Interview: Albie Manzo Talks ‘Boys To Manzo’ And The BLK Family BusinessPosted: October 26, 2011
A lot of people would assume that this interview with Albie Manzo would show how charming and serious he is. Well, they would be right, on his charm. He’s sincere, hard at work but delightfully not as serious as the show likes to portray him as.
The very likable Albie that viewers tend to gravitate toward from The Real Housewives of New Jersey talks to me about his family business and how his favorite segment was also the most cringe-worthy. He also shows how Bravo made the right move when giving him, brother Chris and friend Greg Bennett their own web series.
Boys to Manzo is addicting and so is their love for Glee. Check out what Albie had to say.
What was your reaction a few years ago when Bravo approached your mom for the RHONJ series?
ALBIE MANZO: Its funny, when Bravo presented us the opportunity to do the show it was really only Orange County that was on TV. It was before New York even aired…We sat down as a family and interestingly enough my mom wasn’t supposed to be originally in the cast. They were dealing with Jacqueline and Jacqueline brought in Teresa, my Aunt Dina and two other women who eventually dropped out and was eventually replaced with my mom and Danielle. Which I guess turned out to be a pretty good move on their part. [Laughs] I’ll never forget it. I used to work a law firm about five minutes away from where she was, at her real estate office, and she would take me out for lunch every day. We used to go to the same diner for lunch and she told me about the opportunity and she was like, ‘What do you think I should do?’ And I was like ‘Mom, if anything else we’ll have a few cool DVD’s that I can pop in for my kids and Chris can pop in for his kids one day and see how the family was.’ We’ll do one season of this stuff and that will be that because we didn’t really know what to expect. It’s kind of wild to look back on it now and life and think about it. One thing I can definitely say about mom and all of us really is that we definitely stay true to whom we are.
Your family really is entertaining to watch. What was the first day of shooting like?
The very first day of shooting is still one of my favorite scenes to this day. The very first time I’m in front of a camera was the day of my college graduation. I had no idea they were coming. They just showed up. [Laughs] We hadn’t really figured out what was going on 100%. Lauren and Chris and I never expected much camera time. It was just kind of like cool mom will be on a bunch and maybe we’ll get some background stuff. They came down and they had some free time when they got there…They were supposed to film us getting ready for the party and they got there a bit early and mom was getting her hair done or something so they slapped a mic on me and Christopher and were like, ‘Look we don’t really have any direction for you guys, but just start talking.’ So if you remember it I think it was one of the very first scenes Bravo put online seeing my brother and I talking about the stripper car wash and that was our very first time on camera. We just sat there. It was really awkward for the first twenty minutes. We just had no idea what we were doing. We were just talking. We can tell the conversation is boring and its not a normal conversation to have so we were making fun of each other and out of nowhere Chris goes, ‘You know what, you’re a douche.’ [Laughs] And I was like, ‘What?’ And it just sort of clicked. So we just went to being ourselves and it’s been like that ever since. Just comfortable and you act like yourself and hopefully it turns out to be something that people like.
Have you seen a difference with other people and having cameras following you?
It kind of depends where we are. It’s fun. It’s really a fun experience. People always say to us, ‘Oh I feel like I know you guys.’ The cameras are up for six months. They put our lives on TV and see what’s really going on. You see about BLK when it comes on the shelf, I mean I’m in the office right now. If you call the 800 number it’s a pretty good chance that I’ll pick up. This is our real life. So its kind of fun that people have that aspect of your life but it’s a double edge sword. On one end it’s really great. You can talk to people and they can relate to you and it makes it so interesting to watch. But on the other end, our business is straight out in the open. You’ve got to be able to handle that.
That’s definitely understandable. Speaking of BLK, how is that going?
We are really excited about it. Myself especially because I’m a little older than Chris and I had that whole law school happen so I think I look at it in a little bit of a different lens coming from where I was coming from. It’s interesting. My Uncle [Chris Laurita] and I were talking one day and he was really pushing to do a family business. ‘I really want to start a family business. I’m not sure yet what I really want to do but I know we have a lot of talented guys in this family and everyone is looking for something big to do…’ We walked a food show in New York and we met these ladies at BLK. We learned their story, learned more about the water. It’s interesting. We kind of looked at it as an opportunity to start a marketing firm and we started drinking BLK every day. [Laughs] Totally different–like I can’t even describe to you after drinking it every day what it’s like. I guess its something you just have to try.
I get the same rolling of the eyes. My mother thought I was totally full of it forever and then she had a stomach ache one day and I said to try BLK. She said, ‘I know Al, it cures everything, it cures everything.’ And I said do it. She drinks it and she said it really worked. [Laughs] It’s very interesting—Fulvic Acid, its in the water. I really think it’s on the cutting edge of a natural ingredient. The water is amazing, it has no taste…Uncle Chris did an investment and now we’re active partners in the brand. He is and we work with him. Its going amazing and we’ve expanded since with a wine company.
Where is the company located?
The business is in Mahwah still but we’re looking around. It’s tough for us to say let’s move out and go to another office because of two things. For one, we’re really comfortable here and number two; we don’t know how fast we’re going to grow. The water is really doing exceptionally well. We’re about to introduce flavors as well, which I’m really excited about.
So how does the water work exactly?
Basically if you took water and Gatorade or pomegranate juice and had all of those benefits in one bottle and took out the calories and carbs and sugar–this is what you would have left.
It’s really great that you’re able to go to work with your brother every day.
Yeah, I feel like I can’t get away from the guy. [Laughs]
Especially with Boys to Manzo too! What was your reaction when Bravo came to you with the idea?
It was interesting because in a weird way we’ve been doing this for a while. The show always has excess footage that they don’t use on the actual show itself on television. They just go online and they call them webisodes. You just click videos and they’re always there, but they kind of said they wanted to amp it up a little bit more with Chris and I and we were up for it. We thought it would be a pretty cool idea. I think it brings a lot to it and that’s our real life too. That’s not a move [to Hoboken] we made to try to make good TV. We didn’t think we would be filming a lot in the apartment anyway. When we finally got rolling it was very clear to us that they wanted to spend a lot of time there and I’m glad we did it. I think the episodes went great. I hear a lot of people watch it and the reaction was cool so you never know.
Yea, I think it’s absolutely hilarious and hope more will be filmed. Greg said it perfect. It’s like a Real World scenario but a lot more humor and people who actually know each other from the start.
Yea! I think the big thing is, and this is kind of the rule of thumb for us altogether—I think a lot of people get on TV especially if they do one season of something, and they watch them selves and see how people react to one aspect of their personality and they try to amp that up afterward. Like, ‘Oh I have to be this person all the time.’ We never parted from that. We figured we’re going to be who we are all the time and as long as people like it, that’s how long we’ll keep doing it. And when our times up our times up but its fun for us not being headline characters of the Housewives. We enjoy it. I think it’s a good segway because you see a small aspect of us each week on Housewives and it’s a more detailed look on what our life is like on the web show. I really like that. I think it was a really great supplement to the show itself. It was weird in a way. It was like filming for the first time all over again. I think the first experience was with Millionaire Matchmaker. [Laughs]
I saw that a few weeks ago!
Yea, and that was a fun experience too but I think overall we just enjoy it. We have a lot of fun, we keep it real and hopefully its something people enjoy watching.
Are you hoping for more episodes for Boys to Manzo or a transition to television?
We love Bravo and we trust their judgment with whatever move they think is best for us. If there is one, I mean we’d do it. I would love for Boys to Manzo to be the biggest show on TV one day if it’s something people want to watch. None of the three of us want to be on a show that nobody wants to watch. That’s for sure. [Laughs] I definitely think though that Boys to Manzo has potential. I mean I enjoy watching it. I think we’re fun and there’s been some new additions I guess you can say for our social lives in the last few months so I think that would be an interesting angle that no one’s seen before as well.
What kind of additions?
We have our own group of friends and we have our own dating lives. So I think if we highlighted more of that it would probably make it an interesting show…I think it would be really, really great and if Bravo wants to keep it on the web, awesome, and if they want to bring it to TV awesome. We just love working with them.
So what was it like meeting roommate Greg for the first time?
He had a blog at Fordham that we were like all terrified of. Hysterical. Like he’d write up the daily gossip of someone at school that day. [Laughs] It would completely ruin your social life if you weren’t friends with the kid. I met him through this girl that I really, really liked in college and she had just broken up with her boyfriend and wasn’t really looking for anybody but she was friends with Greg. I told Greg you have to set me up with this girl. You have to, have to do it. Even though we didn’t even know each other that well. He did! One day I was home in Franklin Lakes for the night and I get a phone call from Greg. Its like 3:30 in the morning. I said, ‘Hey Greg what’s going on? Is something wrong?’ He said, ‘Listen there’s this guy all over her…wants to leave for sandwiches. What do I do?’ I said, ‘Defense.’ I said ‘Greg you’re on him like white on rice. You do not leave him alone with her.’ [Laughs] He goes alright and is texting me how it goes. He pretends to be drunk sick and follows them all the way back to her apartment…and they are sitting on her bed in her room. Greg starts pretending he has to throw up in front of this guy and he starts playing it up. Like you know how Greg is, ‘I’m gonna be sick! I’m gonna be sick! You have to take care of me.’ And the other kid is just like I’m out of here I’ll call you later. She never saw him again and we actually started dating after that for like a year and a half. I was like, you know what, I’m going to be friends with this guy for the rest of my life. He looked out for me big time.
That is the best story. The dynamic you all have together clearly shows why Boys to Manzo works so well. When it comes to RHONJ, what’s your favorite segment that’s been filmed?
My favorite scene is by far Lauren and Vito making the mozzarella actually. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in my entire life actually. [Laughs] I really haven’t. It was like I’ve never seen anything like that before. I was just in shock. Like the whole thing is crazy to me. I mean think about it through my eyes and think about being me having to see that scene. How do you do it? I was literally screaming, like ‘Oh my Goddd!’ I couldn’t even—I still don’t have words for it really. Like it really, really is just the most uncomfortable twenty minutes of my life. Not twenty minutes, but it felt like twenty minutes.
I loved how Lauren said it was like the movie Ghost.
[Laughs] Yea, except Vito is still alive.
Well if that was sort of awful to watch, what is something embarrassing that could be found on your iPod?
You will find many a Glee song on my iPod.
Chris said the same thing!
You know what, that is all Greg. [Laughs] Like every once in a while I’ll be sitting in the car and I’ll find something funny in it and I’ll be like, ‘Oh that’s Greg. That’s Greg.’ Like who bought The Warblers CD? Well, not me. But yea, Greg got me into that so that would probably be the most embarrassing.
Who would be your celebrity crush?
I probably would say now is Minka Kelly. Minka Kelly is like the most perfect girl on the planet.
And what are your three Ologies?
What it comes down to is I love spending time with my family. I’m really like the worst person when it comes to questions like this. [Laughs] What it comes down to is–to sum me up is every day is kind of the same for me. It just revolves around–well my family encompasses almost everything really when I think about it. I work with my family, go home and Chris is there and I feel like Greg is one of my brothers too. I never have a moment where there’s not someone who I’m blood related to around me in one time or another. Off the top of my head I can count maybe three or four scenarios in the past two weeks where I’ve been without one of them.