'Jersey Shore' Creator Promises Season 2 Full Of 'All Kinds of Craziness'
by Christine Champagne, posted Jul 28th 2010 1:50PM
If it weren't for SA, we wouldn't have Snooki, The Situation and Pauly D.
And who is SA?
SA is also known as SallyAnn Salsano. But the creator and executive producer of 'Jersey Shore' calls herself SA for short. In fact, she left a message on my cell phone referring to herself as SA in regards to this interview, and I almost didn't call her back until I put two and two together and realized SA was Salsano's nickname.
Anyway, Salsano, er SA, who has also produced reality shows ranging from 'A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila' to 'Tool Academy,' recently spoke with TV Squad about MTV's controversial pop culture phenomenon, which kicks off another summer of GTL -- that's gym, tanning, laundry -- and more on Thursday.
I suspect I am one of only a few -- if any -- TV critics who actually sees something in 'Jersey Shore' beyond tanning, fighting and hot tub make out sessions. I know it isn't 'The Waltons.' The Situation is no John Boy. But in many ways it is a show about family. It's like these kids belong to a tribe.
That's the thing that I think sometimes gets overlooked about this show. Look, I'm an Italian girl from Long Island, and it's kind of a celebration of who I am because I grew up in a crazy Italian household. I went to the Jersey Shore to party, and I lived at home until I was 25 even though at that point I was making more than enough money -- I was a producer on a daytime talk show -- to live on my own. It's just not what we did from a cultural standpoint. My dad was still putting gas in my car, and I was making as much money as he was, and my mom was packing my lunch. To some people, it's weird, but it wasn't weird to me.
Were you a regular at the Jersey Shore?
I went away to college in the Midwest, and in the summers everyone would be like, 'I want to come to New York City,' and they would come, and I'd be like, 'We should go to the Jersey Shore.' I always had a share house, and my friends from college would come and go, 'What is going on?' They would look at everything, and I was like, 'Why is this so weird?' They were like, 'I thought these characters were only in movies. These are real people!' I was like, 'Well, yeah, this is just like how I was raised.' So that's why with all the controversy, it almost hurts my feelings because I was like, 'All I'm doing is highlighting a subculture that I belong to.'
I'm originally from Massachusetts, and we have our own versions of The Situation and Snooki. Actually, one of the things I like most about the cast of 'Jersey Shore' is these kids are proud of who they are.
People say to me, 'Why is this cast so successful?' You know what it is: These kids are who they are. They're proud of it, and they don't apologize for it. I find that to be so healthy.
In season 1, we saw that they formed a family -- even if it was a dysfunctional family -- of their own at the shore.
They are a family, and they care about each other. They could be ready to ring each others' necks, but if one of them is like, I don't feel good, they all jump to their feet. It's like they are brothers and sisters. You can talk about your sibling, but if someone else says something, it's a problem.
I find it really disturbing when the cast members get into fights. I honestly wish there wasn't so much fighting on the show. That said, I don't think 'Jersey Shore' is any more violent than an average hockey game. Do you worry about the kids getting hurt?
I don't like to see fighting, but it's a docu-soap, and we're following eight kids at the Jersey Shore, and a lot of stuff happens. I often get asked about the Snooki thing [Snooki was punched in the face by a guy at a bar in season 1]. There was no lead up to that. What was shown on TV was what happened.
So are you at the Jersey Shore shooting as we speak?
I'm confused about what you are doing this season. Is the footage you shot in Miami season 2, and is the footage you are shooting now at the Jersey Shore season 3? Or is it all going to be put together into season 2?
There's going to be episodes this season that take place in Miami and episodes that take place in Seaside Heights.
I understand that you live in the house with the kids. Well, in separate quarters, of course, but the same building. That's dedication.
For any show that I've ever done, I literally live on the set. I'm not being remotely funny. When I did 'Tool Academy,' I moved into the Tool Academy for thirty days with my tools. At 'Jersey Shore,' I live upstairs from them, and I have a 14-camera feed. It's like a baby monitor. So I always know where everyone is and what's going on.
So the show -- in this case 'Jersey Shore' -- takes over your life.
Yes. But I just love TV. I genuinely feel like the luckiest person in the world, and I am more relaxed and calm in the control room than I am anywhere else.
Since you practically live with The Situation, can you tell me if he is a good cook?
Yes, he is. The Situation makes us crazy because obviously we are watching everything, so whenever he is cooking we get hungry. So every Sunday before he makes dinner for the house, I ask him in advance what he's making, and I order the same exact thing for my crew from catering because if I don't, everyone gets crazy because he's making chicken parm. Sometimes, he'll make an extra batch of pasta and leave it out back for us.
There's no easy segue here, but I have to ask how the cast felt when you took part in that reality roundtable conducted by 'The Hollywood Reporter,' and you made a remark referring to the house as a 'herpes nest' and talked about handing out Valtrex to the kids like it's M&Ms.
It was a complete misquote. The whole conversation is online, and it's not what I said. I wasn't referring to this show, so I won't comment about it, but it was not cool.
Moving on, the cast must be recognized everywhere they go. Snooki, for one, hardly blends in! Have you had to deal with overzealous fans while shooting season 2?
The fans have been respectful. The kids are always polite to them, but if we're in the middle of something, it's my job to help with that. You don't want every single thing interrupted.
And what about the paparazzi?
The paparazzi is tough. Anywhere we were they tried to sneak in. Some of the people from the gossip sites will call me and be like, we're not getting anything, and I'm like, I'm not putting on a puppet show.
So what can we expect this season?
It's a rollercoaster ride of makeups and breakups and all kinds of craziness. It's funny. I could not wait to get to the control room every day because there was so much unfinished business. Sammi and Ronnie were broken up. It was like, holy s---! What's going to happen when they get back in the house together? Is The Situation going to try to get back with Sammi? Angelina's coming back. How is that going to go down? Snooki's still looking for love. There's JWoww and Tom. Is she going to stay faithful to him, or is she going to hook up with Pauly again? Just the round robin of it all. As they all got into the house, I was going crazy. As the producer, I was going, 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!' When I feel that way, that's when I'm like, alright, everyone else is going to wonder what happens, too.
Is there anything unexpected we can look forward to seeing this season?
I would say yes. There is one thing that I could not believe with my own eyes that happened within the house. I was literally sitting there going, 'What is happening?'
Why did you bring Angelina back for season 2? As a fan, I didn't think she should be able to come back since she had quit the show during season 1. But, from a producer's point of view, I could see bringing her back because of all the drama she'd stir up in the house.
She had been in the mix with the cast and kept in touch with them [since she left]. She was more in touch with the guys than she was with the girls, and she may or may not have had some relations between seasons with some of the cast members. That's where her return came from, and you'll see in episode 1 when it comes down that some of the cast members did know she was coming back. It wasn't like a big, 'Da dum!' Pauly and Mike definitely knew -- that's how she know where to go, and that's how the whole thing kind of started. But not everyone was aware.
Is it different shooting with the kids now that they are so famous?
No. I've done these shows a million times, and I always say to everybody, 'Let everyone else drink your Kool-Aid -- just don't take a sip.' The minute you take a sip of the Kool-Aid, that's when it gets weird. But it's a great season. It's really fun, and the cast has done a great job of not forgetting who they are.