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

Michelle and Bonomo both sought to become white-collar professionals; they viewed Bridge & Tunnel as an adventure, not an endgame. She'd studied pre-med at NYU; he'd been accepted to New York Law; she'd decided to do post-grad work this fall. No matter what, her plan was that "even if I was famous on Oprah, I was still going to school in 2011." Together, Michelle and Bonomo represented another side of the Staten Island class divide, which became another subtext of B&T's narrative arc: the difference between a "goon" and a "guido"/"gumba." As a Bridge & Tunnel one-sheet broke it down, "The goons are considered street kids who hang out on the stoops, while the gumbas are the club-hoppers." Brianna and Tim, who sat under bridges and could barely afford the cigarettes they smoked, were the goons. Michelle wasn't exactly a club-hopping guidette, but she could pass. Recently, she says, "when I was at Forever 21, a woman asked me—she had a daughter going to college—and she's like, 'What did you study?' I told her, and she's like, 'Oh, I'm sorry, you don't look like you're smart.' "

Michelle and Bonomo were not Jersey Shore, they reminded each other, and they were going to behave respectably on camera. And then Michelle found herself getting pegged with water balloons on the Fourth of July.

The DeBartoli sisters were born in Brooklyn, but have lived in Staten Island as long as they can remember. Just 18 months apart, they are best friends and perfect foils. "Gabby was always a prissy diva," says their 22-year-old cousin Angelo DeBartoli. "Brianna was a tomboy. She was a little gangsta, sweatpants and tanktops and shit like that."

The elder, Gabby, went to Moore Catholic High School for two years, where, according to the younger, she was a "straight-A, I-do-everything-right" type of student. (Gabriella disagrees, pointing out that she was so frequently in private-school detention for silly violations like chewing gum that she eventually transferred to the nearby public Tottenville High.) Meanwhile, Brianna couldn't stop getting suspended. "I was a bad child," she concedes. "My first fight was the fourth grade because someone stepped on my new Skechers. Punched them right in the face, and then it never stopped. I got punch-happy, I guess."

"Yes, she did have a couple problems like that," her mother admits. "Brianna's the type that she doesn't take crap from nobody."

So one can only imagine what Brianna's response would be when catty strangers saw cameras trailing her at clubs and, sensing a hater-cameo opportunity, threw ice chunks at her head.

Or when after years she spent filming MTV pilots that treated her as an intriguing specimen of Manhattan-commuter youth, suddenly a bunch of flimsier, cheesier fifth-borough reproductions of her and her friends are famous, and people heckle her for being the copycat.

Brianna can't talk about it, but there it is in the trailer: her getting carried out of a club, lunging; her slugging a dude in the face. "People would come up and call Brianna 'Snooki' because of the way she was doing her hair," cousin Angelo recalls. "Brianna was pretty cool with it at first, but I'm so protective of her. I was, like, 'Snooki is a piece of trash. How are they calling you Snooki? They don't know anything about you.' "

It's called Drama Island for a reason. During filming last summer, Timmy and Brianna would hook up, then argue, then talk. Michelle and Gabby seethed in each other's general direction, water balloons got lobbed at Michelle one night, and eventually they ended up in an all-out pushing fight. Gabby and Jimmy made out in an Atlantic City pool. At home, Gabby constantly reminded Brianna, "Every time we get ready, we're not getting ready for the people we're seeing tonight. We're getting ready for America!" Brianna's cell phone broke. She didn't care; she just thought, Soon I'll be the Sprint spokesperson.

"I could just see the premise, and what they were looking for there was probably going to be no different than the Jersey Shore," says Johnny Feva, a local DJ at Rhythm & Brews—a Dongan Hills bar where, Jimmy says dismissively, "you can catch the 50-year-old single mother chilling out." Feva refused to sign release forms when the camera crew came to his night. "People who were getting off the island? That's probably a good way of them saying, 'All train wrecks in Staten Island, please apply.' "

Feva was so disgusted that he made a YouTube video last August asking MTV to stay off Staten Island. Too late. Bridge & Tunnel's premiere date was Tuesday, October 26, 2010, at 10:30 p.m. Strategic timing, since the Miami-based finale of Jersey Shore's second season would air the previous Thursday. To ensure that this information didn't leak, bodyguards shadowed the B&T cast to Atlantic City. Linda Vitale planned to fly into New York for the kickoff to be with her two daughters. The production crew threw a wrap dinner with the entire cast. Gabriella, who'd been skeptical about the show's future not just because a psychic told her it wouldn't air, stood up and squealed, Is this really happening?!?

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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.

 
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