MTV is speaking out about its decision to conclude its top-rated series Jersey Shore. Below, the network’s executive vp of programming Chris Linn reveals why the reality phenomenon is coming to a close this year, teases final season storylines, reveals how much Snooki actually lived in the house and what’s next for the network.
EntertainmentWeekly: Why is MTV ending Shore?
Chris Linn: We’ve always said we’d do the show for as long as it made sense. We noticed what was going on in their lives, with Nicole (Snooki) having her baby, the relationships, etc. it felt like the right time to bring it to a close and end on a high note.
How much was the rising cost of the cast a factor?
Linn: It hasn’t been a significant consideration. The show still dominates, it’s the No. 1 show in our core demo, it’s still incredibly successful. It’s really about their lives evolving and changing in a way that moves them away from the original conceit of the show. As successful as the show is, we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re milking every ratings point out of a franchise until the end. Our audience demands reinvention and is always looking for what’s new. As tempting as it is to squeeze something to the end, we made what we think is the right, tough choice to end the show on top.
There’s been some conflicting reports about when the cast was told. When did they know for sure?
Linn: There’s been a sense for awhile this could be the last season. We didn’t really make a final decision until near the end of shooting. We just recently confirmed the information [to the cast].
How did the cast react?
Linn: It’s emotional. Mainly because this has been such an amazing ride for everyone involved. They were completely plucked out of anonymity and this has changed their lives in ways I don’t think any of us anticipated. It’s been a fast and exciting run, so I think there are a lot of emotions that come into play. I think it’s a bit bittersweet for all of us.
What can fans expect this season?
Linn: What I think is most exciting about this season are the changes that have happened. This is the longest the cast has been apart between seasons. There was time for new events to develop in their lives. Mike went into rehab and is coming back sober. Nicole is pregnant. Deena is in a different relationship. Sammi and Ronnie’s relationship has evolved. Their lives are at different stages and how they react and adapt to that is really fascinating.
How much did Snooki end up in the house?
Linn: It was really a matter of her wanting to be able to get proper rest at night and have a place she could go and relax. She moved into a place right next door, she spent the bulk of her time in the main Shore house. But the cast also came over to her place, so it gave us another place to go to. She’s very much present in this season. It’s not in her character to not be in the middle of everything.
Any big fights or hook-ups?
Linn: They never cease to surprise and impress us with their antics. The tension between Mike and Nicole definitely is a key storyline. My experience watching it, knowing it’s the last season, you see it through a different lens and it has a certain poignancy to it.
Any special content planned?
Linn: In addition to the main 13 episodes, we have a significant amount of after-show content. We’ll have eight after-shows to give more context. We have the special look-back special on the night of the VMAs (Sept. 6), it’s a ton of fun to look back at the biggest moments with all the cast interviews through the lens of “this is it.”
Can you say definitively that MTV will not reboot Jersey Shore next year with a new cast?
Linn: There are no plans for that at this time. We’ve always been clear that this cast is lightning in a bottle. I don’t think this is about format, for us it’s always been about this cast.
Obviously Snooki & JWOWW has been renewed for season two. Any decision on Pauly D project?
Linn: We haven’t had those conversations yet. We’ve been focused on Jersey Shore 6.
We talked before about the idea of a Snooki wedding special. Any update on that?
Linn: She’s been really focused on having a baby. We haven’t had any conversations about that. If and when she and Jionni are ready to tie the knot, my door is wide open and I’d love to talk to her about it.
So what’s next for MTV?
Linn: As you know, we’ve always taken a portfolio approach. We have numerous other franchises that continue to do well, from Teen Mom to The Challenge to Awkward, so we’re excited about the diversity of franchise. We have a number of new launches, like our new scripted series Underemployed on Oct. 16, we have the new reality series Catfish on Nov. 12, and a ton of new series in the pipeline. As fantastic as it’s been for Jersey Shore to burn as brightly as it has, it gives us the opportunity to put efforts behind our new series.