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Viral videos and reality TV don't commonly feature folks in their 70s and 80s.

Unless we're talking about the Golden Sisters, three Bronx-born siblings who

have all lived in the West San Fernando Valley since the 1960s.

Mary Bartnicki, 81, and 73-year-old twins Josie Cavalluzzi and Teresa Dahlquist --

all nee Conticchio -- became Internet sensations this summer when over 3 million

viewers hit the YouTube video of them frankly and uproariously discussing Kim

Kardashian's sex tape.

Other vignettes of the sisters' takes on pop culture topics proved popular, too, and now they're on real TV. A one-hour "Golden Sisters" special airs on Oprah Winfrey's OWN at 10 p.m. Sunday.

In two separate episodes, Josie, Mary and Teresa prepare for Dec. 21's predicted end of the world and, in case that doesn't happen, the recently widowed Mary takes a stab at online dating.

"I didn't do it!" Mary proclaimed regarding the latter during a joint interview this week with her sisters.

"Yes she did," Teresa instantly corrected in the manner that's the hallmark of the women's lovingly contentious give-and-take. "She did! You had lunch with four guys."

"Well, yeah," Mary reluctantly admitted. "But that's it. I mean, we didn't spend the night or anything. Just lunch."

Whether criticizing Kim's apparent lack of erotic enthusiasm ("What is her problem? She's just laying there," Mary wonders at one juncture) or reading "Fifty Shades of Grey" and thinking aloud about how much this or that physical act would hurt, the sisters' rapid-fire commentary boasts an expert comic balance of shock with prurient fascination and salty worldliness with a sense of grandmotherly propriety. And they express it all with an upfront, New York naturalness that seems totally spontaneous and honest.

They can also cuss like construction workers, meaning their videos are filled with bleeps. The whole thing is the brainchild of veteran reality TV producer Eric Schotz, president and CEO of Encino-based LMNO Productions. It was inspired, though, when Teresa -- a talent agent whose accomplishments include discovering a kid actor named Shia LaBeouf -- showed him a pitch reel for a different idea she'd had.

“She came in and pitched a show called 'My Son, the Plumber'," Schotz recalled. "Candidly, the show sucked. What happened was, one of her grandchildren said he just wanted to be famous in it and Teresa said, 'Your music sucks' - at which point we turned to her and said, 'You're interesting.' She goes, 'I'm nothing. I have two sisters and they're funnier.' We met with them and signed them the next day."

For more than a year, Schotz shopped the ladies to every network in town and was uniformly told that no one would watch old people, no matter how funny they were. Then he got the idea to just put their Kardashian commentary up on the Web -- on YouTube and several other sites -- and see what would happen.

It got two million hits in 24 hours -- all by people under the age of 50, Schotz claims, citing Google Analytics. (It's now well past the 3 million mark on YouTube alone.) The next day, three networks offered deals; Oprah's, all decided, was the best fit.

"We're very excited about meeting Oprah," said Teresa, who has nine grandchildren. "We will eventually. But we met her people, and we have so much fun with them. They laugh at everything we say. Isn't that fun when you say something and someone just busts out laughing and you don't know why?"

Rita Mullin, OWN's executive vice president of programming and development, said it's actually not hard to understand their appeal.

"The ladies are a web phenomenon with a growing online fan base," Mullin said in an e-mail. "We think their spirited passion for pop culture and most importantly their love for laughter is something our viewers will find contagious."

It's hoped Sunday's special will garner enough ratings to lead to more episodes.

The sisters have already been flown to New York - first class, they proudly note -- to be guests on Anderson Cooper's talk show. And they've just returned from an extended weekend in Vegas, where Mary -- who has two sons, four grandsons and one great-granddaughter who lives with her -- made a killing in a poker tournament.

Josie has four children and seven grandchildren, and owns the Woodland Hills salon Michelangelo's Hair House, where Mary also works three days a week.

"In the last year, I have had more fun than my entire life," said Josie. "I compare it to my freshman year in college, when I was so excited and having so much fun. Here I am, 73 and I can say this was one of the funnest years of my entire life."

"I hate to say that it's the most fun I ever had because my husband passed away last year, but this is the best time I've had in my life!" the mirthfully matter-of-fact Mary added. "I mean, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm a merry widow, but I have to tell you the truth: I've never been happier in my life.

"And to me, when I do die -- what a finale," Mary added. "What a way to go, to leave this Earth famous. I mean, Betty White was an actress her whole life. But me, now, they're gonna know who I am? I'm ecstatic."

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

San Fernando Valley’s ‘Golden Sisters’ Get Their OWN Reality Show

By Bob Strauss