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'Secrets and Wives': Meet the Long Island women starring in Bravo's new reality show

The cast of Bravo's new reality show "Secrets

The cast of Bravo's new reality show "Secrets and Wives," from left, Amy Miller, Cori Goldfarb, Susan Doneson, Liza Sandler, Andi Black and Gail Greenberg photographed at Liza Sandler's home on Tuesday May 12, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

When Amy Miller mentioned to a TV producer at Bravo three years ago that she knew a group of women who'd be perfect for a new reality series, she'd no intention of being in the show herself. The women, all residents of Long Island's tony North Shore, had survived the ups and downs of 10 marriages, seven divorces and more than a dozen kids among them. Bravo loved the idea.

Over two years, the cable network developed the show, settling on six women -- Miller included -- to star in "Secrets and Wives," which they shot in the area last summer and premieres June 2 at 10 p.m. Bravo, of course, has burnished its reputation with the outrageous antics and outsize egos of the juggernaut "Real Housewives" franchise and shorter-lived "Princesses: Long Island." But "Secrets" is different, its cast members insist, focused more on friends than frenemies, compassion than catfights.

On a recent breezy afternoon, the six -- Miller, Andi Black, Susan Donesen, Gail Greenberg, Cori Goldfarb and Liza Sandler -- gather at Sandler's mansion in Old Westbury, sitting around a kitchen table to chat with a reporter. Their show may be considered "unscripted," but their easy banter flows like dialogue from a screenplay -- imagine "The First Wives Club," Lawn Guyland edition.

Susan: "Are we telling our real ages, or are we going to lie?"

Cori (smiling at the reporter): "He knows we're thirrrrty . . . something."

Liza: "I tell my kids that all the time."

Cut to three tiny dogs cocking their heads as laughter engulfs the room.



Long Island's North Shore has always held a certain mystique, ever since the Vanderbilts and others built their castles here, and F. Scott Fitzgerald immortalized the place in a tale about a chap named Gatsby. Today the Gold Coast gilt still shines -- with its country clubs, Miracle Mile shopping malls and, everywhere you turn, another Mercedes, another Range Rover.

The six women of "Secrets" have lived in the area for years. And it perhaps says something about the insular North Shore that this random group has so many connections. Amy knows Cori from college. Cori and Susan's children are classmates. Cori once dated Liza's ex-husband. Andi dated Gail's ex. Amy married -- then divorced -- Liza's ex-fiance. And everyone, it seems, has taken aerobics classes with (super-fit) Gail.

Got it?

The women say they were excited, but cautious, about being on TV. They had families to consider. Most of their children (many college-age or older) endorsed Mom's decision, though not all agreed to be on the show -- or mentioned.



The series will have its challenges. For one -- the blondness. A reality show on Long Island, and producers found . . . one brunette? It may be hard, at first, to tell the players apart. Then there's the concept: A reality show . . . with heart.

Let's take a moment, while you digest that.

There'll be crying and melodrama, the women assure, but no cattiness. Nothing too embarrassing.

Which unfortunately begs the question: Why watch?

People watch reality shows to see others humiliate themselves. That's not an absolute rule, but it's very often the case. So what motivates these women to be raw meat in our current cultural blood sport?

Back to the kitchen.

Cori: "It's about girl power."

Liza: "A sisterhood."

Andi: "You see us dealing with issues everyone has, whether you have money or you don't. To me, that's what the show's about."

Susan: "Look, we've made mistakes. But we're here to show women there is love after divorce. You can have a second chance at life."

Andi: "Or third. Or fourth."

More laughter.

Cori: "I know the negative comments have already started online, and that hurts."

Liza: "They don't know us. The show isn't even on yet."

Cori: "I worry how it'll affect my kids. But they've been exposed to this social media world. They get it, more than we do. They ask, 'Mom, what if people think you're a total idiot?' They're as protective of me as I am of them. But I told them, 'This'll be great. We all know each other, we have each others' back, and at the end of the day it's about empowering women.' "




The life of the party -- former wife of Jay Black and former backup singer for Jay and the Americans. "I thought things might get uncomfortable, but our friendships grew. That was surprising. You know how girls can be."



BY THE NUMBERS 3 marriages, 3 divorces, 3 children




The talker -- her husband served time for "Martha Stewart crimes," she says (aka securities fraud). "Yeah, we're gonna get haters. You can't dwell on the negative."


GREW UP IN Oceanside

BY THE NUMBERS 2 marriages, 1 divorce, 3 children

STATUS Married



The optimist -- working with her husband at their new spa. "I feel like a TV professional now. I love the terminology. If I'm running late, I tell my friends, 'Just stand by.' "

LIVES IN Old Westbury

GREW UP IN Edison, New Brunswick and Springfield, New Jersey

BY THE NUMBERS 1 marriage, 0 divorces, 4 children

STATUS Married



The fitness buff -- married to a plastic surgeon. "I thought the show might feel intrusive, but it was the antithesis of that. I was never cognizant of the cameras. It felt natural."

LIVES IN Woodbury

GREW UP IN Harrison, New York

BY THE NUMBERS 2 marriages, 1 divorce

STATUS Married



The searcher -- looking for fulfillment with an on-again, off-again fiance and still-at-home grown son. "People ask, 'How can you do this?' It was fun. I mean, this was fun."


GREW UP IN Baldwin and Manhasset Hills

BY THE NUMBERS 1 marriage, 1 divorce, 2 children

STATUS Engaged



The survivor -- her marriage to a hedge-fund manager ended in tabloid scandal. "I've always been misunderstood. Maybe it's how I look, people wanna pass judgment. Doesn't bother me."

LIVES IN Old Westbury

GREW UP IN East Rockaway

BY THE NUMBERS 1 marriage, 1 divorce, 2 children


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