When Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino generated the most excitement during the CMT Awards Wednesday in Nashville, country's biggest stars took note.
Although some expressed discontent that they were being overshadowed by out-of-place reality stars during their own event, others, like celebrity chef Paula Deen, rolled with the punches. But don’t get Snooki and The Situation started on the haters. After all, they're celebrities now.
Indeed, mouths dropped at the sight of the 63-year-old celebrity chef caressing The Situation’s abs during the country version of the MTV Video Music Awards. Naturally, when the Food Network star dropped by the press room, I had to ask: what did they feel like?
“I was blown away by The Situation’s abs,” she tells me. “I have not seen abs like that, I don’t think, my whole life. I don’t remember the boys having those when I was in high school. He was amazing. titters It was like a hole this big with things on it. I actually had the opportunity to kiss it this afternoon. He was safe, though.”
Did she have difficulty understanding their Jersey dialect?
“I asked them to repeat things a couple times because they have a very thick accent,” she says in her equally thick – if not thicker – Southern twang. “I tried to talk like them, like ‘Joisey.’” cackles
Although many country artists paled in comparison to the Jersey Shore sensations, Snooki made no apologies for their presence.
“We’re strong people, we have strong personalities,” she says. “If I see something negative, I take that as a positive because if I don’t have people talking negative about me, then I’m doing something wrong, so no matter what – good publicity, bad publicity, I’ll take it all. Keep talking.”
She adds, “Call me orange, call me burnt toast, oompa loompa, keep doing your thing.”
Describing herself as “a closet country fan,” Snooki points out that she’s thrilled to there.
“I love Tim McGraw,” she tells me. “I met him in the elevator, and he was amazing. I think he’s really, really hot, too.”
But even she makes a goof when asked about Lady Antebellum, who have professed their love for Jersey Shore.
“I actually interviewed them on the red carpet,” she says. “One of the girls had a pouf, the other one had a blowout. They’re really nice people.”
Whoops! Lady Antebellum consists of female lead singer Hillary Scott, and two guys – Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood.
But these fish-out-of-water mean well.
“I’m definitely a big fan of their song 'I Need You Now,' ” The Situation says.
Snooki says, “That song makes me cry.”
Although The Situation was pleased to meet Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood during the CMT Awards, he hopes to add Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg to his rolodex of celebrity friends that already includes Leonardo DiCaprio and The Rock.
“I’m definitely a big fan of him and the trail of his career, and where he came from,” he tells me, adding “I was about to say Marky-Mark, but he’d be pissed if I said that.”
Given her passion for big hair, does Snooki look up to country divas like Dolly Parton?
“I don’t look up to anybody,” she says. “This is my style. I’m original.”
Ha! On the blue carpet, she asked me to feel her hair to prove it’s a Bumpit-free zone.
Still, with all their hilarity, not all country stars were feeling the fascination with the Jersey Shore.
Backstage, Trace Adkins took Blake Shelton aside to tell him Snooki is on the monster reality hit.
“I’m glad he said that because I’m a country singer, and I get excited and freak out when I see country artists who are my heroes,” Blake says. “I’ll be standing there in the hallway waiting for one of my heroes like John Anderson to walk by. It’s a good thing to have Miranda Lambert sitting next to me because she can say ‘that is Snooki.’ There’s some of them, I still don’t even know who in the hell they are, but they’ve got really cool hair and I’m sure they’re very talented at whatever they do.”
But on the blue carpet, Chuck Wicks says the highlight of his whole evening will be meeting Snooki.
“I’ve never met somebody like that before in my life,” Julianne Hough’s ex tells me. “I’ve seen a lot of her on TV lately. I’ve never watched the Jersey Shore, but it should be interesting to watch her. I think she’s got her cards on her sleeve, so I think I’ve already got her pegged out. I want to see her in action.”
Season two of Jersey Shore premieres July 29 on MTV.