‘Mob Wives Chicago’ sleeps with the fishes - canceled before second season
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org November 29, 2012 1:44PM
"Mob Wives Chicago" on VH1. 2012 handout photo. (from left) Nora Schweihs, Renee Fecarotta Russo, Pia Rizza, Christina Scoleri and Leah DeSimone.
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:26AM
“Mob Wives Chicago” has been whacked.
The Midwest spin-off of the New York original will not a see second season, a VH1 spokesman confirmed.
“It’s just sad; it had so much potential,” said one of the “wives,” Pia Rizza, daughter of crooked Chicago cop Vince Rizza, a bookie and drug dealer who turned government witness.
“I guess I have to go back to work,” said the single mom, whose gig on the cable series led to an endorsement deal with Cold Steel Vodka. “Where that’s going to go I have no idea because I don’t have the show.”
“Mob Wives Chicago” debuted in June and ended its 11-episode run in August. It followed the finger-pointing, hair-pulling, name-calling exploits of five local women whose ties to organized crime are tenuous compared to the Staten Island cast.
Last season on New York’s “Mob Wives,” the ex-husband of star Renee Graziano, whose sister Jennifer Graziano produces the franchise, wore a wire that helped send Graziano’s father back to prison.
The Chicago version didn’t have nearly as much drama — or viewers. New York, which returns for a third season in January, boasted ratings three times as high as the 500,000 or so who tuned in for Chicago’s Sunday night episodes on VH1.
“It was a terrible time to be aired at Sunday nights in the summer,” said Rizza, who thinks the Olympics contributed to the show’s ratings challenges.
Said fellow cast member Leah DeSimone, “I don’t feel we were advertised enough. Season two would have brought a lot more ratings than season one. We didn’t film a reunion, but I can assure you it would have been very juicy.”
DeSimone and Rizza said they knew the prospects for a sophomore season were shaky when producers didn’t pursue a reunion show to cap off the first season.
“They even said don’t go anywhere the first two weeks of August,” DeSimone said. “I missed a wedding out of town because I thought there was going to be a reunion. How fair was that to my family? Week one passed. Week two. No one returned my calls.”
DeSimone said she finally got a call from someone at VH1 in October saying the network was pulling the plug on the show. She said the person told her it had something to do with an “accent barrier.”
“I don’t know if they meant it was hard to understand us?” DeSimone said. She didn’t press for details because she got the call while at the hospital with her mom, who has cancer.
The VH1 spokesman declined to answer further questions. “Mob Wives” creator and producer Jennifer Graziano didn’t return a call seeking comment.
DeSimone initially got involved with the show through her longtime friend and castmate Christina Scoleri of Downers Grove. The two women have since had a falling-out. DeSimone said she no longer talks to former castmates Nora Schweihs or Renee Fecarotta Russo, either.
“Renee called me a ‘tranny,’ ” DeSimone said. “There was a serious Twitter war.
“The police contacted me and told me I was threatening Christina,” she said, referring to a tweet she wrote about doing something “Taylor Street-style.”
“It was a prank,” she added. “If I’m gonna go after someone, I’m not going to put it on Twitter. I’m just gonna do it.”
Despite the lost friendships and disappointment about the show’s short run, DeSimone doesn’t regret doing “Mob Wives Chicago.”
“That was just my stepping stone,” she said. “I know I’m an asset to TV. I didn’t know that about myself prior to the show … I will be back in the industry. I will be on bigger screens.”
As for Rizza, she’s taking hair extension classes and hopes to start her own business.
“Everything is a learning experience in life,” she said.
She just wishes this learning experience had lasted longer.
“I have so much to tell,” she said, “and there’s no season two to continue my story.”