‘Jersey Shore’: What Stood Out To Producers Who Cast the MTV Series

The cast of Jersey Shore are reality TV icons today. But before they became celebrities, they were guidos and guidettes looking to have a good time at the beach. Find out why producer SallyAnn Salsano ultimately picked each roommate for Jersey Shore.

Sammi 'Sweetheart' Giancola, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Angelina Pivarnick, Pauly DelVecchio, Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi, Vinny Guadagnino, Jenni 'JWoww' Farley, and Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino
‘Jersey Shore’ Cast | TV/FilmMagic

‘Jersey Shore’ was originally going to be a competition show 

Before Jersey Shore became the worldwide phenomenon that it is, producers thought they were going to be working on a one-off competition series. 

The project, which was originally going to be on VH1, was “conceived as an all-male competition show,” according to Vulture. In the early days of casting, directors were on the lookout for male “gym rats and fist-pumpers.” 

Like The Challenge, the premise for Jersey Shore was going to include physical and mental challenges. In the end, one roommate was going to be crowned “America’s Biggest Guido.” 

Shelly Tatro, a VH1 executive, initially reached out to casting director Doron Ofir about the project. Later, Tatro introduced the idea to Salsano.

“[She] called me and was like, ‘S.A., you’re the biggest guido I know,” Salsano said. Eventually, Salsano and Ofir realized they didn’t have a show without females. There wasn’t enough drama. 

“I kept saying, ‘Look, the boys preen’ — you know, they’re peacocks — ‘but the girls fight,’” Ofir explained. When directors started adding women to the mix, the show slowly started to morph into less of a competition and more of a Real World concept.

The ‘Jersey Shore’ roommates were cast because they reminded producers of their youth 

Salsano was looking for the right group of people to fit her mold. Instead of putting “strangers in a house to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real,” Salsano was looking for guidos and guidettes that reminded her of her early 20s. She discussed casting the original Jersey Shore with Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi on her previous podcast, Naturally Nicole

“What stood out about all of us?” Polizzi asked, pointing out how there were so many people who wanted to be cast for Jersey Shore. “How’d you know who to pick?”

“It’s really interesting,” Salsano began, adding:

Pam [LaLima, another producer on the show] and I grew up going to the Jersey Shore. We were also, if you will, ‘guidos’ in our own right in our day — big hair and all.

But I think each one of you that were in the house — I think it was the first time that I casted a show based on the fact that you all reminded us of someone that we grew up with. Or when we had a shore house, someone that was in that shore house.

The ‘Jersey Shore’ roommates were cast because they fit certain stereotypes 

Salsano referenced several archetypes of the people she grew up with, including “the girl that’s going to hook up with everyone in the house,” “the girl that’s going to cause the drama,” and “the guy [she] always wanted to date, but would never talk to [her].”

Ironically, Salsano says Polizzi and Jenni “JWoww” Farley reminded her of her friendship with LaLima. 

“I was more you [Polizzi], Pam was more Jenni,” Salsano said. 

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“I would say we picked the people thinking we knew who you all were, but you all blew up in a way that we didn’t expect,” Salsano concluded.