MTV on Snooki leaving 'Jersey Shore' house: 'It's not a prison'
A pregnant Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi has moved out of the house.
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has sworn off drinking.
Deena Cortese and Jenni “JWoww” Farley have committed to monogamous relationships.
The wildest cast in reality TV is starting to seem downright … grown up. What’s Jersey Shore coming to?
“They’re starting to take those next steps into adulthood,” says MTV’s executive VP of programming and head of production, Chris Linn, giving the network’s first interview about the sixth season of the reality megahit. “What’s going to be different this season is how much their lives had changed.”
Last week, the cast reunited in Seaside Heights after an 11-month hiatus. That’s the longest production break ever between Shore seasons. After spending a few days in the Shore house, last night Snooki made good on her threats to leave and moved next door. MTV notes it’s not the first time a cast member has exited the house during production.
“It’s not a prison,” Linn says of the Shore house. “I know she’s concerned about the perception of her being a pregnant woman in a party house. I think that’s a common experience among a group of friends when somebody gets pregnant. This is an opportunity to see how she deals with it and how the rest of the house deals with it. The show has always been about following what’s really happening in their lives.”
Shore executive producer SallyAnn Salsano, who’s currently on location at Seaside, says the production always has a back-up location in case there’s a serious meltdown at the main Shore residence. But obviously the network and producers prefer to keep the cast under the same roof.
“The house is not the party,” Salsano says. “It’s a free-standing, innocent object. It’s whatever the people do inside that’s the atmosphere that’s created.”
Unlike recent years, only one season of Shore is scheduled for production this year and MTV has a lot riding on it. Even after last season’s ratings dip, the series remains a basic-cable phenomenon, averaging 7.6 million viewers. MTV hopes the extended hiatus will result in an exciting season compared to, for instance, season 5, which was shot back-to-back with Italy.
“The show has surprised us in the past and we’re super excited about this season,” Linn says. “I wouldn’t make any assumptions about what the season will do.”
The executive says the network has been fully supportive of all the changes in the lives of its Shore cast, even if it means less on-screen partying. “I don’t think anybody expected Snooki to be the one to blaze that trail, but she is, and it’s going to change the dynamic with everybody else,” Linn says. “She’s just as funny, if not funnier, than she’s ever been.”
There have admittedly been some adjustments to accommodate Snooki’s pregnancy, he says. “At one point they had talked about going skydiving, so she’s not going to be jumping out of a plane.”
As for The Situation, who reportedly went to rehab for a prescription drug problem and is now swearing off alcohol, Linn notes, “drinking was never a problem for him. He’s taking steps to be as healthy as possible and we support that.”
Salsano likewise promises the upcoming season will be just as entertaining as in the past, just “a different kind of entertaining.” So far on the set, there’s been plenty of joking around about Snooki’s pregnancy and Mike’s sobriety.
Says Salsano: “It’s like a high school sex-ed video gone insane.”
For more exclusive news about the sixth season of Jersey Shore, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly.