On Wednesday, BuzzFeed published an interview I had done with Carole Radziwill, a co-star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City. In the story, Radziwill discussed her feud with fellow castmate Aviva Drescher, who accused her early in the season of having had a ghostwriter write her 2005 memoir, What Remains, in which she told the story of her life, her career at ABC News, and husband’s illness and death. Her husband was Anthony Radziwill, whose mother, Lee, was the sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; John F. Kennedy Jr. was his first cousin and best friend.
Their fight was a toxic one, and continues to this day. Literally, to this day: Aviva got in touch with me and wanted to rebut a few things Carole had said about her. We spoke Friday morning. In my opinion, she made things worse.
1. Who actually told Aviva that Carole had used a ghostwriter, and why did she keep attributing the accusation to “word on the street”?
“As far as Carole and you quoting the ‘word on the street,’ the reason that I used the term ‘word on the street’ was because I wanted to protect my sources. I didn’t want to name the sources. There was somebody at Simon & Schuster, who I did name and I did tell Carole the name of that person, and I’m happy to tell you: It’s Tricia Boczkowski. I named that on-air, and it just didn’t go in. She had told me. There was somebody very, very close to John F. Kennedy Jr. — very close — who told me.”
(I emailed Tricia Boczkowski to ask her about this mess, and she has not responded.)
2. And why did Aviva believe the gossip that Bill Whitworth, whom she named on camera, and who says he wasn’t Carole’s ghostwriter, had ghostwritten What Remains?
“It was her first book. She’d never written a book before. It’s not implausible that Carole had a ghost, it’s very plausible. It was a very important book that she wrote where she spoke about people who had died. It really was not her place to tell that story. It really wasn’t her place. She did do that. And there were a lot of people who were very angry about her telling that story.”
3. Wait, what: Why isn’t it Carole’s place to tell the story of her husband’s illness and death?
“You know, I think that the Kennedy family — it was very much the experience of the Kennedy family. It’s her place to speak about that, but it was also about a family who is going down in the history of America. Maybe there were members of the family who wanted to tell that story. Maybe his mom wanted to tell that story.”
4. I found this particular assertion to be surprising and unfortunate.
Me: I think that if someone’s married to someone, it’s her story too. You read the book, I read the book, there’s not a second of it that feels exploitive. I’m not partisan here. I think if you’re saying it’s not her place to tell the story of her husband’s death, I disagree.
Aviva: That’s fine. I’m of the opinion that she’s made a career out of it. Off their name. That’s my opinion. That she’s made a career off their name, and off of that entire — what would she have written a book about? I’m of the opinion that she made a career off the name, and off the family. But that’s my opinion.
5. It was Valerie Frankel, Aviva’s ghostwriter for her memoir, whom I know only from the internet, who told me Aviva wanted to talk after the Carole interview posted.
Me: What do you say Valerie Frankel is to you?
Aviva: Valerie and I have an editor/writer relationship. I did not hand her my story and she wrote it. It was very much a process where she helped me a lot, and we worked together on it. I didn’t hand my book over to a ghostwriter and put my stamp on it. She’s a wonderful ghostwriter, and she’s ghostwritten before.
6. Aviva also wanted to talk about the Truman Capote/Harper Lee allegation she made at the RHONY reunion — that Capote had ghostwritten To Kill a Mockingbird.
Me: Scholars have disproven that, Aviva. I can send you some links.
Aviva: I know. They have disproven that. That was just an example that an iconic author like Harper Lee, people said, “Oh, you didn’t write your book.” So I don’t know why Carole thought she was so high and holy and mighty that she was impervious to the gossip that goes around in the publishing industry. It happens to the best of the best. I was very generous when I gave that to Carole.
Me: I think what you said is Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.
Aviva: No, what I said was there have been rumors going around for years that Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.
I rewatched that bit of the reunion. and here is what Aviva said: “There are also real writers who hire colleagues and writers to help them write their books. You know, To Kill a Mockingbird was supposedly done by Truman Capote.”
Here’s Carole Radziwill’s response to all of this:
“Aside from the gross factual inaccuracies and the general nastiness we’ve all grown to expect from Ms. Drescher, her assertions here are nothing more than the rantings of a woman who has proven she will do or say anything to be on a reality show. I apologize that you have wasted your time in reading it. And be careful, Buzzfeed, she’s sounds angry. Be prepared to have a leg thrown through your website. :)”