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Gina Liano Talks About The Infamous E-mail, The Real Housewives Of Melbourne Reunion, And Whether Or Not She'll Do A Second Season!

Real Housewives of Melbourne star Gina Liano recently did an interview with Pop Sugar and talked about the infamous e-mail that she sent to her two co-stars Andrea Moss and Lydia Schiavello. Gina also dishes about the reunion and her thoughts on the anonymous blogger "Letter to Gina" and weather or not she'll return for a second season and more. Check it out below!

POPSUGAR Australia: I wanted to chat to you because you have so much support on our site.

Gina: It's quite amazing. I looked at it the other night and saw you've got a poll about, 'Will you watch the show if Gina leaves?' or something to that effect, and I think it was 92 percent said they wouldn't.

Can I tell you? It's a lifesaver, because it's been really traumatic the whole thing. The audience doesn't see the full brunt of it, they just see bits and pieces; you get probably 45 minutes each week for 10 weeks, but it actually went on for 15 weeks, 10 hours a day for four days a week. It was pretty horrendous.

PS: I think the timeline of this is really interesting, because you taped it about a year ago, you did press a few months ago — but you had no idea how it would be received by the public — and now you're going through the public reaction. Can you talk about experiencing things in real time? 

Gina: You're absolutely right, none of us knew how it was going to be perceived. I didn't really spend a lot of time with the girls apart from when I had media obligations through Foxtel, and contractual obligations, otherwise I had no contact with them at all, not even over the phone. I think we were all probably worried — I certainly was — because it was a bit embarrassing for me, the way I was treated; I've never been treated like that before, and I pride myself on being pretty dignified, and having a professional position and role. I've never been in an aggressive situation where I've been targeted like that — ever! So I didn't know how I was going to come off, and I didn't know whether the audience would agree with how they were behaving. I didn't see all the stuff, obviously when I wasn't there; I didn't get to see the eye-rolling of Lydia when I talk about cancer; I didn't know she was being so contemptuous; I didn't know I was being called a dog; I didn't know that I was bagged for the way I look. All I knew was what was happening when I was face-to-face with them on camera.

It was quite hurtful, I suppose, to watch it. But it was pretty consistent with how they were behaving off-camera. As I said, I didn't see them for a long time after we finished filming, but when everything did start to go to air, I could see the audience reacting in a way that was actually so similar to things I thought and felt. It was so refreshing that the audience could see how bad the situation was, and they weren't willing to accept it, which was pretty much the position I was coming from all the way through.

I think the girls were surprised. I think because they had their group, who were all so agreeable, that they came away from the show quite convinced that they would manage to assassinate my character with the audience, and that I would have a whole nation rising against me in protest for stuff they believed was so bad, that it warranted being treated the way that I was. And I think it's been a real shock to them. The reason why I say that is because if they had foresight, they perhaps wouldn't have behaved that way in the first place. And also, I know because I was getting feedback from journalists and different people, about how the girls believed they would come across [well]. For example, one of the cast members was going around saying, "Gina's going to come out of this looking so bad by the end, and we're going to come out looking so good." When people told me that, I said, "Well I think Andrea's going to be very surprised, or Janet's going to be very frazzled," because I'd be very surprised if the audience think that's OK, what they've said and what they've done. At the same time, I didn't know for sure. So it's been an absolutely amazing journey [laughs].

PS: How do you feel about the way you've been portrayed? 

Gina: I think we've all been portrayed pretty much how we are. It's very difficult to maintain behaviour, if it's not honest, over that period of time under those circumstances. You can't maintain it if it's not real; the truth actually reveals itself. The producers are waiting for everybody to get to that point where they react in a certain way. What the producers have pulled together with me are probably the highlights of who I am, because the rest of the stuff was maybe not as good as that, and likewise for the girls. They pulled out some of the nastiest, bitchiest stuff, because it makes for interesting television. But, at the same time I say that, there was actually nastier, bitchier stuff going on, that was so nasty they couldn't put it to air.

PS: I was wondering how you felt about the whole storyline with the email, because what I gather from what's been shown on TV and what I've read, is that you emailed the producers about not using your partner as a storyline, and now that's become a massive storyline in itself. 

Gina: I'm annoyed with the girls because they tried at every opportunity to embarrass me, disparage, or throw me under the bus, if you like. This was just another example of it. I was trying to stop them from talking about my partner when I was overseas, and carrying on the storyline. My view, at the end of the day, is that those girls aren't very interesting women; I think Chyka's probably the most interesting.

I think the producers were short on storylines, and I was worried that they were going to use this one, that they were going to embarrass me, for the sake of their show. My partner hadn't signed up like the other girls' partners had. He was in another country, he couldn't defend himself, and I was in another country, and I couldn't defend him. When I was away, I did speak to Janet — and this comes out in the reunion show, anyway — probably two days in after I arrived, and she'd been filming that day, and she did tell me that the producers got her to start talking about my partner with her girlfriend, what they thought and what they would do if they were in my predicament. And I said to Janet, "I don't want you talking about Dean, because he's not here," and Janet's known Dean for 20 years. I can say that stuff, and muck around about it, but this is not going to be 10 episodes about me in this long distance relationship, and my partner being unfaithful.

I spoke to my partner, and he said, "Because you're not there, we need to send them a letter." He was actually furious that the producers were milking this situation. It is defamatory to talk about someone like that. It does question someone's integrity, whether you can trust them. I mean if you were in business with someone and you were managing a lot of funds, you would question who this person was, if suddenly he's on national television and they're talking about how many girls he's with, and stuff like that. So we needed to stop it. Whether it's true or not is irrelevant — the fact that it's being said is enough.

So rather than him write a legal letter, I sent an email to the producers — not a legal email, an email as a cast member — talking about my partner. And I said, "I know you're short on storylines, but can you please not talk about him?" We do actually read it out at the reunion, because these women know I tried to keep the content confidential — not because there's anything in it, but just because I don't want him to be part of the show, because he's not a participant! If he wanted to be part of it, he would have signed up, like Chris Moss did, like Andrew [Lydia's husband] did, and Bruce [Chyka's husband]. They all signed a release; my partner didn't. So they pulled out the email at the reunion show and read it out, and it talks about the fact that it does question his integrity, and whether he's trustworthy. He's a force not to be reckoned with; he will litigate if he needs to, and he's furious! And I said that I would serve the girls with copies of the email so that they're aware, and I cc'd them in. So it all gets read out in the reunion show. Whether they use it, legally, I'm not sure, whether they'll risk any legal repercussions from reading something like that, or whether they're comfortable to, we'll see what happens.

But really, it's just nonsense. It's been the most frustrating experience. I've never encountered anything as frustrating as I have dealing with the cast in the last 12 months.

And then there are articles in the paper dating back to 2011 — it might not have been 2011, but there are cases from 2011 —where Andrea Moss is trying to defend her husband's integrity because someone's defamed him on a website. She invested a lot of money into preserving his reputation. Now, a woman who has reacted that way to preserve her husband's reputation, surely has some understanding of how another woman might be protecting the integrity of her partner. For some reason that didn't matter. It didn't create any empathy or understanding in her.

PS: Another thing I wanted to ask you about is this blog post, which I'm sure you're aware about. Do you know who wrote it? 

Gina: I don't know for sure, but someone actually posted as commentary, I think it was in a blog, this comment, on the 21st of April this year at 7:41 a.m. — I think it was about an hour-and-a-half before someone posted it on Twitter. It was about four hours before this anonymous person emailed me a copy of the letter. It said, 'I have a friend who's one of the producers and knows some of the girls formally, and he says behind the scenes is a mess.' There has been a lot of communication going on on this site about Real Housewives. Then she says, 'Some of them apparently reek of desperation for fame, and apparently Lydia has hired someone to write an anonymous blog attacking Gina so the audience will somehow be persuaded to be Team Lydia/Andrea before the reunion airs.' The logic behind that is so brainless and pathetic. So that's what was posted.

Now, the other thing was that Lydia had been posting from the night before, 'Gina the cancer patient,' and putting little images of me smoking cigarettes. She wouldn't know anyway, I haven't seen her since then; she would not know for one minute whether I smoke, do or don't, or drink — she wouldn't know anything. I have no contact with her at all. Occasionally I have a cigarette with Janet when we finish a shoot, or whatever, but she wouldn't know. Her son smokes, my boys smoke, smoking's around. It's not a big deal, but for some reason she's being a bit hideous about everything, about me. She thinks that will make me look bad, at least about my health.

She also started posting things in the morning about one of my followers or something, someone who was not very friendly to her, she posted things on Twitter like, 'We'll see what you think about Gina by the end of the day. Wait and see.' It's like she was pre-empting some tweets about what was coming. So that doesn't make sense.

Now there are things in that email, things like cheap perfume — and I will say that at the reunion show I did have a cigarette with Alex Perry, and I do carry Impulse around, which is cheap perfume, so I can use it afterwards. So that tells me that someone there has written this. It's definitely not a Foxtel employee; I know all the Foxtel employees and I get along famously with all of them. And Foxtel has actually made a statement to say it's got nothing to do with Arena or Foxtel. It was really offensive things, like how my children were referred to as 'offspring,' but Andrea's children were referred to as 'babies.' There was a lot of contempt in it, and there was a lot of detail in it, things like the perfume, that someone really had to have been there. Now whether there was a pin camera, I don't know. . . I'm thinking there was no way it could have been Foxtel — the whole thing was recorded, what do they need a pin camera for? [Laughs] It doesn't even make sense.

PS: Hearing your point of view now, it really is a lot to go through and so intense. You do have a lot of fans who are worried you won't return for another series, and many have said they won't watch it if you leave. It makes me think the producers would love you to stay because they will have seen how many supporters you have. What are your thoughts on doing another series now?

Gina: No one's had a conversation with the producers about it yet. It's not something that's come up. I've had an awful experience; it's certainly not what I thought I was signing up for. What has got me through: I can see how people are bullied, and it's relentless bullying, and it escalates often, with a lot of bullies, until they get a rise out of the victims and they retaliate. That's usually when it stops. In the end they push until you break, so they can point their finger and say, "See, she is that person." They're trying to justify their behaviour, and you see it in a lot of abusive relationships. I see it in a lot of cases where there is child abuse and family violence, and I've seen a lot of crime. You can see a pattern. I feel I was very much on the receiving end of an abusive relationship with each of those girls, bar Chyka. And probably not Jackie, she sits back and let it roll. And I was on the receiving end of abuse that was behaviour that Jackie had already put in place.

With the lateness, Lydia had been late on many occasions — in fact, if you speak to the producers, Lydia was consistently late. I was actually the least late — actually, that's not the right way to say it, but out of the cast members, I was probably the most punctual. I had drivers picking me up to go to every shoot, so there was no reason for me to not be on time. It was only on one occasion that I got tied up in court, and they just thought it would be a great storyline, because I did say to Janet, "Can you please not push that storyline? It's actually really serious misconduct as a barrister to not be punctual. You can't keep the court and your client waiting. They're so pedantic and particular about it." She pushed this, and it could affect my career. And that was almost like a green light: let's go.

I just don't know whether I could do that again. I think they will have to reconsider the cast. I don't think the audience will want to watch that dynamic happen again. They will switch off. The reality is that under contract, when you sign up for reality TV, you really sign away your rights to be precious about being embarrassed or disparaged, and all those things. And that's OK. I copped it on the chin because I thought, 'OK, I thought I had a pact with these girls, I thought we were going to look out for each other's backs.' Now I've copped it from them, but I'm contracted and I signed up, which is one of the reasons why I keep going. Otherwise I would have never kept going like that.

Now that that season is over, the contract's over, so when that ended I was looking forward to not seeing them again. Despite signing up for that under contract, there were social media policies under the contracted that prohibited the girls from embarrassing and disparaging each other on social media, and they hadn't really complied with that. I mean I've been called filth by Andrea Moss, and I've never been called anything like that in my life. People might say, "Oh, well you called Lydia the c-word," but we were filming, it was for entertainment. I was angry with her at the time, because I'd been called one and I was in a situation where I'd been set up for it. I was angry.

So the point I'm getting to is this: whilst I signed up for it, and I was put in that situation where I was treated really badly, it continued outside the parameters of the contract. That's the bit that has really upset me. And every time a show goes to air, whoever is the target of the audience, they escalate and up their campaign against me. After Mission Beach, it was Andrea Moss who targeted me, and she got really aggressive. Then it was Janet, and I've had messages from Janet where she's called me really vulgar things that I can't believe a woman is speaking to anyone like that. So the bullying has continued. This week it's Lydia, potentially with this email. And if she didn't author it, she certainly promoted it; she retweeted it. And can I tell you something? I received a pretty vicious email about her six or seven weeks ago, and you know what I did with it? I put it in the cupboard. I thought, 'There's no way I will allow anything like this to come out.' It is so defamatory and harmful — it talks about her children, her husband, their finances, it's got phone numbers in it — it's a full exposé. I actually told her about it! So not only did she not tell me about this letter, she kept it a secret and then published it.

Do I want to do a second season? I don't like these women! I really don't. I signed up for it in the season, under contract. The season ended, and I'm copping even worse in the assassination of my character in the screening period, and it's just gotten worse and worse. Every time the audience reacted they pointed the finger at me to target me, to try and explain or validate their behaviour. Do I want to do that again? Probably not. I think the audience will be upset, and I don't think Matchbox Pictures can do anything about it, to be honest.


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Photo Credit: Foxtel/Arena TV