A New Reality Show Sets Its Sights On Seaside Heights

Bamboo Bar (Photo courtesy of Bamboo Facebook Page)

SEASIDE HEIGHTS – After a casting call for a new reality show went up on the Bamboo Bar’s Facebook page, borough officials wanted to make sure that any television show would present the town in the family-friendly atmosphere that they are trying to cater to.

The post advertised that the production company 18toLife will be casting people at the bar, located at 201 Boulevard, at 10 p.m. on February 18. It would be for a show with a working title of “I Love Summer,” focusing on housemates who work at the Bamboo at night. The call went out to “loud and fun” single men and women of all ethnicities. “Think old school MTV/VH1,” the casting call stated. It was planned to be shot over the summer.

It was news to township officials.

Production companies have to apply for a license to film in a town. Business Administrator Christopher Vaz said he did not know about this until someone sent a text about it. Three other production companies have applied to film in the borough this year, but this wasn’t one of them.

“In our view, a legitimate film company would know they have to go through the town first,” he said.

This morning, borough officials spoke to Bamboo management, he said. They informed the town that the production company is made up of film school graduates who plan on filming a pilot and then soliciting it to outlets.

“There’s an understanding on their part that a sit-down with the town should have happened,” he said.

Although the nightclubs in Seaside Heights play up the area’s party atmosphere, the borough has continually tried to make the beach and boardwalk a family destination.

“Our position is that if it portrays Seaside Heights in a negative light, it’s going to be very difficult for them to get approval to film here,” Vaz said.

Attempts to contact the Bamboo were not successful as of press time.

The show clearly evoked “Jersey Shore,” the MTV reality show that debuted in 2009, and gave birth to spinoffs. While that show put several shore locations on the map in the country’s collective consciousness, many local residents sought to distance themselves from the way Jersey Shore characters acted from the way most people at the Jersey shore really were.

However, they might not have been as rowdy as the reputation they earned. Some of the towns they filmed in reported no problems.

In 2009, cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was found guilty of causing a public disturbance. Many residents have stories of seeing cast members partying. However, some of the reputation came from how the shows were scripted and advertised. At the time, MTV referred to the cast as a “outrageous and hilarious dysfunctional family” on its website. That reputation followed them and turned local residents against them. In 2010, residents of South Seaside Park, which is part of Berkeley Township, were concerned that cast members were going to Bum Rogers, a bar there.

In 2013, Pelican Island, another section of Berkeley that is just over the bridge before Seaside, was chosen for a spin-off location. This drew concern from residents there, too, as they were recovering from Superstorm Sandy. Manchester, miles from the shore, also housed a spinoff. Police there said that outside of some traffic in the first few weeks of filming, as people drove by to check the place out, there were no problems there.