'Jersey Shore's' Vinny Guadagnino gets talk show, 'The Show With Vinny'
The premise has guests coming to the family home of the quiet guy from "Jersey Shore," where Guadagnino's mom, Paola Giaimo, cooks for everyone, and Guadagnino's sisters, Antonella and Mariann Guadagnino, interrupt as he tries to talk to guests, who will include Jenny McCarthy, RedFoo, Scott Disick, Kat Graham and A$AP Rocky.
The set, a well-worn couch and chair, is in what was intended to be a dining room but until the show had been Giaimo's bedroom. Crucifixes, Communion photos and maps of Sicily decorate the walls.
Each sister's bedroom is taken over by the show, one as a control room and one as a green room. Guadagnino's room has seven shelves of sneakers, the New York skyline on a mirrored background and video games.
Giaimo had ironed her son's T-shirt and helped him into it. She turns her attention to cooking in the cramped kitchen.
"This is crazy," Guadagnino says, settling on a couch in his room, "every day with a celebrity, just catching that interaction with my mom. She's hilarious.
"I never had a friend sleep over this house," Guadagnino says. "It was embarrassing. It was small, beat up. Flash forward 25 years, and now I have millions of people and the biggest celebrities in the world."
Show screeners were not available at this writing, but it's clearly the antithesis of a slick talk show. "It's like if 'Wayne's World' was shot in Staten Island," says SallyAnn Salsano, executive producer and the force behind "Jersey Shore." "Vinny is famous for two things -- pinkeye and people fall in love with Vinny.
"You would think these kids are from central casting," Salsano says. "Wait till you see them. Mom cuts his food. This is not a put-on. You feel like you are at someone's house for dinner. We barely get the 'What are you here to pitch?' "
Reflecting on how she selected the cast of "Jersey Shore," Salsano says, "If you would have told me, 'You are going to take these eight kids you found in a nightclub and change TV,' I would have said, 'You are smoking something.' "
The day "Jersey Shore" premiered, Guadagnino was supposed to take the LSATs. He says he still thinks about law school, but "I like this more."
The aroma of garlic fills the house. His mom has some leftover basil, so she whips up a batch of pesto. Everyone waits for Victoria Justice on a frigid day in this lingering winter.
The crew crams into a bedroom, and producers feed lines into Guadagnino's earpiece as he tries to do his introduction.
"Did you leave something out?" Giaimo asks. "I just want to be sure you don't leave anyone out. Remember, if I didn't give birth to you, you wouldn't be here right now."
She reminds him to mention his sisters. Guadagnino sighs, and says, "Welcome to 'The Show With Vinny, My Mom, My Sisters, the Dogs and Cats, and the Rest of Staten Island.' "
Naturally, his mom slaps him for the sarcasm. Guadagnino tries explaining who Justice is to his mom. "She's like a god to little kids." Before she can correct him for being flippant about God, his sisters criticize his outfit, and Mom's on them.
"I am movie-star famous now," Giaimo says. "I am getting recognized in Kohl's. I can't go anywhere."
Guadagnino knows where this is heading, so he warns his mom not bring this up with Nickelodeon star Justice. "Whenever I go out, I have to put on my lipstick," Giaimo says. When the camera is running, Giaimo mentions the brand and the shade, hoping for freebies.
When Justice arrives, she is a good sport, eating and trying an improv skit with Guadagnino. In it, he gives birth, and she's his coach. One could say you had to be there, but it is probably best to not have been.
Crew and family squeeze around one another, waiting turns for the one bathroom. The family dynamic is real, and as Guadagnino slips into his room, seeking a few minutes of quiet, he says, "To them I am just little Vinny. Maybe on the set, I'll start to get some respect."
Other TV shows set on Staten Island
BY ANDY EDELSTEIN, email@example.com
Staten Island has been the setting for several other series, both scripted and nonscripted:
WORKING GIRL (1990) -- Based on the movie, this sitcom starred a newcomer named Sandra Bullock as a blue-collar Staten Island woman who's a secretary in Manhattan. Her spunk impresses the boss, so she's promoted. Hilarity ensues.
GROUNDED FOR LIFE (Fox, WB, 2001-05) -- Family sitcom about an Irish-Italian couple (Donal Logue, Megyn Price) and their three children.
MOB WIVES (VH1, 2011-) -- Reality show follows seven Staten Island women after their husbands or fathers were arrested and imprisoned for crimes connected to the Mafia.
BIG ANG (VH1, 2012-) -- "Mob Wives" spinoff on Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, niece of Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, late captain of the Genovese crime family. She runs the Drunken Monkey, a Staten Island bar.
STATEN ISLAND CAKES (WEtv, 2011-) Reality series about Vinny Buzzetta, who runs The Cake Artist, a bakery in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.
STATEN ISLAND LAW (OWN, 2013) -- Short-lived reality series about Michele Sileo and Elura Nanos, who run a successful mediation practice in the Huguenot section.
Also of note
GIRLS (Feb. 16, 2013) -- In this episode, titled "Boys," Adam (Adam Driver) and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) leave Brooklyn and head for Staten Island to return a stolen dog. Male bonding and culture shock ensue.