By MARTIN DeANGELIS and BRIAN IANIERI Press of AC Staff Writers
The cast of the MTV reality show ‘Jersey Shore,’ which premiered last month, includes from left, back row: Angelina; Jenni ‘J-Wow’; Nicole ‘Snookie’ and Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino; front row: Vinnie, DJ Pauly D, Ronnie and Sammy ‘Sweetheart.’ Sorrentino and Pauly D’s apperance at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort’s Casbah Nightclub has been rescheduled from Saturday to Feb. 13.
Photo by: MTV photo by Scott Gries
Sea Isle City had a real situation on its hands Thursday. Or make that a fake situation.
Rumors were flying around town and around cyberspace that the bad boys and girls of MTV’s hit show “Jersey Shore” were set to take their act south from Seaside Heights after that night’s season finale and set up shop in Sea Isle next summer for another run of shows. The people of Sea Isle — year-round population 2,909 — weren’t happy with that idea, and they were letting their leaders know it.
With calls and e-mails flooding City Hall, the mayor of the Cape May County city had to take the rare step of issuing an official statement denying a rumor. Mayor Leonard Desiderio said nobody from the network or show had contacted anyone from the town, and he was relieved when an MTV representative joined in to help squelch the rumor.
“We have not confirmed a second season” will air, let alone where that season would be set, said a network spokeswoman who declined to give her name.
Desiderio was sure by midafternoon that his Sea Isle office had broken all one-day January records for phone calls — most of them asking about “Jersey Shore,” and most of them complaining about it. A secretary in his office, Patty Ponichtera, estimated a bit later that the mayor himself got somewhere between 50 and 100 e-mails, all of them opposed to “Jersey Shore” landing in their little corner of that shore.
But the city Clerk’s Office was also getting calls, and so was the public relations office, where spokeswoman Katie Dalrymple said she had first heard the rumor Wednesday night.
“My friend texted me that ‘Jersey Shore is coming. It’s on Facebook,’” she said. “Then I came in this morning and had about 10 e-mails and phone calls about it.”
And the complaints kept coming for the rest of the day.
“They were all saying that if it’s here, it’s going to pretty much ruin some of their vacations,” Dalrymple said.
So the town went on the offensive — against a show its people apparently find so offensive.
“This is my 18th year (as mayor), and I never had to put out a statement denying a rumor before,” Desiderio said. “This story has taken on a life of its own, and it really … grew and grew and grew.”
Desiderio said he had also never watched a “Jersey Shore” episode until Wednesday night, after he started getting a few calls asking whether Sea Isle would really host a second season of the infamous show. The source of the rumors, as far as he could figure, was an unattributed line repeated on several Internet blogs: “Filming will begin again this summer in the resort town of Sea Isle, N.J.”
His diagnosis — which he repeated at least a few dozen times Thursday, to residents, homeowners, renters, potential renters, bar-owners and media representatives , including radio talk-show hosts: “That’s got to be a misprint with Seaside Heights.”
Desiderio, who makes his living owning a bar, was with the people who don’t want “Jersey Shore” at his Jersey shore.
He gave that verdict after watching a rerun of an episode in which cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi — a 4-foot-9-inch, 21-year-old woman with a penchant for doing headstands in bars while wearing a short skirt, forcing MTV to blur out certain parts of her in several shows — wore basically a corset and lots of makeup to Seaside Heights bars.
It was also the episode in which another character got arrested for punching out a guy in a bar. In a particularly controversial earlier episode, cameras were rolling when Snooki got punched in a bar, by a male gym teacher.
Another “Jersey Shore” fan favorite is Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, who took his nickname from peoples’ reaction to his abs — or stomach — and who often refers to himself in the third person, as in, “Girls love The Situation,” or, “If you don’t love The Situation, I’m going to make you love The Situation.”
Whatever its charms, the show got to be popular enough that a Google search for the phrase “Snooki got punched” turns up more than 6 million hits. And Desiderio himself generally loves getting publicity for Sea Isle — but not all publicity is good publicity, he said, adding that “Jersey Shore” isn’t “something we would want to portray in our community and have the entire country viewing it.”
But he planned to watch the show for the second time Thursday, to catch that season finale.
Not because he’s such a big fan, Desiderio said, but “I just want to watch it to make sure at the end they don’t say, ‘Let’s go to Sea Isle!’