LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The ruckus over MTV's "Jersey Shore" is getting as intense as the hot-headed dramatics on the show.
The controversial new reality series chronicling a spirited group of self-described "guidos" living in a New Jersey beach house has drawn protests of increasing volume. Now it appears that calls for a boycott are having an impact.
The Italian-American group UNICO (which also protested HBO's "The Sopranos") has asked members to complain to MTV's advertisers. In the past couple of days, two advertisers on the show -- Domino's Pizza and American Family Insurance -- have pulled out of the series.
In addition, one major media outlet reported that MTV New York offices were receiving death threats because of the show. The network has denied the report.
"('Jersey Shore' furthers) the popular TV notion that Italian-Americans are gel-haired, thuggish ignoramuses with fake tans, no manners, no diction, no taste, no education, no sexual discretion, no hairdressers (for sure), no real knowledge of Italian culture and no ambition beyond expanding steroid- and silicone-enhanced bodies," blasted New York Post critic Linda Stasi on Monday. "Would that programing ever have been allowed if the group were African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Jewish people?"
MTV president of programing Tony DiSanto, an Italian-American, has remained largely mum on the subject, though he told one group, "The cast takes pride in their ethnicity. In fact, it is a key driver of how they bond with each other and self-identify. They refer to themselves as 'guidos' in a positive manner."
Former "Hills" cast member Spencer Pratt defended the network on Twitter: "Linda Stasi you should change your name to Linda Boring if you can't be entertained by young Italian-Americans enjoying youth and partying!"
The initial round of criticism didn't seem to help "Jersey Shore," which debuted Thursday to a relatively modest 1.4 million viewers.
Adding to the drama is a clip from an MTV teaser for an upcoming episode of the show that's making the rounds online. It shows a man punching out one of the female housemates. But it's unclear if any of the conflict -- onscreen or off -- will improve the show's ratings.