Jersey Shore may have ended nearly six years ago, but we’ve still got our hair poofed and we’re ready to fist pump with the best of them with Jersey Shore: Family Vacation. The show was full of so many good catchphrases, iconic moments, and slightly questionable ways of referring to women. But basically, anything that Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi or Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio said was pure gold. The cast of Jersey Shore often got heat for all of their drunken antics, like the time Snooki was arrested, but boy did it make for some quality TV! While we got to see a lot going down behind the scenes, there are quite a few things producers orchestrated on the show that they didn’t want us to know. But we did some digging to find out these filming secrets from the Jersey Shore’s first go on MTV.
16. The cast only got one private phone call a week
During the 30 to 50 days it took to film a season, the cast only got one call a week that they were allowed to make without the camera there. All of their other calls had to be filmed. On top of that, they were not allowed to have cell phones, mostly because it would be a pretty boring show just watching Snooks and Jenni “JWoww” Farley scrolling on their phones! Speaking of the duck phone, which fit so perfectly in the J-Shore house, it was actually a thrift store find!
15. The cast was never allowed to leave the house without a camera crew
If they weren’t allowed to have many private phone calls, they obviously didn’t get much time alone elsewhere. They had to give producers at least an hour’s notice if they planned to leave the house. So, they weren’t allowed to have any spur-of-the-moment trips out around town. Every trip to the gym, to do laundry, or to the tanning salon that Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Pauly D, and Vinny Gaudagnino went on had to be filmed for the show. The producers of Jersey Shore clearly new how important GTL was.
14. They had no contact with the outside world
Snooki once claimed that the President could have died and they wouldn’t know it if they were filming. While we think producers would have probably let the cast of Jersey Shore watch the news if Barack Obama had died (they gave the 2001 Real World cast access to a TV when 9/11 happened), it makes sense that having much news about the outside world could affect the house in a way that might be confusing for TV viewers. Not only was the cast cut off from the outside world, they were also even cut off from each other. They weren’t allowed to communicate off camera (yes, really), and the producers banned them from writing notes to each other. Obviously, the note Snooki and Jenni “JWoww” Farley left for Sam in season two was an exception since the cams documented it all.
13. They weren’t allowed to watch TV, listen to music, or go on the internet
Snooki once called the Jersey Shore house a prison. She was extreme enough to tell Rolling Stone, “There’s no normalcy. It’s just like prison, with cameras.” She said that being cut off from the outside world and not being allowed to take part in many activities would drive them crazy. Clearly these drawbacks were worth it because they’re all coming back for another two seasons. (Everyone except Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, that is.) The cast wasn’t allowed to watch TV or listen to music in an effort by producers to make them interact with each other more. Clearly it worked – because the JS cast had some of the wildest fights in reality TV history. Being filmed 24/7 for nearly two months straight basically made them all go a little crazy at times.
12. The only thing they basically were allowed to do for fun was drink
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Jersey Shore, it seemed like the only thing you can do when visiting the shore is get absolutely sloshed. Both Snooki and JWoww have spoken out since they wrapped the first run of Jersey Shore about how the show portrayed their drinking. According to them, watching the series made it seem like they had a drinking problem, when the reality was that GTL and drinking was basically all they were allowed to do while filming the show.
11. The show’s executive producer lived in the apartment above them
Not only did executive producer SallyAnn Salsano live above then, she had 14 TV screens in her living room watching their every move. Okay, that’s not creepy?! She also had a camera feed in her bedroom so she could watch the cast at. all. times. SallyAnn has been an MTV veteran ever since she was almost in The Real World: Miami in 1996, and she thought up the Jersey Shore idea after recalling some of the more wild times she had down at the shore with friends during her twenties. SallyAnn was extremely close with the cast during their time on the show, and Snooki’s dad apparently used to call her all the time to check up on his daughter.
10. Seaside Heights is the only town in NJ that would let MTV film there
It was by no means a secret that former New Jersey governor Chris Christie hated the cast of Jersey Shore and everything the show stood food. If it were up to him, the show wouldn’t have been allowed to film in the state at all. But Seaside Heights was the only city the cast and crew could actually film in. During the spin-off series, Snooki & JWoww, they were given a hefty fine after filming in Pelican Island, as it violated the town’s ordinance. When Hurricane Sandy hit, the governor had some harsh words for the cast, but most of the cast donated money to help rebuild the shore.
9. The cast was selected just one day before filming began
Jersey Shore was originally pitched as a competition show. At the time, those types of series were what had the most success on MTV, with shows like Road Rules and The Challenge raking in huge viewerships. The concept was going to be about “who could live the most guido lifestyle.” Can you imagine? Something’s telling us it wouldn’t have been the hit it was. There were even going to be elimination rounds that related to fist-pumping. Nope. When that got scrapped, the producers search the tri-state area (almost the entire cast is not from New Jersey) to narrow their cast down to 12 people. The final eight were picked just the day before filming began!
8. Snooki lost her international license while filming in Italy
Remember that episode where Snooki got into a car accident during filming in Italy? In the episode, it looked like she hit an Italian police car. What the show didn’t reveal was that that car was actually for their private security! The officers had to be taken to the hospital after the accident but had no lasting injuries. Understandably so, Snooki had her international driver’s license revoked afterward. There was no alcohol involved in the accident, despite what people might have suggested about Snooki at the time.
7. The Italy house was a former bank
Did you ever think that the Italy house looked really, really big? That is because it was huge! Jersey Shore producers converted an old bank into a house for the cast to live in. When a journalist for the Hollywood Reporter visited the house, they were startled by the size of the place. He said, “The place is lit like a soundstage, with fake windows, 28 fixed cameras in the corners of each room.” Even though the place was huge, the cast members still shared rooms like they had when they were in New Jersey. Slumber parties are just more fun!
6. MTV planned a fifth season behind the cast’s backs
While the cast was still filming in Italy, MTV greenlit another season of Jersey Shore and SallyAnn Salsano said, at the time, that the cast was going to hate her for it. MTV worked with the cast member’s agents and lawyers to draw up contracts for the new season. Since the cast was cut off from the outside world during filming, it was very easy to go behind their backs to make it happen without any objections from The Situation, Snooki, JWOWW, Sammi, Pauly D, Vinny, Deena Cortese or Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. Producers feared that if they told the cast during filming about a new season, they’d all freak out. They weren’t told about the new season until moments before the press release was sent out for it. Shady.
5. The rooftop deck wasn’t actually on top of the shore house
It seemed like the cast always hung out on that awesome rooftop deck, but it wasn’t even at their shore house! The jacuzzi and hang out area was on top of the building next door. It was a convenient location for the cast though, as it sat right above the t-shirt shop where they had to work while on the show. It was never shown on TV, but once the show became a huge hit, fans would line up for hours outside of the t-shirt shop to catch a glimpse of the cast and get some merch. In order to get inside, they had to sign release forms so MTV could use their image on the show if the network decided to.
4. Producers had a different cast picked out for season two
Jersey Shore producers weren’t sure if they wanted to keep the original crew for the show’s second season or switch ’em out Real World-style. They began assembling a second cast just in case they decided to nix the first group. Luckily, they stuck with the Jersey Shore cast we all know and love, but shook things up with Angelina Picarnick‘s return although she’d been kicked off the show in the third episode of season one. The rest of the cast was shook when Angelina showed up in Miami for season two. She left the show early again after drama with Snooki, Sammi, and JWoww erupted. Rumor has it she’ll be back for Family Vacation.
3. Deena was considered when casting season one
We could have had our favorite meatball so much sooner! Deena was one of the 12 candidates casting agents had narrowed down for season one. She had to back out before they officially picked the eight cast members when she found out her grandmother was sick. Deena and Snooki were close IRL though and spent two summers together down the shore way before the TV show was even picked up by MTV. So after Angelina left the show in season two, producers offered Deena a spot in season three and the rest is history!
2. Snooki is the reason the show had women on it
When Jersey Shore was originally going to be a competition show, MTV only planned to have men compete. Yes, really. Even after they decided to switch it to a lifestyle show, there weren’t any plans to include women. Let’s face it, though, the girls were the BEST part of Jersey Shore. That all changed when MTV met Snooks. She showed up for her audition with so much bronzer on that she left orange streaks on the sign-in papers. Snooki explaining how she would get drunk and have her friends take care of her helped the producers realize instantly that they had to have her on the show. After that, they decided to have four guys and four girls on Jersey Shore. The rest is herstory!
1. MTV put an STD clause in the cast member’s contracts
It seems that MTV knew they had to protect themselves when it came to the Smush Room. In every episode of Jersey Shore, the housemates would get drunk, and a majority of them would bring someone home with them from KARMA or whatever bar/club they hit up for the night. But seeing as they were often drunk and hooking up with strangers, there was a risk for sexually-transmitted infections and diseases. MTV planned ahead for that and made sure to include in the contract that the network was not responsible if someone contracted an STD while filming. We don’t know that anything like that ever actually happened on the show, but if it had – they were covered!