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Reality TV bill would prevent N.J. towns from creating a 'Situation'

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While local companies throughout the state see a business boost when reality shows are filmed in their communities, Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-Jackson) today announced plans to introduce legislation that would allow municipalities to control the shows' production.

"Life is more than 'gym, tanning and laundry' to communities hosting reality TV shows," Dancer said in a statement. "The reality is these shows may cost taxpayers money by requiring additional services when cameras are rolling in town and town leaders should have the option to license and regulate if deemed necessary."

But Steven Gorelick, executive director of the New Jersey Motion Picture & Television Commission, said towns like Manchester — where taping is under way for the second season of MTV’s Jersey Shore spin-off “Snooki & JWoww” — already exercise that power on a daily basis.

“Towns should be allowed to control the filming — and they do. Different towns have different ordinances, but even if a town doesn’t have an ordinance, it can certainly require a production company to pay to hire off-duty police for crowd control or extra security,” Gorelick said. “The production companies work every day with the towns to come up with solutions for what the police presence should be, so I don’t see what this legislation would provide in addition to that. The towns already have full control.”

Mayor Michael Fressola said Manchester doesn’t have an ordinance that would permit it to force Snooki & JWoww production company 495 Productions to pay for additional police officers, but he noted, “it’s not needed, either.”

 “They’ve been here almost six weeks and we’ve have had no incidents at all. If there was an incident, we have nothing in place that would require them to contribute, so they would have to do it on a voluntary basis — but I really don’t anticipate the need for that,” Fressola said. “It sounds to me like this law would be a supplement to what other towns have in place that we don’t, but I don’t know what the effect of it would be.”

Dancer said the so-called proposed “Snookiville” law would explicitly permit towns to adopt licensing ordinances to regulate reality television shows by requiring production crews to pay for any additional police officers needed to ensure public safety.

“The popularity of MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ and other reality shows can attract crowds to a community. That can be great for local businesses and a costly challenge to a town’s ability to control crowds and protect public safety,” Dancer said in a statement. “This will help local officials make sure that the attention reality stars like Snooki and JWoww bring to their town benefits local residents and businesses.”


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