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Ever since her exit from The Real Housewives of New York City in 2011, fans and castmates alike have believed Jill Zarin was desperate to get back on the show she helped launch. While that might've been true at one point, Jill says it's not the case now.
"Let me set the record straight: I am not thirsty, I am hungry," she says. "I am hungry for success; I am ambitious and I am driven. I think thirsty is a mean word to say about somebody that they're jealous of, as wanting something that they want, too. So, I think someone calls someone thirsty when they themselves are thirsty and throwing it on someone else."
The first person to call Jill "thirsty" on RHUGT was her fellow RHONY alum, Dorinda Medley, who hosted the trip at her Berkshires estate, Blue Stone Manor. The two women never overlapped as apple-holders at the same time, but have a friendship dating back 20 years -- a friendship that seemingly weakened over the course of filming the spinoff series last fall. On the two most recent episodes, Jill and Dorinda faced off over Jill being "thirsty" for airtime (both on TV and on co-star Eva Marcille's radio show) and Dorinda believing Jill tried to take credit for getting her on RHONY.
"I didn't help her get on the show. I never said I did," Jill fires off. "What I said was, is I brought her on the show, hoping that maybe something would happen for her and it didn't while I was there. Later on, another friend of mine brought her on, OK?"
Dorinda lasted six years as a Housewife (seasons 7-12) before being put "on pause" by the network, a longer tenure than Jill -- a fact from which Dorinda seems to take pleasure.
"I left the show -- I mean, it's like rehashed so many times it's not worth rehashing!" Jill says. "I left the show and then the show fired me. It's a semantics thing. Just like, Dorinda likes to say that she was put on pause and we were all fired, as if she's in a better place than we are. Well, sweetie, when you're on pause, you're not getting a paycheck. So, I don't know. Are you in a better position? Are you?"
Dorinda and Jill got into it over that turn of phrase -- "on pause" -- during a cast dinner on RHUGT. It was the crescendo of a battle that began brewing when Dorinda shut down Jill's attempts to learn about Eva's radio show, which she was recording from Blue Stone Manor. Dorinda thought Jill was pitching herself as a guest, while Jill says she just wanted to watch Eva do her thing.
"I just wanted to support her," Jill claims. "And she was very nice, very nice. She wasn't b***hy at all. She said exactly what you saw, 'Jill, it's a national show, I'd have to clear you. I love you; I'm going to bed. I'll see you tomorrow.' I'm like, 'OK no problem.' And then Dorinda's like, 'You're so thirsty.' And like... I'm like, that's good. But we just had a conversation, Eva, and I, and she told me no. And I said, 'OK,' and we're good. But she just couldn't shut the F up. She just wouldn't stop! And she kept going and going and she's getting worse, and spits coming out of her mouth and her eyes are rolling. I don't even know how to describe it."
Jill removed herself from the situation, but made the mistake of heading into the house's confessional room rather than back to her own bedroom. As she attempted to sort through her feelings to the camera, castmates -- Dorinda included -- barged in, only making matters worse. Jill cried as Dorinda berated her over everything from the RHONY casting misperception to the fact that Jill found love with a new man, Gary Brody, soon after her husband, Bobby Zarin, died in 2018.
"I probably should have gone in my room and done a selfie video," Jill says in hindsight. "It was much worse than you can ever imagine in there. Watching it on TV, people are-- imagine if you're standing in front of someone, just absolutely tearing you apart while you're crying, and doesn't give up!"
Jill says she was shocked by Dorinda's behavior during the week they spent together, and remains a bit perplexed by her as press continues to come out about the show.
"I'm still looking for the old Dorinda," she laments. "Am I ever gonna find her? I don't know."
Jill squashed her beef with Dorinda on camera by issuing a blanket apology, one that may not have been so genuine. Jill still feels as if she did nothing wrong, but wanted to clear the air in the moment so they could finish filming in a somewhat positive place. As the episodes have aired and viewers have lambasted Dorinda's behavior online, Jill began to anticipate an "I'm sorry" from her co-star. She's yet to receive one.
"I was hoping she'd call me," she shares. "Hopefully, when Dorinda decides that it's just not working for her anymore -- and I mean the drinking and drinking too much. Drinking's fine, but when you drink too much and you become a mean drunk -- when that stops working and she decides that she's not going to do it anymore, I think maybe I'll find her."
"But I also thought it was funny that she said that she thought that fame went to her boyfriend's head, John," she adds, referencing a comment Dorinda made about needing to break things off with her longtime love, John Mahdessian, near the end of her run on RHONY.
"I think the fame went to her head!" Jill proclaims. "I watch her interviews and I watch her demeanor and everything and I'm like, I'm trying to find the Dorinda I knew 10 years ago. She doesn't even look the same. I mean, a lot of us don't look the same, but when you look back at the episode, she was on season 4, she looks so different, but I could say the same thing about myself."
Even with that slight dig in, Jill admits she's "rooting for Dorinda." There's a good change the two will share the screen again as Bravo readies a The Real Housewives of New York City spinoff centered around the "legacy" cast members as part of a franchise reboot, which will see new women inhabit the original show. Jill says it could turn out to be "very ugly."
"It could be very ugly," she repeats. "What did you just see for a week? Could you imagine that for four months?"
Bravo has yet to announce any details about the RHONY spinoff, and Jill's at peace with whatever the network decides. Doubling down against that "thirsty" label, Jill says she really doesn't care if she's asked to be a part of it.
"Honestly, it doesn't matter what I think," she declares. "I think a 'Legacy' show will be great to show where all the girls are, so many years later and who's evolved and who hasn't and fights are the same, girls are the same. I always say nothing happens that didn't happen in kindergarten. It's all the same."
Jill says running multiple brands and philanthropical endeavors, including her 7th Annual Luxury Luncheon this weekend in the Hamptons, benefiting the Bobby Zarin Memorial Trust, keeps her busy enough. She won't even dream cast a potential lineup for the "throwback" series, but does say there's "no show" without Ramona Singer, the only OG 'Wife to retain her full-time position on the show over the course of its 12 seasons. Jill and Ramona were some of the first "frenemies" on Housewives; Jill still can't believe Ramona never apologized for tanking a sponsorship deal she had with Kodak back in the early seasons of the show.
"I think I'm in a better place than I was with Ramona what years ago, but it's the same relationship," she says. "I never know where we stand. It's always like we're [up] here, but if I say one more word, we're back [down]. If things go well, we're forward. I walk into a room, 'Are we going to say hello, or are we going to do a miss?'"
One person who's likely not to come back for another iteration of RHONY, however, is Bethenny Frankel. Jill's one-time bestie has made it clear she's not exactly on board with returning to Housewives, but has conceded that she'd be more interested if Bravo could reunite the original five women -- herself, Jill, Ramona, Luann de Lesseps and Alex McCord. It's something the pair may have discussed during a recent run-in on a flight, but it's a conversation Jill says she'll never share.
"I do, a hundred percent think it's possible," Jill admits of bringing together the original lineup, though. "Of course it's possible, because money talks. So, that's it. I think the Van Kempens [Alex and her husband, Simon] would totally be on board for the right amount of money. No question. Everybody wants to help their families to any way they can. It's not personal. And that's one thing I've learned -- I used to think, I took things personally. I don't have to take it personally anymore."
Jill compares Alex returning for more RHONY to Kim Cattrall coming back as Samantha Jones in the Sex and the City sequel series, And Just Like That... so, unlikely. Alex and Simon relocated to his home country of Australia after departing the show at the end of season 4.
"That would be great, do a trip there," Jill suggests. "That would be amazing, and go visit her."
Until that's all sorted, though, Jill's happy to focus on RHUGT. Some fans have called for this group of women -- Jill, Dorinda, Eva, Phaedra Parks, Brandi Glanville, Tamra Judge, Vicki Gunvalson and Taylor Armstrong -- to reunite once a year for a trip after witnessing their chemistry. Jill's into the idea, so long as they don't film at Blue Stone Manor.
"I'm not going back to Blue Stone Manor!" she exclaims. "I loved these girls trips. I could do, I could film with anyone for eight days, no problem. No problem."
And as Jill notes, there's some unfinished business between multiple women and Dorinda, so plenty of drama could unfold.
"What I love about Dorinda is, and she said this I think on her [radio] show, she said ... that the Housewives is like being on a football field: You beat each other up, and then you get off the field, and it's over," Jill notes. "So I hope everybody really enjoyed the season of the Ultimate Girls Trip, and you never know, you might see us back together one day."