There’s a strong possibility that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman is fistpumping right now.
That’s because MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” (with some help from the Paramount hit “Rango”) just led Viacom to net earnings of $376 million — a 47 per cent jump from same period last year.
Yeah, we know: you’re sick of hearing about the vodka-guzzling, limited-vocab stars of “Jersey Shore.” But it’s time you met the woman behind it: Sally Ann Salsano.
Salsano is the mastermind behind “Shore,” which — like it or not — makes her one of the most important reality innovators of all time.
How’d she come up with the idea? She’s an Italian-American from Long Island — so we feel safe assuming she’s had this one in her back pocket for a while.
Before she unveiled “Shore,” Salsano’s 495 Productions made several reality shows you’ve heard of — “HGTV Design Challenge,” “Tool Academy” and “A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila” — as well as several that you haven’t, like “Texas Quints.”
But success in the genre involves a lot of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks (sort of like a drunken dinner at the “Shore” house, right? We’ll be here all week!). And Salsano’s MTV hit has sharply refined her aesthetic.
Her in-production credits show that she knows what she’s good at: the buzziest thing on her dossier is “Repo Men,” a quiz-show/enforcement doc hybrid for Spike TV. Basically, a team of repo guys show up to cart off unsuspecting subjects’ cars — but, if said subjects can nail some trivia questions, they get to keep their wheels.
Twisted, right? Well, count on all of Salsano’s future projects having an outrageous edge.
“Shore” has clearly taught her that the quickest way to bring eyes to a series is to have a kernel of craziness at its core — as well as an element that hasn’t been done before.
Case in point: she uprooted the “Shore” stars from Seaside Heights, N.J. in season two and sent them to Miami. Plenty of people complained the setting took away from the cast’s organic appeal, but they sat through South Beach patiently — then tuned in hungrily when, in season three, Salsano returned her babies to their boardwalk nest.
She’s got them in Italy now, a stunt that has viewers on both sides of the Atlantic bracing themselves for what happens next. And every time Salsano takes them away from the shore, she buys them another season there.
Meanwhile, she’ll also produce the MTV spinoffs planned for cast members Pauly Delvecchio, Jenni “J. Woww” Farley, and Nicole “Snooki” Pollizzi.
So if you were hoping the “Shore” kids were on their way out, consider those hopes dashed. You can be sure that MTV is keeping them — and Salsano — on board for a long time.