Meet the Original JWoww and Snooki, Would-Be Stars of Bridge & Tunnel

Brianna and Gabriella almost escaped from Staten Island. But MTV pulled the plug on the original Jersey Shore

Gabriella and Brianna enter rooms like two Tasmanian she-devils. That's how it happens one Tuesday at E Squared Café, a strip-mall hookah bar masquerading as a bubble-tea outpost that a Yelp reviewer insists "doesn't belong in S.I." It's only a few blocks from where the DeBartoli sisters live with their father and stepmother, tucked in Page Avenue's Tottenville Shopping Center, and B&T filmed here frequently last summer. A little past 6, the only customers are an afterschool crew of acne-blotched teenagers taking turns with a rented water pipe. But then 21-year-old Gabby enters—stunning, with thick red lips and a beauty mark—and immediately starts shouting about how her knee-length boots are stuffed. She's talking so fast it’s impossible to keep up, and 20-year-old Brianna starts laughing, and holy crap, their arrival is like a human helicopter landing. Without looking at the menu, they order green-tea smoothies, which will arrive with no charge. "It's sweet and it's yummy wit' whipped cream!" Gabriella shouts after the attendant, as he shuffles off.

"So much for a diet," Brianna says. After this, she is headed to the gym. "It's still a diet as far as I'm concerned," insists Gabriella, who recently prepped for bathing-suit season by eating only 500 calories a day for a month.

"Your boobies look really big," Gabby says admiringly.

"Oh, it's the Victoria's Secret!" Brianna replies.

"I'm a very honest person," Gabriella likes to say, and she is. Within 10 minutes of our first meeting, Gabriella wants it known that she's a huge prude. "I date a lot of people, don't get me wrong. But literally, that area"—she says, pointing at her crotch—"was touched twice by serious people." Less than five minutes later, she clarifies why she might be talking funny. "I had my lip done for the first time—I tried, like, injections—and if I'm talking like an asshole, I apologize." This was all in one breath.

Brianna cracks up. "Usually when people get their lip injected, they don't want anyone to know, but—"

"I'm crazy, that's all right," her sister interrupts, waving it off. "I'll tell the world. This guy I'm dating, I told him too, I have no problem with it. He's the only person I told for a while. Anyway, another thing—"

This also concerns her mouth, specifically what it can discuss. None of the 10 contracted Bridge & Tunnel cast members are allowed to talk about the show. (Thankfully, Staten Island is small, and there were many witnesses.) They've signed enormously binding contracts, legal documents that seemed to be written in another language but that they accepted anyway, and they can't address those either. [See an example of a Real World contract here.]

Fortunately, other people can. Joseph Melillo, a 24-year-old general assignment reporter for WENY-TV in Elmira, was offered a role in Real World XXIII: Washington D.C., but declined once he read the contract. "My image, my life story—all that was theirs," the Trinity College grad recalls. Melillo also has Crohn's disease, and if he had agreed to the paperwork, he would've lost his HIPAA privacy rights. MTV would've had complete freedom to exploit his medical history.

Producers urged him to rethink, so his lawyer emailed modification requests for 36 of the hefty document's 250 stipulations. The network came back with one change. Under the original proposal, the crew could enter Melillo's childhood home and take memorabilia for the show at any time. With this change, Joe's mom could "say no if she was home."

When Brianna got the magic phone call, she was at the mall, working at a dog ID-tag stand. You can quit your job! the voice on the other end cheered. Your life is going to change! MTV bought the pilot! "I was going crazy in the middle of the mall, screaming! And everyone's looking at me like I just found out I'm pregnant." (Another MTV show entirely.) Brianna would continue as a focal point of Bridge & Tunnel as it unfurled in May 2010, as would on-off boyfriend Timmy, Robby the dancer, and fashionista-hopeful Alycia. But other supporting characters who'd been involved during the 18-month gestation period had moved, dropped off, or proved themselves unable to withstand the rigors of full-time filming, so new subjects were also recruited.

There was Jimmy Gambardella, one of Robby's dancer friends who'd been a hired-gun party motivator since he was 12 or 13. ("Everybody thinks I'm older," he brags, confessing that when he first started, "I was in my glory days.") Jimmy toiled at a construction job during the week, aspired to be an actor or a model, and boasted the nickname Dilla, given by girls in his neighborhood. "When I was drunk, I dropped my pants and so they called me big, ah, Dilla." There was Gabby's ex, Joseph Bonomo, a soon-to-be law student who'd been invited to audition when casting directors heard he had his own anthem, written by a friend, spoofing the Nickelback song “Rock Star.” There was Tim's friend Marykate and another girl, Jessica, and Brianna's cousin Angelo, who wasn't contracted, but proved to be so charismatic that producers kept asking him to film with the cast. (The boob-bong in the trailer was his; he's drinking from one of the nipples.)

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
47 comments
VectoriaBac
VectoriaBac

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from : BidsBit.com

Christopher12
Christopher12

The start-up cost for my entire brewing kit was just over $200, but I do believe I did get a couple of things I didn't necessarily need at the time. Essentially it comes down to ingredients and materials. The materials are the bulk of your costs up front. But the idea is that you can reuse most, if not all, of your materials for future batches. Google was my friend in helping me find a local home brew shop here in Fullerton, Ca. I found Addison Homebrew Provisions to be a very helpful in gathering the best materials for my first brew.

NYCPex
NYCPex

I'm frankly surprised MTV hasn't aired this yet. Barbaric baboons with no manners and less sense behaving badly? It's their M.O. I mean, the nation's appetite for drunk bimbos taking their hair extensions out and diving into a swimming pool in their dresses has not yet been sated. C'mon, MTV, you can't deprive of us this.

Seriously, if you want to see a documentary about misbehaving chimps, just see "Project Nim."

Ted Ball
Ted Ball

I moved to staten island from miami and could'nt move away fast enough, the people there are the biggest bunch of morons you'll ever have the displeasure of encountering,every italian kid thinks he's connected and the girls idea of a great guy is some gym rat that drives an olds 88with dark glass and 20 inch rims. who's a mamas boy.I actually had one of these guys come to my front door and ask me to shovel in front of my home so he could park his car there so he would'nt have to park in the lot of his condominium complex..

tre
tre

as much as i would love to see mtv put on a show that is tasteful, it isnt going to happen...look what they allow on now. these kids arent the first or last of disgraceful humans mtv will parade around for millions of dollars. they do look entertaining though smh

sal
sal

joe bonomo is meant to be on tv... "im not the situation, more like a solution"

jake b
jake b

I had some classes at NYU with Michelle and she's absolutely fabulous. Smart, gorgeous girl...YOU GO MICHELLE!

love,jake b

jt rockland
jt rockland

staten island has way too many characters, these people really exist? so funny, would love to meet the cast

laurie XOX
laurie XOX

is there still hope for this to air? HOPE SO!!!! looks amazing.

james g
james g

staten island like everywhere else in the world has all kinds of people...this show actually shows that. it isnt just guidos in a house worrying about partying. you have people in relationships, working, in school, trying to make it big in business or whatever and then yeah, you have some people you can make fun of....def has it all, 100%

Chriz
Chriz

dis show is guna be huge

Brooklyn123
Brooklyn123

this show looks so funny, i looked at the trailer and i can't wait for it to air

David Roldan
David Roldan

These 2 girl's are absolutely GROSS ! Two giraffes with big lips.

Joanne R. Pacicca
Joanne R. Pacicca

Honestly, this is a question for the straight men... are you really truly attracted to women like these Jersey girls? Do you find them likable? Please vent...

Thiet ke to gap
Thiet ke to gap

I find programming that many people hate so much is wrong

CaliInTexas
CaliInTexas

GARBAGE!!!!!! MTV is trash...they need to change the name to TTV (trash tv) they have NOTHING to do with MUSIC any longer.

Brooklyn123
Brooklyn123

this show stopped filming last year and it still makes front page! come one MTV wake up, this show obviously has something special

Guest
Guest

people are such haters, this show looks amazing

Guest
Guest

AIR THIS SHOW

rob k
rob k

real people, real life...THAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT FOR MTV. wow, instead of people in houses (real world, jersey shore) or stupid scripted shows (rj whoever)...get kids people can relate to or maybe make fun of, but believe me they will be watching

amir
amir

unintelligence is ready a 7-page article about people and still only judging them from a minute-long trailer

Sakara
Sakara

more trashy, sleazy, stoopid nonsense from the filthy suit and tie millionaires that create mtv shows.

and these skanks would have gotten upwards of $100,000 an episode if the show would have became a hit.

NY TIMES BEST SELLER NEXT FOR THESE TWO!

Gmimozo
Gmimozo

This is just sad. Why are you placating such utter nonsense? This isn't news and certainly doesn't deserve a COVER story. The real news is the story of each and every Staten Islander who is actually contributing to society and not just trying to get rich quick from media outlets like MTV who have turned our Island into a joke among the masses.

As an Islander who isn't trying to "get outta heah" but who is trying to make the place I live better and earn the respect of a city who treats my home like a bastard step child who only breeds guidos and has nothing to offer the great city of New York.

Do you understand how hard it is to fight a stereotype like this? You make it extremely difficult by making this crap news. Why not come here and do some real reporting? I implore you to do so. In fact, I dare you to. I'll be your tour guide and I'll show you what Staten Island is ACTUALLY about. Because that is news. We're the little borough that could, constantly fighting an uphill battle against media outlets everywhere to stop reporting on this small minority and start investigating what life and the people who live here are really like.

Are you up for the challenge? Because I'm ready when you are.

Bernard
Bernard

When is it coming out???

Chris
Chris

what a great article and would be great show. who knew these kids had ambition and were smart and going places? shows you can't judge someone from a minute long clip!

BrentMiller
BrentMiller

I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, GrabPenny.com

niaoren
niaoren

Hello,everyone,sorry take your time a min,show a good fashion stuff

website —— www (vipstores) net —— you can input on your web there,if you

do know how to do,you can click my username and you will come

our company website,maybe you will find something your like,thanks!

Guest
Guest

Amy Winehouse is dead yet these bozo's live and MTV is paying them lot's of money. The world is truly absurd.

Linlili32
Linlili32

Hello,everyone,sorry take your time a min,show a good fashion stuff

website —— www (vipstores) net —— you can input on your web there,if you

do know how to do,you can click my username and you will come

our company website,maybe you will find something your like,thanks!

james g
james g

did you even real the article? the whole premise was showing who this people really are...a diverse group of kids with different goals and everything and most importantly they are from STATEN ISLAND not jersey

Brooklyn123
Brooklyn123

jersey isn't staten island, different states different girls

james g
james g

you really took nothing away from the article, huh? saying people are trash is 1. terrible and 2. the whole premise of the story was showing that there is more to these people than the trailer...come on

Brooklyn123
Brooklyn123

soooo funny, i was just thinking the same thing.

amir
amir

reading* (stupid iphone)

CantAbideLiars
CantAbideLiars

This story, for one thing, is waaaaay too long.

And no matter how seriously MTV initially agrees to treat subj matter (16 and Pregnant), it eventually goes to the lowest common denominator (Teen Moms) and just grinds out stereotypes and crap.

All these commenters here begging for this show to be aired are just the cast members and their buds.

james g
james g

i know a few of these people and you really must have read the article with your eyes closed. the show shows a whole range of what staten island offers...and there are the stereotypical people, yes...but there are also people that despite their tan, accent or whatever, are really smart, motivated people. don't generalize the people in the show like you claim people generalize staten island because then you are no better

amir
amir

YOU KNOW HOW YOU "CHANGE A STEREOTYPE"????????? THROUGH YOURSELF. funny you people complain about people judging you but you will judge a group of strangers through a two second clip of their life. terrible

never look back
never look back

You can't change the stereotype. I left State Island in 92' and haven't been back. I wasn't at all surprised when Jersey Shore aired and nothing had changed. You are more than welcome to stay in an area that, indeed, breeds quidos and offers nothing. I'll be watching the show from out of state.

james g
james g

at least someone admits it!

Mike NYC
Mike NYC

cry me a river...just seems you weren't good enough to break the SI "stereotype"....i am from SI and trust me, i am far more successful than many people from other parts of the country

Guest
Guest

Stop being an enabler.

 
Loading...