News & Politics

‘Real’ Housewife of New York Jill Zarin’s Amazon.com Fake Review ‘Scandal’ Busted Open

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Cringing is a completely acceptable reaction when one hears the words “Real Housewife of New York,” because there’s nothing remotely “Real” about the way the characters on Bravo’s hit TV show live their lives in front of a camera. There is something, however, distinctly New York about how potentially scrappy (and how potentially stupid) they can be.

Observe: Jill Zarin, The Loud One, pictured, has some kind of book out capitalizing on the success of her show. And as if it weren’t enough to have a book from that show, she wants it to have excellent reviews, too. And I’m sorry, but any book called Secrets of a Jewish Mother has a pretty uphill battle from the start. Because those are basically the kind of secrets one possibly wants locked and buried away forever. Like nuclear technology.

Possibly knowing this, Zarin’s been trying to get good reviews on Amazon.com for her book, even going so far as to plead with Gawker’s Doree Shafrir to write a positive review — even anonymously — on the site, as Shafrir worked on an interview for The Daily Beast with Zarin. She got busted by Amazon.com users. And Shafrir went back to her original interview transcript for review:

“I would love you to write a review for us,” Jill said, after I told her I had, in fact, liked reading the book.

“I don’t know if I can,” I said, trying to be polite.

“Can you go under an assumed name?” Jill asked.

I shook my head.

She laughed. “Why not?”

At that point, Jill’s sister Lisa Wexler jumped in. “‘Cause she said it’s not allowed because it’s unethical. She’s not comfortable,” Lisa said.

“I don’t know, you could just say you loved the book,” Jill said. “Anonymous. Is that so bad?”

“It is if she says she’s not allowed to do it,” Lisa said.

The takeaway from all of this is kind of wonderful.

On one hand, yes: It’s easy to condemn Zarin’s shameless pandering and pleading and gaming of the system for positive reviews of a book — a book whose potential audience is likely too vapid to give a shit about reviews anyway — as dishonest. On the other, you have to admire the moxie it takes to ensure your shit product even appears to appear to look good. Also, most of what you read on the Internet is likely system-gamed bullshit.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]

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