‘Jersey Shore’ homage makes splash

While critics are already slinging mud at Lake Shore, the upcoming Toronto-based reality series with a multicultural cast is generating international buzz.
November 11, 2010

Move over, Snooki. A Canadian producer is prepping Lake Shore, a new show ‘inspired by’ MTV ratings juggernaut Jersey Shore and the buzz behind the new project is gaining momentum.

The official party line is that creator and executive producer Maryam Rahimi is currently fielding strong interest from broadcasters. In the meantime, the eight-person Lake Shore cast (dubbed ‘the sexy 8′) has been revealed, decided by public votes through the project’s website. Traffic has been so high since the release of a sizzle reel (garnering thousands of hits on YouTube) that it disabled part of the site’s functionality, thanks to the flurry of local consumer press as well as attention Stateside. [UPDATE: The 'official trailer' uploaded to YouTube, or sizzle reel, has been taken down due to 'a copyright claim by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.' - Ed.]

‘I was not about to do PA work for a good 10 years before I reached where I wanted to be in life,’ Rahimi says, regarding her reasons for creating the series. ‘I needed to do something bold, risqué. I wanted to pick a concept that’s doing really well right now and try to do my own version of it.’

She refers, of course, to Jersey Shore, produced for MTV by Sally Ann Salsano’s 495 Productions. ‘I know that Jersey Shore doesn’t mind any spinoffs, we’ve done that research,’ she says. ‘We’re not out there saying it IS Jersey Shore; it’s a show inspired by Jersey Shore.’

Rahimi, 26, adds that her project is also inspired by The Real World, as Lake Shore also delves into each character’s personal and professional life.

It’s her first foray into TV, having come from indie film and making music videos in Montreal via the company she co-founded, Sunrise Multimedia. Rahimi recently moved to Toronto to find a job in TV, then came up with the concept earlier this spring.

Much like its American counterpart, the buzz behind Lake Shore hasn’t all been positive. In an interview with The Toronto Star, Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, referred to Lake Shore as ‘silly, puerile trash TV,’ while Entertainment Weekly PopWatch blogger Darren Franich concluded from the sizzle reel that Lake Shore is ‘ruder, cruder, and just plain grodier than Jersey Shore.’

Part of what’s stirring up the controversy is the way in which the multicultural cast is presented. The ‘sexy 8′ are introduced in the sizzle reel by their names or nicknames and their individual ethnicity – Joey is ‘The Italian,’ Robyn is ‘The Jew’, et cetera. Gawker summarized its opinion on the project thusly: ‘Congrats, Canada. You’re just as horrible as the rest of us.’

Still, controversy certainly didn’t kill Jersey Shore, now in production on its third season. ‘Jersey Shore is the hottest thing right now, so as a business woman, I decided that was the best investment,’ Rahimi says. ‘As a producer, I saw that’s what’s in demand and that’s what the audience and demographic want to watch.’

She brought on investors from the Middle East, with whom she’d done commercial work, and raised $60,000 to develop the 13-ep, one-hour series. Director George Tsioutsioulas (helmer of the docs The Story of Furious Pete and Miles from Home: A Road Story) has come on board along with creative director Raluca Ene.

Rahimi is looking to extend the Lake Shore drama on the website after the show launches, including commentary from the crew, an after show with the cast, behind the scenes content, and contests for fans.

Licensing and merchandising opps are already on the table, as she’s already inked a deal with an apparel manufacturer in the Middle East that will be rolling out branded lingerie and hats.

Lake Shore is slated to enter production in spring 2011, with a tentative delivery date of mid-summer 2011.

From Playback Daily

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