Jersey ShoreAug. 5, 2011, for The Associated Press
by Josh Lederman

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — It was a mix of chaos and cross-talk, lipstick and hairspray Thursday as the cast of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” converged on the Seaside Heights house that has become synonymous with beachside debauchery.

“Wow, the counter’s actually clean.”

“What are we doing?”

“I don’t know, nobody told us.”

“We have warm Diet Pepsi? Fine.”

The eight hard-partying personalities recently returned from Florence, Italy, filming the fourth season of their wildly popular reality television show, which was scheduled to premiere Thursday night. And spending six weeks in each other’s presence in a foreign country led to all-out brawls and the most dramatic season yet, cast members said in interviews with The Associated Press.

“Drama, hookups, breakups, makeups,” said Ronnie Ortiz-Magro.

A preview of the fourth season released by MTV shows Ortiz-Magro and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino in a major confrontation, turning over furniture and screaming before paramedics carry someone out on a stretcher. Cast member Vinny Guadagnino said that was the first time two housemates had fought with each other.

“We’re stuck in the house together, and all we had was each other in Italy, so the beef is bound to come out,” Guadagnino said.
And for the Italian-American themed show that has made “guido” and “guidette” household words, the Italy season was a chance for some to reconnect with their heritage. Sorrentino said his ancestry is 100 percent Italian — half from Sicily and half from Naples — and he recognized elements of his childhood when Italians brought out course after course of food at even the most casual of meals.

“It really was something else for me to see that, and relate it back to my family,” he said. “Just as the way the Italians spoke.
They speak with their hands, as I do.”

MTV goes to great lengths to keep the details of the show secret until they hit the airwaves, but one cast member still managed to make major international headlines while in Florence. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi had her driver’s license revoked in June after a fender-bender with a police car that left two officers slightly injured.

“Actually, it was kind of funny because it wasn’t like anything serious,” Polizzi said, curled up on the couch next to Ortiz-Magro in the house where they finished shooting season five on Tuesday.

The cast returned from Italy at the end of June and immediately starting filming the fifth season in Seaside Heights. That season will air later in the year.

The four boys and four girls seemed at home as they sprawled out on couches. Across the street, dozens of fans congregated, anxiously hoping to catch a glimpse of the beer-loving, loud-talking youngsters.

The luxurious seaside home features a private elevated deck with a Jacuzzi that has been the scene of many on-air hookups. Inside, massive red beanbag chairs sit underneath ocean-themed artwork and a poster from the movie “Scarface.” At the entrance of the home is the duck-shaped telephone recognizable instantly to the show’s millions of fans.

But not everyone is a fan. Italian-American group UNICO has said the show denigrates people of Italian heritage and demanded MTV cancel the show. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has made his disdain for the show no secret, claiming it portrays the state in a negative light.

“I have to disagree with him. I think it’s great for the state,” said Paul “DJ Pauly D” Delvecchio, arguing it’s a job-creator for a state that relies on tourism revenues. “I’ve talked to people who were here for 20 years and they said it’s never been so busy.”

And despite the frills and novelty of their jet-setting fourth season, the cast said they realized while abroad how much the Jersey Shore had become a part of who they are.

“It used to be Jersey felt a million miles away from me,” said Guadagnino. “I love home. Nothing can beat home.”