It shouldn’t be a surprise that the producer behind VH1’s strange new hit show, “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” is the same person behind another similar breakout hit for sister network MTV.
SallyAnn Salsano of 495 Productions was the mastermind behind “Jersey Shore,” the show that broke an MTV ratings record when it was viewed by nearly 9 million viewers in 2011.
It’s a different time for TV, but “Martha & Snoop” is doing well for VH1. It debuted to 3 million total viewers, according to Nielsen’s live-plus-three-day measurements, in addition to generating a whole lot of conversation for the channel.
“It’s kind of what you live for. To be honest, it is, and you’re just grateful for the opportunities,” Salsano recently told Business Insider of being behind another hit for Viacom, which owns both MTV and VH1.
“I feel like a lot of times it’s about taking a risk,” she continued. “We don’t know what the next hit is. None of us do. But I just feel like we need to try. And I always say you need a swing to get ahead, and I am so grateful for every single swing that I get. And I always say, it may not work, but I’m going to die trying. And that’s kind of my thing.”
“Martha & Snoop” was born in the first meeting between Salsano and Chris McCarthy. McCarthy has been a rising star in the Viacom family starting with ratings successes at LGBT channel Logo and then moving to VH1. In November, McCarthy added oversight of MTV to his plate.
McCarthy asked Salsano for “something crazy, something outlandish, something that you want to do but you think may not be for VH1.”
Salsano responded, “I’m dying to do a celebrity cooking show.”
To Salsano’s surprise, McCarthy was game. The next step was to figure out the show’s format and, more importantly, who would host it. After tossing ideas around, Stewart and Snoop Dogg came up. It may seem like an odd coupling, but Salsano insists that it makes total sense.
“It’s not random,” she told us. “They actually have a history and they’re friends.”
Apparently, the duo have known each other for at least eight or nine years. In 2008, Snoop was a guest on Stewart’s syndicated talk show, “Martha,” and they cooked mashed potatoes together. From there, the rapper made more appearances on her show.
Salsano had seen Snoop’s appearances and thought their shared love of cooking, entertainment, and humour was obvious.
“It just made sense,” the producer said. “It’s like they are a unit. They exist. It’s not fake. It’s not put on. It’s just what it is. That’s why I think it feels so good because you have two people that genuinely love each other and respect each other, for real.”
Getting them to do the show together was one thing, but finding time to tape it when they were both available was another. In the end, they shot 10 episodes in 5 days. There was no pilot shot, nor were there any rehearsals.
“You do what works for them,” Salsano said. “They just block out a time together. I mean, they worked it out amongst themselves. Snoop was on tour, he’s still on tour, and he had a break in his tour and basically we shot it during his break. I mean, they both have so much going on that it’s nice that they worked together to get it done.”
The half-hour cooking show typically has the hosts preparing their own dishes that converge on a theme. They’re also joined by celebrity guests, including Seth Rogen,
Ice Cube, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Naya Rivera, Jason Derulo, 50 Cent, Fat Joe, Mike Epps, Kathy Griffin, Robin Thicke, and Bella Thorne.
It began airing in early November. After just two episodes, it was renewed for a second season. The announcement was a clear show of confidence by the network.
“Martha and Snoop are the modern-day ‘Odd Couple’ and the reigning King and Queen of pop culture,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Wait until you see what happens in season two.”
Salsano believes the timing of the announcement was justified.
“It’s early, but I think Martha and Snoop deserve it,” she said. “I feel like it’s the right thing to do. The show’s working. Why not get rocking?”
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