October 31, 2011 07:45 AM by Candace Young
The creative force behind the wildly popular MTV reality series, Jersey Shore, is ready to bring the next big thing to the network’s reality lineup. In SallyAnn Salsano’s latest reality series, Friendzone, long-standing friendships are tested when one person tries to take the relationship from best friends to romance. Keep reading as SallyAnn dishes all the details as to why she loves Friendzone, and tells us what lesson can be learned from the success of Jersey Shore…
RTVM: The MTV Friendzone trailer left me feeling that this new reality series will be a definite winner. Would you give us a general outline of the show to start?
SallyAnn: This is one of the shows that I think does just as much for girls as it does for guys. Everyone can relate to it. It’s like you’re friends with that person, and the next thing you know one of you has fallen for the other, and you don’t know if you should say something or not. You’re afraid that if you tell the other person you have a crush on them, or you’re into them, either the best possible thing is going to happen, and they say they’re into you too, or it screws everything up forever. I think a lot of people stay in limbo land and are afraid to get the answer, but you’re better off knowing one way or the other. If you’re both into each other, great, and if you’re not – why waste another year of your life?
RTVM: How did you come up with the idea of doing Friendzone?
SallyAnn: Here’s the thing; I’d be lying if I said I haven’t lived in the Friendzone myself. I’m a 37 year-old girl, and as recently as last year, I was in the Friendzone. I think it happens at all ages, where you’re like, “This is weird,” and it comes out of nowhere and you don’t know how to handle it. It was literally as I was sitting in the Friendzone myself that I came up with it. The good thing about this show is that while you’re watching it you’re on pins and needles. It’s not like a fake reality dating show with pretty lighting, limousines, rose petals, and twinkle lights. This is what real-life dating is; this is how real people date in the real world.
RTVM: I feel like you can’t lose with this show. Either you’ll have a great, ‘feel good’ outcome, or it will be like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
SallyAnn: [laughs] Either you feel really good, or really bad. There’s no in between.
RTVM: When watching the highlights, I kept thinking, “Awkward!”
SallyAnn: Totally! Oh God, that’s one of the things in the show – you’ll actually see there’s a couple of kids that go, “Awkward!” It’s actually really funny you said that, because that’s our big joke in the office. But I’ve got to tell you; for the most part it worked out completely 50/50. Every time we would be there and be thinking, “He’s totally into her; he likes her,” we were wrong. [laughs] So, you just don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
RTVM: So how will a typical episode go? Will it feature one couple, or several couples?
SallyAnn: Each episode will feature two different couples. Some will go really well, and some will not go well, but here’s the part about the show that I really like – we do this set-up where we’re following them around just as they are as friends, so you can see for a couple of days how they interact with each other. Then you can see what the person who has the crush is seeing, and sometimes it’s like, “Dude, are you blind? He’s so not into you,” and then other times it’s like, “Oh my God, he totally likes her.” That’s in the set-up part of it. Then the friend basically helps them get ready for a blind date. When they get there, and get ready for the date, they realize that there is no blind date – the date’s really just for them. They have the choice to either go on the date with their friend, or not. In some cases, people go on the date and it’s happily ever after. In other cases, they go on the date, and after one date say, “No thanks, this is not for me – we need to go back in the Friendzone.” At the end of each little story, we go back weeks later and see how it turned out.
RTVM: What do you tell them about why they’re on camera to begin with?
SallyAnn: The person who has the crush, who wants to get out of the Friendzone, knows why they’re on the show. Their best friend thinks they are trying to set them up on a blind date – that they have a blind date and their friend is trying to help them get ready for it. So, they help them get ready for this blind date, and are giving them all the advice, and then when they get to the date they tell them, “You’re the person I want to go on the blind date with.”
RTVM: Wow, so it’s a real shocker – you must get some really great genuine reactions.
SallyAnn: I love it.
RTVM: You’re also the creator of Jersey Shore – we saw a little bit of ‘Friendzone’ action going on this season in Italy with Deena and Pauly D…
SallyAnn: A never-ending saga…
RTVM: What’s ahead for the Jersey Shore crew? We know they’ve taped another season in Seaside Heights.
SallyAnn: Yes, that premieres in the winter.
RTVM: What’s up for them after that?
SallyAnn: That’s still to be determined. If it was up to all of us, I think we’d go party again.
RTVM: Did you ever think, when you created Jersey Shore, that it would blow up and become as big as it has?
SallyAnn: No, but thank God. The big lesson, I think, is that to be a star in reality TV, you just need to own who you are, and I think that’s why the Jersey Shore kids are so popular – because they just went into it, and not one of them pretended for a second or apologized for what they did. They just owned it, and I think that’s what being a stand-up person, and being in your twenties, is all about.
RTVM: Do you think they’re all still basically the same people they were at the beginning?
SallyAnn: They’ve gotten older, and they’ve gotten richer, but other than that they’re still the same kids they were when I first met them.
Friendzone debuts on MTV on Tuesday November 1 at 7:00 PM EST.
Photos courtesy of MTV