March 4th, 2010
12:55 PM ET
A new season of “The Real Housewives: New York” debuts tonight on Bravo at 11 p.m., and along with the two new housewives – Jennifer Gilbert and Sonja Morgan – is a new and improved Jill Zarin, with a new and unexpected BFF.
For the past two seasons, Jill and Bethenny Frankel were like long-lost sisters, but Zarin told CNN that after season two wrapped, her relationship with Frankel hit a rough patch that still hasn't healed.
“When we stopped filming last year, we still had lives and we were still interacting with each other. When the show picks up in September, you pick up right where we are in our lives,” she said. Zarin didn't elaborate on what exactly caused the riff, but confirmed that “there were definitely some damaged relationships in the year that happened. It’s really sad for me; it’s hard and it’s painful.”
But on the bright side, being on the outs with Frankel has made Zarin draw much closer to former frenemy Kelly Bensimon. After watching the second season, Zarin said she was “horrified” by the way she treated her.
“Kelly and I became closer this season. I opened my heart up to get to know her and for her to know me," Zarin said. "I apologized to her that I didn’t give her a chance to get to know her and I made assumptions about her based on what other people told me, which is everything I don’t believe in, and I got caught up in it.”
The viewers likely got caught up in it too. The way last season was edited, Zarin said, with the show focusing on the drama between Bensimon and Frankel (remember that mind-boggling, "I'm here, and you're here" chat at the bar?), Bensimon was painted in an unfair light.
“Kelly is a lot of fun, and hopefully that comes out more this year. That’s one of the things I like about Kelly – she's all about having fun,” Zarin said. “She’s always got a smile on her face and she’s always happy. She has very good energy, and I need to be around good energy people. When I was having problems at the beginning of the season with Bethenny, Kelly was there for me.”
But when the conversation turned to the two new cast members, Zarin hesitated for a moment.
“You know, it’s uh…let’s see…It’s a lot of women," she said. "It’s a lot of women to get to know, but I didn’t make the same mistake that I made with Kelly, and I tried to get to know them both. It was limited time to meet them, because they came in mid-season. You know, I’m not a mean girl, as much as Ramona likes to say that I am."
New friends aside, Zarin - who's already had a breast reduction - decided to step her style up a notch for season 3.
"I wasn’t thrilled with how I looked last season," she said, "so I had my hair and makeup done nearly every time we shot," something she points out the other women didn't do. "I had a stylist help me get clothes because I wanted to look better. The show is about the glamour - as much as people say they want to see reality, they really don’t. They want to see you look good."
Zarin is still running with Zarin Fabrics with her husband, Bobby, but she's picked up two new ventures in RHONY's off-season. Zarin teamed up with her mother and sister for a new book, "Secrets of a Jewish Mother," which lands on shelves April 15, and will debut a new bedding line with a major retailer in coming months.
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