Entertainment headlines the past few days have been full of stories about the “Jersey Shore” cast. One had Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino leaving the show. Another had Vinny Guadagnino walking off. TMZ ran footage of Snooki acting up, if not outrageous, in public. Just business as usual, according to SallyAnn Salsano, the woman responsible for the phenomenon that’s added a new lifestyle, as well as a new lexicon (GTL – gym, tan and laundry – among other bon mots), to the culture. Salsano heads 495 Productions, the company that produces the MTV hit. A self-described “Italian girl from Long Island,” she grew up living the life that became the TV series. “I was Snooki,” she told the Daily Beast last January. “I woke up and was like, ‘Oh, that was a crazy night.’ That’s what you do.” Now Salsano produces popular TV series, including TV Guide’s hit “Nail Files,” MTV’s “Dating Disasters,” and “Repo Games” for Spike. With a new season of “Jersey Shore” debuting on August 4 (the one shot in Italy) and another currently in production back at the shore, we asked the dynamo to give us the inside scoop.
Can you talk about the rumors of cast members leaving? What’s happening there?
I can’t talk about anything that’s going on during the current season. It’s always fun for us to read all the rumors when we actually know what’s going on, though. We’re always just like “oh, geez.”
So you’re living with this cast around the clock, right?
It’s insane, but you can’t have it any other way. In Italy, I saw every bit of footage because I was there. So now we’re at the Shore, and when I get the cuts from Italy sent to me, I can weigh in, ’cause I’ve seen everything go down. And if you don’t see it go down, how do you participate?
Are you sleeping at all?
When I’m dead I’ll work it out. You know, when they sleep, I sleep. When they nap, I nap. I would say it’s like a baby monitor. I go to sleep, and then all of the sudden I hear them yelling or screaming or laughing and then I wake up.
Watch Snooki’s Recent Bad Behavior:
How challenging was it to shoot in Italy? It seems like there were a lot of restrictions put on you guys.
It wasn’t that bad. To be honest, the city was awesome to us and super supportive. A lot of the rules that were out there were spun out of control. But even I started believing it. I was like, Wait a minute. What’s going to start happening when I get there? I just met with these people, this is not what they told me.
What kind of things?
It’s just like when you follow the law in America. They have an open container policy, so you can’t drink and walk down the street with alcohol. Well, we don’t do that anyway. We were welcome in all the clubs. But it was up to the individual establishment if they wanted to have us there. Like even in Season One, in Seaside Heights, a lot of places didn’t want to have us in their establishments because they didn’t know what the show was, and there was another show at the Jersey Shore that was not so favorable, so we had a hard time. I mean, Seaside Heights was the only city that welcomed us with open arms – that’s why we wound up there. But it was the biggest blessing in disguise because now, you can see the difference from Season One to now – you see how busy the streets are, all the hotels have no vacancy. It’s kind of cool.
But isn’t the flip side that with all the traffic and attention, it becomes more difficult to make this experience authentic?
It is and it’s not. That’s a testament to the crew and the cast. It’s up to us to keep it as real as possible. And it’s up to our cast to make sure that they’re acting as they’ve always acted and not drink the Kool-Aid.
And you don’t think that they have?
[Pause] No, I mean…It’s just different because I’ve known them since day one. They don’t really get that way with us. We’ll look at them and go, “Really?”
There have been rumors that you’re swapping out casts – that you might want to recast the group.
The show hasn’t even been picked up for Season Six yet! Wherever that came from, we have no idea. We haven’t even talked about next summer yet. We just made the decision to go straight from Florence to here, and there’s been no talk of anything else.
Are you happy with the cast as is? Have you ever thought about changing anything, and what that might look like?
You always wonder, What if? But this cast is amazing. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I haven’t been to that point yet, so I don’t know.
Presumably you have a lot of extra footage that’s not made it to air – and probably a lot of it contains material that can’t be seen on TV. Are there any plans to do something with that?
It’s all footage that’s owned by the network, and there’s broadcast standards on everything. We’re a docu-series, so we shoot whatever’s going on. But we always have to follow broadcast standards, which we always tell the cast to be thankful for.
How much extra footage do you have?
Oh God, who knows. We shoot seven hundred hours to one. Forget it! This is like the one show, I will say, that you could actually air in real time. We should have a web stream. Even when they’re doing nothing it’s completely entertaining.
Even though there are no plans for Season Six yet, do you see an end date for the show?
I feel like it should never end. If “The Real World” went on for 25 seasons with a bunch of people in a house, and it’s still one of my favorites, why can’t this work?
I would take it any day. We can grow up with them.