“They’re stars,” he tells me this week during a casting call held at Harrah’s Atlantic City. “We’ve cast a lot of reality shows, and we’ve had a lot of standout characters, but Mike and Snooki were impressive from the go. They’re huge. They’re big people. They fill a room. They have presence. They’re pretty impressive. Together, I think it was magic on the show.”
In addition to Snooki and The Situation, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, Ronnie Magro, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, Angelina Pivarnick, Pauly Del Vecchio and Vinny Guadagnino hold a special place in his heart.
“Every now and then, we get a thank-you card from someone whose life we changed. It’s weird. Once we put people out there into the world, we kind of look at it like ‘OK, those are our children running around and either making us proud’ or whatever else they’re doing.”
The TV veteran, who has also been behind A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila, Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, Nashville Star, My Antonio and Millionaire Matchmaker, is scouring the Jersey Shore and Las Vegas looking for new additions to the biggest reality show in MTV history.
It’s not easy, he admits.
“We’ve seen a lot of imitators. A lot of people saying ‘they’re The Solution to The Situation.’ We need to know who you are, and who you’re going to be. Hey, if somebody puts a good act past us, I’m not a mind-reader, but I’ve been doing this long enough to spot the frauds from the real deal.”
While he won’t reveal how many people they’re looking to cast, whether certain cast members are leaving the Shore, or standouts from the auditions, he opens up about what it takes to land a coveted spot on the reality juggernaut.
“We’re looking for confidence, personality, but the most important thing is just be memorable because for this show alone, we’ve done over 500 interviews, and if I don’t remember you after you leave the room, you probably didn’t do that well. Things that we’ve never heard before, personality, confidence, the unapologetic quality of knowing who you are and just owning it. If you know exactly who you are, and you’re not afraid to be that and live your life out loud in front of the world, then we want to meet you.”
He continues, “It comes down to the strength of the personality, and really, by the end of this process, we’ll have so many to look at to choose from. After that, it’s putting together a jigsaw puzzle. How is this personality going to mesh with that? How is this person going to get along with this person? That’s the exciting part – that’s the fun. You have one chance to get the cast right.”