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Mike Sorrentino should change his name to “The Corporation.”
As the sophomore season of MTV’s pop-culture phenomenon “Jersey Shore” continues to gobble up the biggest ratings the network has seen in seven years — answering the prayers of the many of its executives who spoke of a gloomy prognosis before the “Shore” — breakout star Sorrentino (aka the Situation) has jumped at the opportunity to capitalize on his fame. By year’s end, the 29-year-old stands to earn more than $5 million, a source familiar with his finances told THR.
“We are really excited about all the opportunities coming Mike’s way,” said Sorrentino’s manager, Mike Petolino of Gotham Entertainment. “He has been able to secure many endorsement deals, business opportunities and additional television offers based on the success of the show. Our goal has always been to try to build a brand if the situation presented itself.”
Indeed, the Situation presented itself.
The reality star, who has 175,000 Twitter followers and has spawned an endless barrage of “Situation”-related puns, never has been afraid of exposure, especially on a series in which viewers would be hard-pressed to find an episode where Sorrentino doesn’t take off his shirt. No word on whether all the extra activity will conflict with his “GTL” (Sorrentino has become synonymous with the “Shore’s” catchphrase, which stands for gym, tanning and laundry).
Amid hefty and much-publicized salary negotiations for Season 3, the source confirmed that Sorrentino is earning close to $60,000 an episode after bonus incentives, based on ratings, and event-appearance fees from $15,000-$50,000 (which will bring him $1 million this year alone).
The New York native also has developed several products based on his much-touted six-pack: an abs-focused fitness video, “The Situation Workout,” and a chewable supplement line distributed in association with GNC.
Literary ambitions? Check. Sorrentino has partnered with Gotham Books to pen his autobiography, “Here’s the Situation,” which the source said earned him a six-figure advance. Top-shelf liquor connection? Check. He is signing to endorse a new vodka line that boasts another six-figure payday plus partial ownership. Of course he has a “GTL” app and a rap song on iTunes. It doesn’t stop: He has further endorsements with Vitamin Water and Reebok and a deal for a clothing line with Dilligaf.
Petolino also confirmed that Sorrentino might be appearing on the big screen; he has been in talks with production companies to appear in various feature projects.
“If you are a noncelebrity on a reality show, you are given an opportunity,” said entertainment attorney Steven Katleman of Greenberg Traurig. “It’s a platform. You have to use it intelligently.”
Sorrentino — with the help of his brother Marc, owner of the adult website Naughty Ltd. — has successfully trademarked “The Situation” among other phrases he has coined on the series. Meanwhile, the Manalapan High School graduate also receives a percentage of sales on all “Shore”-related projects.
“We have everything from T-shirts and buttons to Season 1 on DVD to an official ‘Jersey Shore’ quote book to Halloween costumes based on the Snooki poof and, of course, the Situation’s abs,” said Lisa Silfen, senior vp program enterprises at MTV.
Silfen added that MTV recently released a line of cast bobbleheads, designed a swimsuit collection slated for spring and developed a line of “comfy throws” for fans to store in their own shorehouses (think: a Snooki Snuggie), all contributing to Sorrentino’s growing fortune.
“The cast is being compensated for everything and anything in their likeness,” Silfen said.
The source said that Sorrentino’s percentage on MTV’s booming “Shore”-related profits is in the double-digits.
“The DVD of Season 1 is doing really nicely in a tough industry,” Silfen said. “We’re very pleased how everything has been performing.”
As it stands, Sorrentino is expected to earn upward of $5 million by 2011 and more than $10 million overall by this time next year.
Not bad for a guy who spent his pre-“Shore” days as an assistant manager of a Staten Island fitness center — a job estimated to bring in about $35,000 a year — and reportedly made a brief foray into the world of exotic dancing in 2004 with the New York-based “All American Male” revue.
So how will Sorrentino avoid becoming a reality-show casualty like castmate Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, who was arrested last month in Seaside Heights, N.J., for disorderly conduct?
Image consultant Michael Sands, who has worked with GNC, said Sorrentino most likely signed a “moral turpitude” clause in his endorsement contracts, and any run-ins with the law could jeopardize those; so far, he has stayed out of trouble.
Unlike his “Shore” castmates, Sorrentino — who has been hands-on in all of his dealings, according to Petolino — seems to be paying careful attention to his public image.
“He takes a business-minded approach to everything he does,” Petolino said.
“People told him to enjoy his 15 minutes of fame and that he wouldn’t last. I think we can agree he’s extended it to at least 17.”
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