Dolores Catania reveals she was asked to join RHONJ Season 1 — Here’s why she turned it down

Dolores Catania
Dolores Catania didn’t join the cast of RHONJ until Season 7. Pic credit: Bravo

When Real Housewives of New Jersey premiered in 2009, Bravo described the cast as the most affluent and drama-filled women in the Garden State.

In order to cast interesting people for the series, the producers scouted groups of friends at a local hair salon, Chateau Salon in Franklin Lakes. We now know that Dolores Catania was one of those women.

While Dolores made brief cameos on earlier seasons of the show, she recently opened up that she was initially approached to be a full-time Housewife and how different the series would have been had she said yes.

Dolores didn’t feel the time was right to join Season 1

Dolores was a guest recently on Two T’s in a Pod, a pop culture podcast hosted by Housewives alums Tamra Judge and Teddi Mellencamp. During her interview, Dolores revealed that Bravo approached her during the casting process for Season 1 of the New Jersey franchise, but she turned down the offer.

“I decided not to do it because things got a little weird for me. I had not a great feeling back then about it because my kids were little. So Danielle Staub took my place,” Dolores told listeners. Tamra and Teddi gasped in shock, because this was not known before. RHONJ would have been very different if Dolores was part of the cast during Season 1 instead of Danielle. Teresa’s famous table flip probably wouldn’t have happened, which became one of the most iconic moments in Real Housewives history. 

She revealed that something the producers did made her change her mind, and inferred that the staff twisted something Dolores said, and told her friend group in an attempt to stir up drama. “That’s the way they produce, nobody knew [production’s] tricks yet. And I was very offended that my friends questioned that I had said that.” Dolores told producers she was out and no longer wanted to be on the show.

Dolores found the right time to join the cast after personal growth

When Dolores finally decided to join the cast as a main Housewife in 2016, she felt the timing was finally right. She said, “Years later, I had a lot more to offer, I think. Timing is everything.” She said a combination of life events happened in the meantime, including her ex-husband Frank Catania losing money in a bad investment, working multiple jobs, and being engaged to someone for a short amount of time. The mom of two was also older and wiser, and her kids, Gabrielle and Frankie, were growing up. Dolores said the time made more sense than it did during Season 1.

Dolores also said that at the time that Bravo decided to cast New Jersey, “The Sopranos were a big deal. People were intrigued by New Jersey, and the way we spoke and the way we acted. However, we didn’t know the rest of the county was nothing like that,” she joked.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Bravo.