To watch all the hours of reality television that SallyAnn Salsano has produced — from “The Bachelor” to “Jersey Shore” — you would need to spend more than a month staring at your TV.
As it turns out, Salsano has managed to squeeze in some couch time herself, studying the genre and applying its lessons to her latest show — Fox’s revival of “Paradise Hotel.” You can watch an exclusive clip of the first episode above.
“It’s kind of like if ‘Big Brother,’ ‘The Bachelor,’ and ‘Survivor’ had a baby, this would be its love child,” Salsano told TheWrap, speaking from a remote village in Mexico where she is breathing new life into the dating show that first aired on Fox in 2003.
Though Salsano wasn’t involved in the making of the original series, she was a vocal participant from her sofa.
“I never missed a frame of it. I was the biggest ‘Paradise Hotel’ fan of all time,” she said, adding that she once went to a live taping as an audience member.
Salsano’s career in TV actually had its start in the student employment office at the University of Missouri, where she was studying to be a CPA.
“There was a flyer hanging in my college office for an internship,” she recalled. “I walked by, and it was like, ‘Call 1-800 93-SALLY.’ I still know it ’cause I operated the phone for so many years as an intern.”
It was the number for “The Sally Jessy Raphael Show,” where she would land her first gig. (She also interned for Howard Stern.) Salsano went on to work on shows including “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” in the early 2000s, and has also worked on “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Party Challenge,” “Tool Academy,” “Tattoo Nightmares” and the original “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila,” to name a few. She started 495 Productions in 2006, then went on to her biggest show of all, “Jersey Shore,” followed by its many spinoffs, among them “Double Shot at Love With DJ Pauly D and Vinny,” which currently airs on MTV.
“I love the thrill, the rush, the panic, the oh-my-God-it-may-not-happen of it all,” she says.
So when Fox called her in for a meeting about a secret new project, her Spidey-sense started tingling.
“I sat down and I was like, ‘If this is ‘Paradise Hotel’ I’m gonna f—ing die,'” she recalled telling Fox. “I just said it jokingly, and they looked at me like, ‘Of course she knows what it is.’ And I was like, ‘Oddly, I had a feeling, and I just started watching all the episodes last night again.'”
The basic premise of the show is this: A group of singles checks into a tropical resort, and the longer they stay, the closer they get to a big cash prize at the end. The drama comes as they flirt and finagle their way into making romantic connections, while trying to avoid the weekly elimination ceremony.
“So you go through this whole thing hoping that every single person’s intentions are clear and real, but in the end, you find out: Was the other person in it for love or money?” Salsano said.
Refreshing the show for today’s audiences was easier than one might think, according to Salsano. “Get a more modern style of jeans and change the girls’ highlights, and the [original] cast would still stand up today,” she said.
To modernize it a bit more, this time viewers can play along at home by chiming in on social media with opinions as to who stays and who goes.
The new reboot, hosted by Kristin Cavallari, premieres Thursday night on Fox. In subsequent weeks, it will air Monday and Wednesday at 9/8c, with special live episodes during the same time slot on Thursdays.
Suffice it to say, it may be a while before Salsano can grab some of her own couch time again.
“I’m kind of relentless,” she said.
“Paradise Hotel” premieres May 9 at 8/7c on Fox.