Sharks and Jersey Shore: How could it miss?

The Saturday Syfy films tend to be fun ... and there will be new ones for four straight weeks.  That starts June 9 with "Jersey Shore Shark Attack," which is pretty close to mandatory viewing. Here's the story I sent to papers:



As soon as the title was announced, it
was clear the Syfy Channel would grab attention.

“Jersey Shore Shark Attack”? This
would have everything Syfy savors – taut torsos, cruel creatures,
severed limbs, fountains of blood … and businessmen and politicians
saying everything is fine.

Now the channel goes further: This will
be the first of four straight Saturdays with original movies.

“School's out and people want the fun
stuff,” said Thomas Vitale, Syfy's production chief.

That's a word that pops up a lot. “I
thought it would be a fun kind of idea,” said Jeremy Luke.

He stars in “Shark Attack” as TC
(also known as The Complication), whose girlfriend Nooki is small in
stature and large in hair, breasts and voice. They seem a lot like
the real people from MTV's “Jersey Shore” – except they also
will display nobility and lifesaving heroics.

And that's all part of the Syfy plan.
“We took that B-movie format and updated it,” Vitale said.

The original format flourished more
than a half-century ago, filling double features and drive-in
theaters. Back in the 1950s, Roger Corman produced “Teenage
Caveman,” “Hot Car Girl,” “Attack of the Giant Leaches,”
“The Beast With a Million Eyes” and many more.

Vitale recalls watching some of them as
4:30 p.m. movies on his local TV station. Luke recalls Lloyd
Kaufman's 1988 “Troma's War” as a favorite. “It was so
ridiculous and fun.”

Most nights, Syfy – formerly Sci Fi –
prefers to be serious (“Battlestar Galactica,” “Stargate”) or
slyly whimsical (Eureka, Warehouse 13). On Saturdays – B-movie time
– it gets much looser.

But how loose? Looking at films that
were already completed and being pitched to the network, Vitale saw
some that went too far. He recalls a heroine moaning: “It killed
all my friends and I broke a nail.”

Syfy decided to be involved in
producing films from the start. Yes, it would keep the loose tone and
wild titles. (Lately, Corman, now 86, has supplied “Sharktopus,”
“Dinoshark,” “Supergator” and more; other producers ranged
from “Alien Tornado” to “Zombie Apocalypse.”) Still, it would
insist on:

– Diversity, including gender.
“Jersey Shore Shark Attack” is an exception, but many of the
films have action heroines, strong and decisive.

– Technology. In a cell-phone world,
it's harder for someone to get stranded on a haunted trail. “We
have to make the technology work for us,” Vitale said

– Some sort of explanation. “We
make sure there's at least a pseudo-science involved,” he said.

– And people who make sense in their
own way. “They're consistent as characters,” Vitale said.

That's Luke's part. He can see why
blue-collar Italian-Americans have become TV favorites. “They do
not really care what other people think of them; there's something to
be said for that.”

He's from Staten Island and his friend
Joey Russo is from New Jersey. “We would go to the Jersey shore a
lot,” Luke said, “but the beach was probably the last place we'd

Back then, he said, the beaches were in
bad shape (“you'd find hypodermic needles”), but the rest
thrived. At 19 and 20, he became a nightclub promoter who studied
acting; in his early 20s, he moved to Los Angeles and got small
roles. He and Russo also made odd videos “about a couple of

Now, by coincidence, they're in the
same movie. Luke is T.C., a lusty guy who loves his friends, his abs,
his dad, Nooki and the breezy Jersey Shore culture. Russo is Donnie,
one of those friends.

Then sharks intrude. Soon, they've
taken some friends, a stranger and Joey Fatone of N'Sync. It's time –
in the best B-movie tradition – for hard-bodied Italians to blast
away the killers.

– “Jersey Shore Shark Attack,” 9
p.m. Saturday, Syfy; repeats at 1 a.m.

– First of four straight new movies
on Syfy Saturdays:

– Roger Corman's “Piranhaconda”is
June 16; then Arachnoquake,” June 23; “Big Foot,” June 30,