August 04, 2011 10:11am PT by Jethro Nededog
'Jersey Shore' EP SallyAnn Salsano: How the Cast Changed in Italy and Deena Left No Stone Unturned
After a marathon of more than 100 days of shooting, Jersey Shore creator SallyAnn Salsano just wrapped Season 5 of the hit MTV show back in Seaside Heights, N.J. But tonight, as Season 4 premieres, fans will finally see the beginning of that race in Florence, Italy. And Salsano believes it was worth the grueling schedule she and her team endured to bring it to the fans.
“I was saying in the control room,” Salsano tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I laughed harder during the Italy season. I cried more during the Italy season and I saw more drama unfold than I've ever seen unfold in any one season.”
THR spoke to the Jersey Shore Boss about what we can expect on Season 4 and the headlines already being generated from Season 5.
THR: How did the idea of transplanting the cast to Italy come about?
Salsano: You know, it's funny we had always like kind of joked about it and talked about it, well we should all go on a trip. We should all go to Italy. And like, Season 1 with the cast, we're like if this show's successful, we're all going to go to Italy together on a trip. So it was kind of like almost unbelievable in total coming of age greatness when we were able to do it as the show and do it for the show. It was kind of like one of those moments where it came full circle. Like the cast and myself were laughing, like ‘Can you believe this? We all sat here saying wouldn't it be great if we did it and now we're going as a show.’We pitched it to the network and they loved it and they came back and said ‘hey, let's go to Italy’ and we were all like, ‘Game on.’ But it was hard. You know, it's hard to do.
THR: When we last spoke to you, you were in the trenches of production. Looking back now, how did it work out for you?
Salsano: I think it was awesome. I really think it was one of our most exciting seasons. And I'm using the reference of like when you're a kid away from home, probably further away from home than they had ever been for that long of a time, that being said, it wasn't like when they're at the Shore in Miami when you can go outside and talk to anybody. They couldn't communicate with anyone else. It was harder to at least. So they had to rely on each other more and I think like in any relationship, the more time you spend with someone the more you love them and the more they get under your skin. So, I think the highs and lows are so much greater but also I think they're connections are so much tighter.
THR: What was your personal high and low from Season 4?
Salsano: My high was when I got there and I realized that all the negative stuff in the press was kind of false and the country was welcoming us with open arms. That was definitely my personal high.
THR: You didn't know what to expect with what you were reading?
Salsano: Yeah, because every time I went to Italy and I met with everyone they were so lovely and were like ‘yes, yes, yes.’ And then I'd read all the press and all the reporters were calling me going ‘what are you going to do?’ And I was like, ‘I don't know, am I going crazy, I'm so worried, everyone is telling me it's going to be fine.’ So I think for me the personal high was realizing how great everyone was going to be with us.Personal low, I don't know. I think I blocked it out.
THR: What do you think viewers are going to enjoy the most about the Italy season?
Salsano: I think the interaction amongst the cast. I think there's so much interaction amongst the cast and I also think its fun to watch them explore Italy. I think it was such a great experience and Florence was so wonderful to us and so welcoming and I think the kids, just the kids' wide-eyed view of seeing that I think is really refreshing and funny.
THR: Did being in a different country change the cast in any way?
Salsano: Yeah, I saw them do things where they would in the past given up or just gone somewhere else. They had to work through it. And I always say it is like going away to college. Like for a lot of these kids they lived at home and studied at home and did stuff like that. So for a lot of these kids this was one of the first times that they are really out there and didn't have a crutch and they found stuff out and they explored and really worked stuff out on their own.
THR: This crew is very close to their family and parents. How did they handle being so far away from them?
SallyAnn Salsano: It's definitely part of the storyline. It's for sure wasn't easy. Like the one thing about these kids and this is what I love about them most, they really are just loveable characters that come from really great homes and know who they are and where they come from. So that's one of the things that I love about them and why I think America loves them. So it was interesting and it was hard for them to be able to be away from home. Especially like Deena, Deena didn't even do the Miami season. So this was the first time she was truly ever away from home in her life.
THR: From the previews, Deena Cortese really sort of breaks out in Italy.
Salsano: Oh, she is a walking holiday. She's a blast in a glass. She's everything. I would say that first experience that we all had away from home, this was certainly Deena's and she didn't leave any stone unturned. She took Italy by storm, singlehanded.
THR: Recently, we’ve seen a lot of headlines about Vinny Guadagnino walking out and then Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. Is the cast showing the signs of exhaustion after shooting for more than 100 days straight?
Salsano: No. I think when you watch the show… I can only say that I'm so grateful for all the press but it's always fun for me to watch what's going on in the press and knowing what's really happening in the house. So for me, no, I don't think it has anything to do with that. I think what happened with Vinny and with what people are speculating with Mike would’ve happened whether or not there were five weeks in between seasons or not.
THR:What was the reasoning behind shooting the seasons back-to-back? Did MTV influence that decision? Was it a matter of striking while the iron is hot?
Salsano: No. Not at all, it was a creative decision. Well I think it was really fun to go to Italy and see the kids get acclimated to a different culture. And that being said it was equally as fun to see them come home and get back into their American life. Like it was so fun to watch them go home and see the things that they wanted to do first. What they wanted to eat first all that kind of stuff and it was really great.
Jersey Shore Season 4 premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on MTV.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro