It’s baaaaack… the show that started the franchise that has spread around the country like the flu.  “Real Housewives of Orange County” is back for its seventh season and whatever they tell you – watch out – they are not happy about being upstaged by the ladies in Beverly Hills.   Michael Cook spoke with Gretchen Rossi, Tamra Barney and Heather Dubrow about the new season…

"Real Housewives of Orange County" Season 7

Michael: Do any of you ladies feel that any of the other casts, like “Beverly Hills” have stolen any of your thunder? You are, after all, the original cast that started the franchise.

Heather Dubrow:  I’ve watched the Beverly Hills franchise, and I think it only helps the franchise in general.

Tamra Barney: I think they’re all great, I think that each city brings something different to the table; I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other.

Michael: Heather, as the newest cast member who did you find yourself gravitating towards? Who did you have the most friction with?

Heather: I got close to most of the ladies, I was really pleasantly surprised at how we got along. I had never even seen the show before. I will say though, Alexis and I had some friction, but you will just have to “watch what happens”!

Michael: Tamra and Gretchen, what was your first impression of Heather?

Gretchen: I don’t hold back, which is no surprise. For our first party she came in with guns blazing, which I love about her now. At first, I thought she was a bit pretentious; I think the words I used at the time were that she has a “stick up her ass”. The second time I met her is said “wow I like you a lot better”! She has a great sense of humor and has become a good friend through the season; I’m glad I got to know the “real” Heather!

Tamra: I liked Heather from the minute I met her; we got along really well. She was nice, classy, yet elegant, so I didn’t know if she’d fit in. we don’t always “roll” like that on the show if you get what I mean.

Michael: Gretchen, there are hints of tension between you & Vicki in the trailer this season. Can you eleaborate.

Gretchen:Well, a big story point comes from the fact that Vicki has always had a lot to say about Slade and his issues with paying child support, she always has an opinion on it. Yet now, she’s dating a man who has had similar issues. She’s still being judgemental and a hypocrite. It escalated from there. She and I got into it when she said that I had no idea what it was like to be the mother of a sick child, yet Slade’s son Grayson is very ill. I totally blew my gasket, which you’ll see.

Michael: Based upon the trailers for the upcoming season, can we expect Tamra & Gretchen to make up?

Tamra: Our relationship was filled with lots of outside influences, and it escalated. It got to the point where we were attacking each other for the sake of the show; it was time to build a bridge and get over it. We realized that we genuinely like each other and get along really well. We’ve become very close.

Gretchen: Last season, I was very bitter and angry, and that’s not who I am; I am a very positive person. I allowed all of the tension, fights, and external people creating tension to get in the way. We needed to move forward and forgive, as well as ask for forgiveness. In the process we ended up very good friends and getting to know each other. Slade and Eddie (Tamra’s boyfriend) have even been riding together, and the four of us spent some time at Christmas together; who would’ve thought right.

Michael: What can we expect from each of you this season?

Heather: I’ll be getting introduced to the audience, it was great meeting everyone, like I said, I’d never seen the show before.

Tamra: You’ll see me (hopefully) finalizing my divorce, figuring out who I am as a single mom. I learn a lot about myself, I break some definitely break some old habits. It’s dealing with three kids who are also dealing with a divorce as well. I’m still going strong with Eddie, we continue to try to take it slow. I am also opening two new businesses, a group fitness studio and a wine of the month club. I also have a cosmetic procedure that is not done very often in Orange County!

Gretchen: This year I have a moment of feeling beyond overwhelmed, it happened when Slade and I are producing an improv show that we did. I’ve done a lot of hosting jobs, and I thought for this event I would just be hosting; then Slade wanted me to do more. I didn’t want to do stand-up.

You’ll see as the storyline develops, Slade says some things about the other women in his act that lead to tension. You’ll also see me pursue my music career, I write a song called “Unbreakable”. It’s inspired by Slade’s son Grayson who is fighting cancer.

I get to work with the Pussycat Dolls in Las Vegas, and get to perform on stage! I’m still working on the relationship with Slade and I, trying to figure out the next step. I want babies, but I don’t know if I would do it without being married, and I don’t know if I want to be married yet.

Michael: Ladies, for each of you, what are your “must have” beauty tips?

Gretchen: I would say always have a tan; it makes you look a lot better!

Tamra: For me, its healthy living; healthy eating is a must.

Heather: I would say go see Dr. Dubrow; LOL! (Heather’s husband is renowned plastic surgeon Terry Dubrow)

Michael: The “Housewives” franchise is notorious for bringing back former castmates during the seasons. Any former housewives lurking around the O.C. that we will see this season?

Gretchen: Peggy (Tanous, new housewife last year) is back in the first couple of episodes, but she’s not an official housewife this year.

Tamra: Jeana (Keough, an original housewife) does come back, we pick up where we left off (the poolside catfight of last year closed out the season last year).

“Real Housewives of Orange County” Season 7 begins February 7 at 10 am on Bravo.  For more, click here.