“The whole cast was in New York City, and we were just on a high from Jersey Shore and the ratings of the first season,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “We were all in a room, and I guess the MTV lawyers … handed out contracts, and the contracts were the same … from the year before, [which] was a couple thousand dollars for the season, for the whole season, and we worked at the T-shirt shop.”
Mike was standing on business!
Considering Jersey Shore premiered in 2009 when reality TV was still becoming its own, Mike’s contract sounds reasonable. At least compared to what other big-time reality stars were paid for their first seasons. However, Mike wanted more.
“Once they handed me that contract, I just looked at it, and I just knew something wasn’t right. I knew that we had created a TV show that was groundbreaking; it was new, it was fresh, and I didn’t think that it could be duplicated.”
Mike explained that the network executives instructed him to “sign on the dotted line” or risk being replaced. “And in that moment in my life, I felt, I don’t know, I felt like I knew my worth, and I took the chance, and I said, ‘Go ahead and try to replace me,’ and I walked out the room.”
Did Mike’s demands pay off in the end?
The risk of leaving the Big Apple without a signed contract was heavy, but it was well worth it in the end.
“Next thing you know it, a couple weeks later, we got like a million-dollar raise, and that’s probably a big turning point in reality TV obviously for the kids getting paid that much and, just in general, just continuing the show that’s a cast-driven show that’s been on for about 15 years now.”
Mike’s latest revelation comes after former Real Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel’s reality TV reckoning. Some things she’s fighting for include higher wages, fair contracts, and residual pay.
It’s been a while since we’ve gotten an update on Bethenny’s movement. Still, if there is any action, it’ll be interesting to see which MTV stars join the fray, considering they have many staples, including Johnny Bananas, CT Tamburello, and the entire cast of Jersey Shore Family Vacation.
TELL US — WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MIKE ALMOST LEAVING THE SHOW OVER HIS SALARY? DO YOU THINK HIS CONTRACT WAS FAIR AFTER THE FIRST SEASON’S SUCCESS?