SallyAnn Salsano is best known for producing MTV’s massive reality hit Jersey Shore. In 2016, she and her company 495 Productions have another busy year ahead, including the launch of dating series Ex Isle on WeTV. LA Fan Cultures Examiner spoke to SallyAnn recently to discuss the new slate of projects and discuss how she feels about the lasting impact of Jersey Shore.
“In 2016, we’re doing True Life for MTV,” she told us. “We’re super excited to be a part of that franchise. Our first one aired and did really well and we’re really excited about it. We’re doing this new show for WeTV called Ex Isle…We’re teaming up on the CNBC show Blue Collar Millionaires that we’re casting for season two right now, and then we have a bunch of other stuff in the works that’s not announced yet.”
Ex Isle differs from many dating projects in that it’s not about holding a relationship together. “You take shows like Marriage Boot Camp, which is also on WeTV, and a lot of the other shows we’ve done in the past and it’s about making people see eye to eye and work things out,” SallyAnn said. “I would say this is the first show that’s like you know what? You’re done. And it’s trying to let people see what we see, which is that these people are not actually right for each other.”
What is it about dating and relationship shows that make them one of the primary genres of reality TV? “I think it actually affects the most people,” she told us. “Every single one of us have been in a relationship – a good one, a bad one, have family members that have been, friends that have been and at the end of the day I feel like it’s the type of thing that is so relatable and you can’t lie about.”
Ten years since the company was founded 495 Productions is still going strong and it’s also having a chance to see the extended results of its success. Former Jersey Shore stars Jenni “JWoww” Farley and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi have just launched their own web series about raising their families; having met them well before all that, how is it for SallyAnn to see their success?
“I love that,” she enthused. “Anybody who’s brave enough and has worked on a TV show and puts their life out there, if they enjoy that process that much and want to keep it going? I think they should and I think it’s a testament that people continue wanting to see it. I think it’s the best thing possible.”
Asked if she’s able to keep up with the stories of all the people she’s worked with, she told us “We kind of stay in touch. I don’t say we wake up every day and we talk but definitely we’re all texting each other, we’re sending each other pictures. JWoww just got married; we were all at the wedding. There were no cameras there; it wasn’t a show. If someone like JWoww invites you to their wedding because they consider you to be that big a part of their life, you get that wedding invitation and it brings tears to your eyes.
“We did a group call with the [Ex Isle] cast,” she recalled, “it was like all ten of those people have not been on one call with us since we left the island and everyone’s making fun of each other. In reality, we spent 21 days together, 24/7. We all exposed to each other our deepest secrets, and as those guys are going through things, you’re not judging them as a reality producer. You’re sitting there shooting and interviewing them as someone who’s probably going through the same thing or as their friend.”
After all the reality shows she’s been a part of, is there any one that SallyAnn would like to go back and revisit?
“I don’t think so,” she reflected, “but I think every single show to be completely honest has a life of their own. Just like Jersey Shore. People are always like Jersey Shore is over; in my mind that show is taking a nap because every single day a new Guido is born and every summer people are still going to the Shore to party.
“Sometimes it’s smart to pause a show or give it a break, but I think just because something’s done once doesn’t mean it can’t be done again,” she continued. “The difference between reality and scripted is we don’t plan it. No two people are alike. So if you take a show like Survivor or you take a show like American Idol, every year there’s new people with new stories, a new source of talent and a new way to play and win a game. Every show becomes fresh every season, because your cast and your characters are completely different.”
If she were to step out in front of the camera and have her own reality show, what would it be about?
“Sleep deprivation,” she laughed, “and how much pizza can a person eat. Those are the two things that would be highlighted.”
Ex Isle airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on WeTV.