Snooki walked into the “Jersey Shore” house on the first day of shoot in 2009 and shouted, “Hello! The party’s here!”
On Thursday night, the party returned.
MTV’s last cultural icons before the dissolution of the mono-culture returned to Hollywood to celebrate the show’s reboot season, “Jersey Shore: Family Reunion.” Leaning into the buzz, MTV threw a red carpet bash at HYDE on Sunset.
“We put a lot of blood, sweat, tears… and alcohol in to filming this show,” nickname-less “Jersey” touchstone character Vinny Guadagnino said, welcoming the crowd. “You will not be disappointed. We want to party Jersey style in L.A. tonight.”
Partying “L.A.-style” meant having unaffiliated celebrities show up to support them. Hours after the cast appeared on his (surprisingly honest and meaty) podcast, Spencer Pratt joined this conclave of Viacom Hall of Famers. So did Tiffany “New York” Pollard, fleeting “Bachelor” villain Chad Johnson and some “Bachelor” regulars who amplified the spectacle.
“I’m all Pratt, all the time,” Shore creator/executive producer SallyAnn Salsano told TheWrap.
The Jersey cast is now seven strong: Nicole Polizzi (f.k.a. Snooki), Jenni ‘JWoww’ Farley and Deena Cortese are the sole surviving ladies.
The original four guys are still intact: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, DJ Pauly D and Guadagnino.
In person, the nicknames have been retired. MTV staff, guests and media on the red carpet referred to “Nicole” and “Mike” in lieu of “Snooki” or “Sitch.” For the former “Situation,” he’s now the swan: everyone’s favorite roommate.
Within Sorrentino’s earshot, multiple cast mates said they used to hate living with him. “He was the worst,” I heard. After multiple years of sobriety and a career focus as the director of public outreach for a rehab facility in New Jersey, his stock is up.
“I had to come from a different angle,” Sorrentino said during our one-on-one. “In my 20s, I was just like a pure savage. I’m a different person,” he continued. “I worked hard to change myself and put in a lot of hard work, and I’m proud to show people.”
Salsano, “Jersey Shore’s” Eve, had just landed from Panama City Beach, Florida. There, she’s in the middle of shooting the second season of spinoff series “Floribama Shore.” (Side note: That show’s cast is all returning.)
During the height of the “Jersey Shore” ascent in the winter of 2010, the cast famously held out for massive pay raises for upcoming seasons just weeks after the show’s debut. They got them. At the time, creator/showrunner Salsano warned the cast that reality fame and fortune is transient.
“When I originally said it, I was the enemy,” Salsano said. “All their agents and lawyers would tell them, ‘This is it forever!’ Now that we’re back, they’re all like ‘Thank God!’ and we all have a newfound respect for each other because, unfortunately, I think I was right about what happens.”
Salsano, her 495 Productions and Viacom strategized to secure a form of superstar cast insurance for future shows in the wake of “Jersey Shore.” When they launched “Party Down South” on CMT — a countrified version of “Shore” — they produced two different casts running in parallel seasons. Anyone and everyone was replaceable.
While Salsano wouldn’t field questions on whether the cast fees and perks were “MFN” on the “Shore” reboot (meaning “most favored nations,” an industry deal term that means everyone gets paid the same as the best deal), the cast insisted that they are united together and with production.
“I think overall we were all grateful for the fact that this was happening,” Polizzi told me on the way in. “We weren’t going to be dicks about it and be like give us ‘this.‘ We were just like, ‘Thank you for giving us this opportunity.'”
The cast shares a long-running iPhone thread that goes back over a year. Salsano delivered the “greenlight” news to cast members directly, reaching Cortese while she was on her honeymoon in October.
On this night, the creative ensemble, cast and Viacom hung as tight and impenetrable as one of those Sunday night family pasta dinners of summers gone by.
“I speak for (MTV President) Chris McCarthy and everyone at MTV to say that we are so happy to have this family back and part of the MTV family,” Kate Keough, SVP of consumer marketing said in introducing the cast and a clip.
After posing (with Polizzi in the middle) on the red carpet, the cast tucked into the prime dance floor booth that was surprisingly booze-free at the start. Guadagnino handled the introductions on behalf of the cast. Suddenly, tequila shots appeared for all (except Sorrentino).
“We can’t tell you how much this means to us that we have this second chance to do this again,” Guadagnino said.
They are going to get to do it again… again, because MTV already picked up Season 2.
Sorrentino is facing sentencing on a federal tax evasion case stemming from earnings during his initial run on the show and subsequent celebrity endeavors. Nevertheless, Season 2 is still in his immediate future even as the next few years are a mystery.
“Sentencing is coming up and, that’s it — the judge decides,” he said. “There’s a possibility that I could get probation. There’s a possibility of another outcome. I have to be ready for both, and that’s it. I take it one day at a time, and I’m very happy of the way that I’ve held myself the past number of years in order to get here.”
“In my opinion, there has been a huge void the past five years for some real blockbuster (reality TV),” Sorrentino said as the night began. “(We) wanted to prove to say, ‘Hey, we can still do this. We can still be the top reality show.'”
In an Orwellian indicator of red-hat #MAGA propaganda bleed, he added “We could still bring greatness back to reality TV (emphasis added), and we’ll show you. Now it seems like there’s a big, big, big, big wave coming, and I’m ready to ride it.”
“Jersey Shore: Family Vacation” debuts on MTV on April 5 at 8 p.m.