Dorinda Medley on Her 'RHUGT' Drama With Vicki Gunvalson and That 'RHONY' Reboot (Exclusive)
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"East coast, beast coast!" Dorinda Medley exclaims, a short but (not-so?) sweet phrase to explain her tension with her The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives Club co-star Vicki Gunvalson.
The two Housewives alums -- Dorinda from The Real Housewives of New York City, Vicki from The Real Housewives of Orange County -- have been locked in a social media back and forth as of late, after Vicki made comments about Dorinda's home, known as Bluestone Manor, being "old" and "in the middle of nowhere" and not her taste. The Massachusetts estate serves as the backdrop for season 2 of Ultimate Girls Trip.
"Bluestone Manor, that old place in the middle of nowhere?" Dorinda cracks. "What is the Boston Symphony thinking about? What's Tanglewood thinking about? To think that The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton was written in this terrible area. Who would've thunk it?"
"I'm lucky enough to have this as my second home," she adds. "So everybody knows that I live in New York City and I come up here on the weekends to entertain, cook, clean, decorate, entertain, and I don't want to be out dancing on tables and whooping it up."
"Whooping it up" is, of course, Vicki's catchphrase, a nod to her penchant for dancing on tables at a Puerto Vallarta bar called Andale's. There's no place like that in the Berkshires, a pill that proves hard to swallow for the insurance saleswoman.
"My mother always said, 'If you don't want to be somewhere, go home.' Very simple," Dorinda reflects. "I think if you don't want to be there and you really don't want to participate at that level and you're miserable in a place, I would just leave."
"I just think if you're going to come and film a show and you agree to do, it and you sign the contract, and you collect the money, you have to sort of engage don't you?" she adds. "f you don't want to do any of this stuff, then what are we doing here? I'll go to bed."
After Vicki took the first shot, Dorinda fired back -- strong -- going on her RadioAndy show to call out Vicki for "dating people who fake cancer," a low blow to the OG of the OC, who spent years entangled in a relationship with a man named Brooks Ayers, whom Vicki claims "conned" her.
"Here's the thing: This is what amazes me about her is that, you can't sort of say that and not expect someone like Dorinda Medley not to clap back," she notes. "That would be the real weird thing. Imagine if I was just like, 'Oh, well...'"
This is all an escalation of tension first started while filming RHUGT last fall.
"I think you can see even in the first couple episodes, she just doesn't want to lean into it," Dorinda explains. "Even if it is or it's not her taste, there seems to be a sort of a negativity towards it now. And to be going on about, in texts to me, that it was 'gifted to you' or whatever. I just find the sentiment towards it very negative. It wasn't, frankly, gifted to me. My husband died and we owned the house together, so I don't know where else it would've gone unless he had some sort of mistress I didn't know about, you know what I mean?"
Dorinda claims to have received "thousands of texts" from Vicki in the wake of her clap-back on the radio. She's mostly ignored them, she says, because it's not worth her energy.
"I don't feel any animosity towards her," she shares. "I just don't think we're of like women. I don't tend -- especially after COVID -- I don't really want to hang around people that are not of like mind. She has her friends. I have my friends. She can go to Andale's. I'll go to Bluestone Manor. You know what I mean?"
"We try to find our common space, Vicki and I, but at the end of the day we're just very different people, I think from top to bottom," Dorinda teases of what viewers will see on RHUGT. "We're very different women. I think what I value, she doesn't value. What she values, I don't really value. And I think that I'm very blessed, and sometimes people can't get their head around that and they want to maybe not lean into it a little bit."
"Listen, I've got a great life, I've got a home here, a beautiful place in New York City, and I don't know..." she continues. "I just don't know if it was about me or if it's about she's just sort of not in a happy place right now, or wasn't certainly, which you can see in the first couple episodes. She just generally doesn't feel happy to be here, period, from the time the gates open to the time she leaves."
Dorinda says Vicki never gave the Massachusetts mountain town a fair shot, which really irked the RHONY star, seeing as it's not just her vacation spot, it's her hometown. The rest of the cast -- including Vicki's RHOC BFF Tamra Judge, Dorinda's fellow RHONY star Jill Zarin, The Real Housewives of Atlanta's Phaedra Parks and Eva Marcille, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Taylor Armstrong and Brandi Glanville -- all seemed to embrace spending the week just hanging out in Dorinda's neck of the woods.
"I was really looking forward to spending time with Tamra and Brandi, because I know them, and Jill of course," Dorinda shares. "I knew Phaedra because we had actually been on Watch What Happens Live together, but I didn't know her well, and it was years ago. And actually we both forgot about that. I've always watched her for years, and I always liked the way she interacted and the way she just has those funny one-liners, those quip bits. She's very much like me, I thought, in a way, and she is very much like me: Strong, funny, soft as well. She was the only-- she and Eva were the only ones in the group where I really felt like when I was getting really exhausted or overwhelmed, I could kind of knock on their door and lay down and just be like, 'This is really, it's a lot for me.' I felt safe with them."
Dorinda planned almost everything the women did, which leads to some tension when activities don't go perfectly. Dorinda earned the nickname "Dor-nado" for her sudden stress-induced outbursts.
"I always say, 'When I'm good, I'm great. When I'm bad, I'm terrible,'" she offers, "and I don't do well when I get tired, and I don't do well when I get unappreciated, and I don't get well when I drink too many martinis. That combination is a Dor-nado."
"I think that there was a lot of pressure put on me to keep the whole thing moving and have one activity after the next," she goes on to explain, "and I think a lot of times I really didn't even want to do it. I wanted to just lay down. So to constantly be the cheerleader I just felt like was really a big responsibility. But I actually thought most of the girls were good at the activities."
While most of the women met or exceeded her expectations, Jill joined Vicki in the disappointment department for Dorinda. The two have known each other for years, but never starred on RHONY together at the same time. Jill exited the show after season 4, while Dorinda joined in season 7.
"You're going to see that Jill and I go through something you wouldn't expect," she reveals. "We have some really deep discussions about our relationship and how we perceived it to each other, and we definitely resolved and had to work through that, but that was hard. And I'd never filmed with Jill."
The trailer hints at these issues, as Dorinda essentially tells her friend that she joined the show in a world far removed from Jill's time on it; Jill seemingly takes credit for getting Dorinda on the show.
"I think she kind of felt like she was responsible for getting me on the show and almost like I owed her something because of it," Dorinda says. "There was this kind of weird feeling that maybe I was unappreciative about that. The truth of the matter is ... I was part of that whole mix from the beginning. And that's why it was so easy for me to, after [my daughter] Hannah went to college, to come and be a Housewife after [my husband] Richard passed, because it was almost like I had already been there for years."
Eagle-eyed fans have made it a small sport during rewatch binges to spot Dorinda in the background of group events in the early seasons.
"I'd been going to Jill's events for years, yeah, [but] Jill never introduced me to a producer or set up a lunch or anything," she says. "Would I attend her events as I still do today? Yes. But the one who really introduced me and made the connection was Ramona [Singer]. ... That was something that I didn't realize she felt hurt about."
"Ramona just said, 'I think you should interview with some of the casting people and see if you want to do it...' It wasn't some big deal," she continues. "I didn't even know I wanted to do it at the time. But then I had the interview, they called back, and it just sort of happened very naturally. It wasn't a big sort of process that I earmarked as, 'Oh, you get a gold star for it!'"
On top of the unexpected animosity toward Dorinda becoming an apple-holder, Dorinda says she was also shocked to learn about Jill's approach to filming (what's supposed to be) a reality show.
"I didn't realize her technique of filming was very different than what I expected," she says. "She likes to have the filming time. She likes to be planning stuff constantly. She wants [her boyfriend] Gary up there a lot. She wants her dog up there a lot. I'm very casual filmer. Literally, they can walk in my bedroom and I could just be laying in my bed and I'm like, 'OK. No problem.' So maybe that's how they filmed in the early days. But when I was filming, it just was a much more casual look into my life."
Dorinda may need to get comfortable with Jill's approach to production, though, seeing as they both are likely to wind up on Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York City reboot starring only legacy cast-members. The flagship RHONY show went into a bit of a tailspin after Dorinda's exit -- as she says, being "put on pause" -- with a slimmed-down cast forced to film at the height of the pandemic.
"I felt almost like I got lucky that my last season was [season 12] because it all seemed to not go as planned after that," she remarks, but won't go so far as to say it would've worked had she not been fired.
"I didn't think it helped that I wasn't on," she admit. "I don't think it helped. But I don't think one person ruins a show. I think there's a lot of moving parts. You've got to remember with New York, this is the good news and the bad news with New York. We have an extra character -- and maybe two -- Bluestone Manor has always played a nice role in the show once I was on. But we have a major character that was in their season 13, which was New York City. That's our backdrop. That's where we play. So when you remove New York City, add COVID, add new cast members, remove some cast member that maybe was loved by some people, that makes it tough."
"I'm excited for the reboot," she tacks on, meaning the dual-pronged approach Bravo is taking to the franchise. Beloved cast members from the past will reunite on a spinoff, while a whole new crop of women will take over the main show. Dorinda recently seemed to reveal she was filming for the "throwback" edition on Jeff Lewis' radio show, but clarifies that when she said she was filming moving out of her apartment, it was all self-shot just in case she's asked back and they'd want to include that moment.
"I still like the old girls, and I'm really excited about seeing who they choose as the new girls and the new life they live in New York as young girls, young mothers, businesswomen, the diversity, because we need to see that," she says.
The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives Club starts streaming June 23 on Peacock.
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