vineyards, set up specifically by Vito. Points for Scalia! In fact, the scene is vaguely reminiscent of the trip to Napa featured on Season 4 of RHONJ, when the Housewives and their families celebrated Caroline's 50th birthday, but without anyone calling their wife the dreaded c-word in a mysteriously ill-timed phone call. Over lunch, the Manzo kids reminisce about how far they've all come since the early days of RHONJ. Lauren reveals that her real passion in life would've been following in her father's footsteps at the Brownstone, but Chris claims to be perfectly content with how everything in his life has turned out. However, at the end of the day, Caroline and Albert are proud of the family unit they've built - no matter what happens with her health scare, the Manzo mom can't say she has any regrets of not doing enough as a family.

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The next day, having finally arrived in LA, it's time for Caroline's big day co-hosting FABLife. For some reason, the daytime chat fest only gave Caroline one seat in the audience, so she chooses to bring Chris with her - proving possibly once and for all that he's the favorite child. Caroline is nervous as the car pulls up to the studio, but this moment is a dream come true for her so she's going to soak it all in and just enjoy the ride. (Side note: while we see a teasing shot of her on the show's poster, Bravo superfan, walking goddess and FABLife co-host Chrissy Teigen is sadly nowhere to be found. You missed a perfect opportunity for a very meta crossover moment, Bravo!) It turns out the episode Caroline is co-hosting is the show's Mother's Day special, which is something she may have a teensy bit of experience in. And she knocks it out of the park, chatting with the hosts, cracking jokes and distilling her motherly wisdom on the masses of daytime TV watchers. Closing the episode, Caroline reiterates her mantra from earlier in the half-hour: life is for living, so you better appreciate it while you can - and that means reaching for the stars, making your dreams happen and living life to the fullest. And what a fab life it is...

What did you think of this week's Manzo'd? Can you believe Caroline conquered the zipline? WHERE was Chrissy Teigen?? Are you ready for next week's super-sized, two-episode season finale? Tell me in the comments!

Manzo'd With Children Ssn 3/Ep 7 - I'm Ovu-Leaving

Glenn Rowley

manzod-with-children-recap

This week on Manzo'd With Children, the Manzos take San Francisco to visit their BFF Greg Bennett. While Chris contemplates making a huge life change, Lauren's keeping a secret from her mom. But for Caroline, a cloud is cast over the vacation as she harbors worries about her health. Read on for a full recap of all the California adventures...

lauren-manzo

The entire family is off to San Francisco to celebrate Lauren Manzo's birthday, but she's still furious that her husband Vito Scalia is bailing on the trip. So furious, in fact, that she's barely speaking to him as she packs. When their plane lands in San Francisco and her call to Vito goes straight to voicemail, she jokingly pretends to be an airline employee calling to inform him the plane crashed and his wife is now dead. Ok, not the funniest joke in the world, but her mother has described Lauren more than once as a "bitch on wheels" when she's angry. Don't upset Lauren Manzo Scalia, people. Especially if you are her husband and it's her birthday week.

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Caroline Manzo inexplicably happened to rent a castle she found on the internet for San Francisco leg of the trip, but before they can reach the rather unique lodgings, Chris Manzo urges the driver to pull over so he can get a view of the city. Like any good Italian mother, a petrified Caroline stays behind, but Albie Manzo follows his younger brother up the mountainside. Overlooking the city, Chris opens up to his brother that he's been toying with the idea of leaving New Jersey for a fresh start. The youngest Manzo has never truly lived away from his family or been on his own, and with the success of Oliver Brightside, he finally has a chance to make a big change. Albie's supportive of the idea, but before the conversation can get much deeper the boys are summoned back to the car by their panicked mother via a text from Lauren. Classic Italian mom moment, amirite?

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Once the family finally reaches their castle, Lauren promptly reveals to her brothers that one of the reasons she's so upset with Vito is because she's ovulating and he's not there to make a baby. Obviously, this is something no brother ever wants to hear from his sister and the boys promptly bolt with Lauren yelling after them to keep the whole ovulation thing a secret. Hmm...any bets on the chances of that? No takers? Leaving the castle behind, the Manzos finally meet up with their friend Greg Bennett, a longtime recurring figure on both this show and RHONJ (even after he moved across the country to San Francisco). In his confessional, Greg points out what a big deal this moment is. The Manzos have never actually visited him in San Francisco - they tend to never stray far from the family home, so a trip across the country is kind of a major event. 

caroline-manzo

After showing the family around his tiny apartment, Greg is ready to hit the town by taking his old friends to meet his new friends at a hipster miniature golf hangout called Urban Putt. Two t's, very San Francisco. Immediately, Lauren and Greg split off to drink with his gaggle of gay buddies, leaving Caroline, Albert and the boys to mini golf by themselves. Seeing an obvious opportunity, Albie wastes no time informing his mother that despite her slamming shots back at the bar, Lauren's mind is 100 percent on prepping her oven for a bun. Caroline is understandably taken aback and completely baffled by this news, wondering aloud why Lauren would confide in her brothers but not talk to her. Do Albie and Chris feel bad for spilling the secret? Not one bit. As Albie points out in the brothers' confessional, everybody likes spreading a juicy tidbit of gossip, right?

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The next morning it's the day before Lauren's birthday and the princess is taking her frustrations about Vito's absence out on pretty much everyone. Good thing she has no idea about the surprise she's in for, because if she did, maybe she would stop being completely nasty to her entire family. As the official start of Lauren's birthday celebration, Caroline's arranged for a tour of San Francisco and the family takes off on one of the city's iconic trolleys to see the sights. Little does Lauren know that as she's cruising past landmarks like the famous house from Full House and Knob Hill, Vito is waiting to surprise her in a jaunty captain's hat. It turns out that surprising his wife for her birthday was the plan all along and good old Vito managed to pull it off. In her confessional, Caroline asks whether the grief Lauren put the poor guy through was worth the payoff. In Caroline's (and any sane person's) view, the answer to that is obviously a resounding "NO," but who can argue with two kids in love. All that matters is that Vito's here now and Lauren can stop throwing her never-ending tantrum.

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Saying goodbye to the trolley, the family heads to San Francisco bay, where Caroline's organized an afternoon outing on a sailboat. While Albert helps hoist the sails, the rest of the group divides into pairs for some heartfelt chats. With the Golden Gate Bridge glinting in distance, Chris asks Greg if he's happy in California and confides in his longtime GBF that he's thinking of moving away from New Jersey. Out of all Christopher's friends, Greg is the only one who has successfully packed up and moved somewhere else, and his buddy encourages him to do it now while he can. However, Chris questions how his parents would feel about the prospect of him moving across the country and laments that coming out to them would be easier than telling them he's leaving. This idea is bound to go over well with Caroline and Albert. And no, for the record, Chris Manzo is not gay. 

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On the other side of the boat, Caroline pulls Lauren aside for a chat about her big pregnancy secret. Caroline questions why Lauren didn't open up to her about the baby plans, but for a second all Lauren can focus on is the fact that her brothers betrayed her by spilling the tea. She admits she wanted the whole thing to be a surprise to Caroline when she finally got pregnant, and is quite frankly bummed that it hasn't happened yet. In her confessional, Caroline admits that she understands where Lauren's coming from better than her daughter knows: she's keeping a secret about her cancer scare in order to protect her family, and maybe Lauren was doing the same thing for a different reason. Either way, Caroline promises that whenever Lauren gets pregnant, it's going to be a surprise...and a good one at that. Next week, the Manzos' California vacation continues as they head to LA for Caroline's big moment hosting a daytime talkshow!

What did you think of this week's Manzo'd? Should the Manzos be keeping their various secrets from each other? Is there a chance Chris will really move away from New Jersey? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Manzo'd With Children Ssn 3/Ep 4 - Craft Sales and Orgy Tales

Glenn Rowley

manzod-with-children-recap

This week on Manzo'd With Children, the Manzo men head to Sin City for some male bonding while Caroline takes a big step in turning her new soap-making hobby into a business. Read on for a full recap of the episode...

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It's time for the annual Manzo man trip!  This year, Albert Manzo is taking his boys to Las Vegas (where he happens to be moderating a breakout session on catering weddings) for some good old-fashioned male bonding. And since he's officially married into the family, even Vito Scalia gets an invite - though Albert insists that his new son-in-law's inclusion is strictly on a trial basis. Since the women are being left behind for the weekend, Caroline's decided to expand her soap-making hobby by entering a local craft fair. As she explains in her confessional, Caroline's dedicated her entire life to this point to being a mom. Now it's time for the evolution of the Manzo matriarch to really begin, and that starts with selling her soaps at the Sugarloaf Art Fair. 

albie-manzo-zumanity

The men make it to Vegas and are greeted by the biggest diva of the RHONJ universe. That's right folks, Greg Bennett is crashing the boys' trip! First on the itinerary are front row seats to Zumanity, the erotic Circque du Soleil at the New York - New York Hotel and Casino. Now, I can't think of anything I'd want to do less with my new father-in-law, but Vito seems particularly pumped about the idea of watching topless acrobats fly sensually around in the air. Chris Manzo chalks this excitement up to the promise of what he calls UFB, a made-up acronym standing for "unfamiliar boobie." Since Zumanity is an interactive experience, it's no surprise when the drag queen performers pull Albie Manzo onstage and promptly start pulling his shirt off and undoing his belt. However, all I can think of during the entire performance is that NeNe Leakes did it first on RHOA, honey. BLOOP!

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Back in New Jersey, Lauren Manzo pouts to her cousin Candice about feeling left out of the man trip. She doesn't understand how Vito can jump at the chance to run to Vegas for a weekend with her brothers but never takes her out anymore. The honeymoon phase certainly seems to be over for these two newlyweds. Plus, the man trip has gotten in the way of their baby plans; Lauren's ovulating while Vito's off experiencing the joys of UFB. Guess the baby-making will have to wait until next month...

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Bright and early the next morning, the guys head to the breakout session Albert is moderating while Caroline packs up her soaps and heads to Somerset, New Jersey for the craft festival. With Vito's mother Denise Scalia helping as her assistant, Caroline sets up her booth and quickly realizes she may be in over her head. Other vendors at the fair have massive displays and the Manzo matriarch clearly had no idea what a major deal this festival was. After a few awkward encounters with fairgoers turning their noses up at her soap, Caroline finally makes her first sale of the day and the customers start pouring in. It seems like Caroline's new business venture could be on its way to becoming a runaway success. 

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On their last day in Vegas, Vito bonds with Greg by revealing he and Lauren are trying to get pregnant while Chris is in for one last Sin City surprise. After the show the night before, the Zumanity performs invited the Manzos to come back the next day for a special backstage tour. What they didn't know was that the tour would involve a very special transformation for the youngest Manzo man in the form of a drag makeover. Clad in a blonde lace-front wig, stripper heels and dangly clip-on earrings, Chris is introduced by the Zumanity MC as Miss Limoncello, the "most beautiful woman in the entire world." The rest of the family can't help but die of laughter, including Caroline and Lauren, who see the big reveal via FaceTime. Now that one of the men has been morphed into a Vegas drag queen, it may be time to head back to Jersey before things get even more out of hand...

What did you think of this week's Manzo'd? Would you buy one of Caroline's soaps? Did Chris make a fabulous drag queen or what? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Manzo'd with Children Ssn 2/Ep 6 - Brothers of the Bride

Glenn Rowley

manzod-christopher-bagpipes

This week's Manzo shenanigans are all about Lauren's wild bachelorette and "snatchelor" parties. The episode starts with Caroline and Lauren discussing the impending bachelorette party being thrown by Greg as part of his "bridesman" duties. Caroline rightfully thinks a mother, daughter and penis should never be in the same room together, but Lauren insists that she wants her mom at the party. The boys too happy with being left out of the festivities as they jealously wish Lauren good luck with the hand she's been dealt, but remind her that had they thrown her party, she would have much more fun. Caroline gives out some motherly wisdom in her confessional, explaining that Albie and Chris are happy for Lauren but at the same time, their protective antennas are on high alert. Secretly the brothers just want to hold onto their sister for as long as they can.

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Sporting her biggest hoop earrings and surrounded by a bevy of nameless female friends, Lauren's ready to get the party started when Greg calls, saying he's outside with her first surprise of the night. Leaving Albie and Chris behind to pout in the kitchen, Lauren boards the party bus with a reluctant Caroline in tow, and Greg announces they're going to one of his favorite gay bars in the city for drag queen bingo. Woot? Don't get me wrong, I love a good drag queen, but should you really be playing bingo to celebrate the last night of your single life? On their way to the city, Caroline and Lauren what the boys are doing back at home.

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Having a Scottish boys' night with Albert, Vito and Rob, of course, complete with scotch tasting and bagpipes to help them get in touch with their Scottish roots. Not Italians allowed tonight! Naturally, Christopher marches downstairs in full Scottish regalia - kilt included - and starts the night off by attempting (miserably) to blow some bagpipes. The goal of the night is to be fat, drunk and Scottish! Over scotch that's way too strong, the boys wishfully predict that Lauren isn't having any fun at all at her party, and hatch a plan to kidnap her the next day for a real "snatchelor" party in Atlantic City. After all, she deserves a proper sendoff before putting herself in Scalia prison for the rest of her life. Then, Chris sends everyone running with his war cry of "they can never take our FREEDOM!" while flashing the full monty under his kilt. Thank goodness he wasn't turned towards the camera...

Meanwhile, Lauren is gleefully downing shots at her party, while Caroline observes from the sidelines. Greg is sure the night will be a blast because Lauren is a fun, giggly and lovey drunk, and he fully expects her to be overcome with emotion for how he went the extra mile - make that 3000 miles - to come all the way from California. By the end of the night, Lauren is officially plastered and ready to go sleep for the next five days.

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The next morning, the covert op is officially going down. As Greg packs a bag for Lauren upstairs, Chris and Albie explain the concept of a "snatchelor" party to Caroline. It's very simple really, all you do is snatch someone up and take them to their party. As the boys rush into Lauren's room, she's massively hung over, groggy and confused. Dragging her down the stairs in her blankets, all the bride-to-be is worried about is where they're going. Oh, and where are her shoes? With that, Greg races back into the house to grab Lauren's bag and Caroline's meatballs from the stove. Think they'll bring Lauren back in one piece?

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That night, Caroline and Albert spend the evening looking through old photo albums for pictures of Lauren that Denise can use for a montage at the wedding. With all the kids gone for the night, Caroline asks Albert if he's had a little cry yet over the impending nuptials, and he gruffly tells her his tears over his only daughter getting married are none of her business. In her confessional, Caroline says she feels lucky to have created such a close family dynamic with her kids, a lifestyle in which they all celebrate everything together. The apron strings were cut a long time ago (tell that to Albert's American Express card), but the kids still genuinely want to spend time with their parents. Caroline wishes more people would think like that.

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The kids arrive at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City and are ready to party for one of Lauren's last nights out as a Manzo. The boys have booked a gigantic suite and Rosie Pierri, Rob and a few others are already waiting for them. Let the "snatchelor" party begin! Rosie wants to know what it is they'll be snatching tonight. In the words of Chris, "you tell me, baby girl!" A strict no cell phone/no camera policy will be enforced during the night to ensure there will be no proof of the night's debauchery...besides, you know, the camera crew following them around. It's time to get sloppy because they have a wedding to ruin.

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After hitting the casino, where Albie wins a bet to have Chris come with him on a business trip to Denver, the group gets dressed up for dinner at Fin. Once seated, Lauren pulls out her contraband cell phone to start texting Vito, breaking the one major rule of the night. Besides, Chris asks, has she ever even talked to Vito? He's not that exciting. During the meal, Albie and Christopher both give touching toasts to their sister. In her interview, Lauren explains how nice it is for her brothers to have planned this party for her. Being the only girl, they easily could've blown it off as not their responsibility, but they went above and beyond to make her feel special.

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Going back to the room, Lauren's ready to call it a night when - surprise! - Vito's there! And the's decked out her suite with candles and rose petals galore. Lauren is happily shocked to see her fiancé, but Albie declares the scene to be the worst soap opera he's ever been forced to witness. This is a "snatchelor" party and those candles need to be blown out right away. Vito ruins everything! In their confessional, Albie and Chris admit that while they love to give Lauren a bad time, at the end of the day she's a good sister and they love her. Make that all of the days. Aww...