Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano can now add reality star to a resume that includes murderer of at least 19 people, mafia underboss, federal informant, former witness protection recipient, author, and family ecstasy ring leader. Salvatore joins his ex-con daughter (and Mob Wives star) Karen Gravano, granddaughter Karina Seabrook, and three other New York families associated with organized crime for MTV’s new-ish reality series Families of the Mafia premiering April 9.
Many of the younger faces of Families of the Mafia will be familiar to MTV viewers as they were featured on the network’s short-lived reality series Made In Staten Island early last year. After garnering a lot of criticism prior to its premiere, Made In Staten Island premiered with 485,000 viewers. It wasn’t a horrible start, but unfortunately the following two episodes went down instead of up with Episode 2 bringing in 299,000 and Episode 3 managing to pull in just 362,000.
The slow start and immediate decline was enough for MTV to pull the show after just three episodes. “We weren’t canceled. We just had a couple of things come up,” show producer (and mother of cast member Karina Seabrook) Karen Gravano said at the time. “We actually pulled out, because we were filming and so many things were happening. We wanted to be able to add layers to the show and we couldn’t at the time.” She then hinted that the show being pulled wasn’t necessarily the end. “We’re still working on it. We’ll definitely be back,” Karen teased.
“Everybody just stay in tune with MTV,” cast member Christian Patterson tweeted. “The show didn’t get taken off, we got something in store.”
Judging from the Families of the Mafia preview trailer (included below), it appears that producers decided to give the concept of the series a complete overhaul by introducing the parents and grandparents as central cast members — including Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano.
Here is the preview trailer:
There were reportedly ten episodes of Made In Staten Island planned when it was prematurely yanked from the schedule. It remains unclear if Families of the Mafia will include footage from the remaining seven episodes.
The attempt at repackaging and rebranding a reality show flop is nothing new for MTV. The network attempted a similar ploy with their reality series Pretty Little Mamas, which premiered in August of 2018 with 440,000 viewers — pretty similar to Made In Staten Island. The show had a drastic drop off the following week with just 317,000 viewers tuning in for the second episode.
MTV pulled Pretty Little Mamas after the second episode with no explanation at all. Roughly six months later, MTV announced that they had revamped the series and were bringing it back as an official member of the Teen Mom franchise. Unfortunately, Teen Mom: Young Moms Club premiered even lower than its former incarnation and never managed to recover.
In our post about MTV repackaging Pretty Little Mamas, we made some suggestions about other shows the network might consider giving the same treatment to (for example: Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club could return as Mykonos Shore), but we didn’t even think about Made In Staten Island! Our omission was evidenced by this tweet in response to someone bringing up the possible rebirth of Made In Staten Island on Twitter:
I actually included a list of potential shows MTV could do the same thing with in the post, but I forgot #MadeInStatenIsland. I thought I was joking 🤷🏻♀️ So is it going to be "Staten Island Shore" or something?
— Starcasm (@starcasm) April 8, 2019
Here are the official bios for the cast of Families of the Mafia from MTV:
The LaRoccas: Gina LaRocca, Christian “CP” Patterson, Trish Gelardi and Anthony Gelardi
Gina LaRocca jumped into the drug world in Staten Island and Brooklyn, which caused her to lose contact with her son “CP.” After his father was also sent to upstate New York prison on a seven-year sentence for narcotics charges, CP was left to be raised by his Aunt Trish and Uncle Anthony. While Trish and Anthony have stayed out of the street life, they are no strangers to it. The duo is trying to build a life for CP, who has had his own issues with the law. The older CP gets, the more Gina, Trish and Anthony have tried to show him a life away from the streets, using his father as the greatest example of where the mafia lifestyle can lead you.
The Augustines: Lisa Augustine and Dennie Augustine
When you’re raised on Staten Island, you encounter families both in the lifestyle and out. Lisa Augustine and Karen Gravano grew up in the same friend circle, although they came from two different worlds. Lisa’s daughter Dennie just finished college, and Lisa is trying to ensure she stays on the right path. Everyone has their demons, and Dennie is no exception—her father abandoned her and Lisa when she was young, and it’s something that haunts her to this day.
The O’Tooles: Joe and Taylor O’Toole, Billy O’Toole and Jess Clare
Billy O’Toole was brought up in the Irish mafia lifestyle and followed in the footsteps of his father, “Wild Bill,” who made a name for himself on the streets of Brooklyn. Due to his unusual upbringing, Billy wasn’t around to help raise his twins Joe and Taylor; everything fell to his ex-wife Jess, a hard-working single mom. Both Joe and Taylor have had run-ins with the law, and Jess is doing everything she can to make sure her kids don’t continue the family’s destructive cycle.
The Gravanos: Karen Gravano (VH1’s Mob Wives), Karina Seabrook, Ramona Rizzo and “Sammy The Bull” Gravano
Karen’s father, “Sammy The Bull” Gravano, was the underboss of the Gambino crime family who ensured his family never wanted for anything. But nothing lasts forever. Despite their tumultuous past, Karen strives to ensure her daughter Karina stays on the right path and focuses on more than her volatile boyfriend Paulie. Meanwhile, Sammy is keeping tabs on both women, trying to ensure the Gravanos living on Staten Island now fare better than those of yesteryear.
— Starcasm (@starcasm) January 22, 2019
Families of the Mafia premieres Thursday, April 9 at 9/8c on MTV.