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'Russian Dolls' Star Promises to Put Brighton Beach & Partying, Russian Style, on the Map

by Jean Bentley, posted Aug 11th 2011 3:00PM
Marina Levitis, Russian DollsWhile the 'Jersey Shore' kids get their GTL on in Italy tonight, Lifetime will broadcast the adventures of another subset of American culture: the animal print-clad characters of Brooklyn's Russian-American Brighton Beach neighborhood.

'Russian Dolls' (premieres Thu., Aug. 11, 10:30PM ET on Lifetime) was originally conceived as another addition to the 'Real Housewives' franchise, but since Lifetime picked up the show it's been getting comparisons to our favorite Macaroni Rascals.

Star Marina Levitis seems to bridge the gap between 'Jersey Shore' and 'Housewives.' The 34-year-old is raising two children, a 13-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, with her husband, Michael, but is intimately familiar with the nightlife as co-owner of the famous Russian nightclub Rasputin, located in Brighton Beach.

The soon-to-be reality star, who immigrated to America 20 years ago, called AOL TV while en route to a photo shoot for Steppin' Out magazine -- she's going to be on the cover -- and chatted about how she became involved in the show, whether 'Russian Dolls' actually is anything like 'Jersey Shore,' and what her kids think about the TV cameras following them around.

How did you get involved in 'Russian Dolls'?
The creators came to [me and my husband]. They heard of our restaurant, Rasputin, and came to it, because it's one of the most famous Russian nightclubs and restaurants and cabaret clubs. The food keeps on coming with lots of vodka, you know, Russian style! The party basically starts at 8 or 8:30 and goes on all night long. All the women are gorgeous and dressed up, and the men are crazy and partying all night long.

They wanted to capture this, so they thought the best people to ask were us since we knew the area and all the most colorful people. My husband said "The most colorful person I know is my wife," so they asked me, and I said I would think about it since you don't know how it's going to look at the end -- you don't do the editing, they do. But we saw the first episode and we didn't get to see the whole thing but it looked pretty good. We are very excited and think its going to be amazing for the Russians and all the businesses in the neighborhood. We're going to put Brighton Beach and the surrounding areas on the map, and people are going to come to New York and want to visit us to see what it's all about -- get that Russian-American experience.

Do you live in Brighton Beach?
I live in Manhattan Beach, which is more of a family-friendly and upscale neighborhood. Brighton is more of the businesses, restaurants and coffee shops. Manhattan Beach is right next to Brighton Beach and it's more like a suburb. We have two kids and we're actually the only ones on the show with a family and little kids growing up in the house. I'm the only one who's in my 30s -- most of the women are in their 20s, 40s or 50s. For a Lifetime audience, it's really important because I have a family and most of the women can relate since they have children of their own and deal with the husband, the mother-in-law, the house and everything.

Do you watch reality TV?
Absolutely! I don't watch regular TV. Just 'Kardashians,' 'Housewives,' 'Project Runway' and shows on Bravo and Lifetime. I love them!

There have been a lot of comparisons to 'Jersey Shore'; have you watched it before?
I've seen parts of 'Jersey Shore,' but I cant really make it through the whole episode. I think I'm a little too old, because they target a younger crowd. My son who's 13 watches it, but for me, I can't relate to them at all. Most of the people in their 20s like to party and hook up so there's nothing wrong with that. There is a time for this and there is a time for what I'm dealing with, families and making your business successful.

There are the women in their 40s who already have kids who have grown up and then there are people like my mother who is having more fun than the kids! You'll see that, but there are all the ages and different stages of life where everyone deals with their own issues, which I think is amazing because people can relate to that. They just get it from our perspective, our neighborhood and our culture. But people are people, it makes no difference if you're Russian or American, we all go through these stages in life and issues to some degrees. This is why I think our show is different, because everyone can watch it, everybody can relate.

Russian DollsWhat do your kids think about you being on the show?
They are both very excited. They love it and enjoy having cameras at home. My daughter didn't really understand so she didn't even pretend. If she felt like crying she would go and cry or throw a tantrum. At that age it's easy because you don't really understand what's going on. My son is already a big boy so he understands. He was a little more reserved with the cameras.

Your Lifetime bio describes you as "dripping in furs and diamonds." Can you tell me about your personal style?
I graduated from FIT with a business degree so I think I have good taste. It's my taste and might not be mainstream taste, but I want to bring a little bit of Russian culture with all the glamor, all the color and all the bling. I just like to be very colorful and very much about the appearance. Rasputin has everyone dressing very fine, so it's a part of our business, culture and my personality. I am definitely into fashion; definitely into jewelry. I experiment with my looks. I change my hair color every month so it's definitely a real part of me.

'Russian Dolls' premieres Thu., Aug. 11 at 10:30PM ET on Lifetime.

Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean

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Check out my audition video for this show, trust me i have MORE scoops about these cast members then anyone, plus behind the scenes info



Oy Mamachka: Russian Dolls To Premier On Lifetime

--Roman "The Solution"

August 11 2011 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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