Jonathan Murray interview: ‘The Real World Homecoming’

When MTV’s “The Real World” came along in 1992, there were no reality categories at the Emmy Awards, recalls uber-producer Jonathan Murray, who’s now overseeing “The Real World Homecoming” on Paramount+. “So we would be in non-fiction going up against a Bill Moyers news special,” he explains. “It was many years before they got the competition category and then the reality category, which now has been divided into structured and unstructured.” He joins Gold Derby as part of our Meet the Experts: Reality TV panel (watch the exclusive video interview above).

“Before us, this idea of casting people and putting them together to learn something hadn’t been done,” notes Murray. “We had documentaries where we just follow seven people who are already friends, but no one had this idea of putting people together to see what would happen.” The producer is a 15-time Emmy nominee who took home trophies for “Autism: The Musical” (2008) and “Born This Way” (2016).

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Speaking of seeing “what would happen,” he opens up about the current “The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans” season streaming on Paramount+ which reunites the cast from the original 2000 installment. “That cast just hit on some issues that are so relevant today and we knew that we could get all seven of them to come,” he says about David “Tokyo” Broom, Melissa Beck, Jamie Murray, Danny Roberts, Matt Smith, Julie Stoffer and Kelley Wolf. Murray adds, “We just thought there was a real opportunity, plus there was some unfinished business between them, so we felt that there was going to be a really powerful story that would took place.”

The cast members didn’t need extra coaxing to come back because “they had the benefit of seeing what we did with New York particularly,” which aired in Spring 2021. Murray declares, “They saw that this was an interesting opportunity for them to really work with us to sort of tell their stories about how that initial experience had affected them and what things had happened to them since then… I think they felt that they could come into a very safe space to have this ‘Homecoming.'”

Murray readily admits that “it takes time” find all of the old clips and deleted scenes from 22 years ago to juxtapose with the current storyline. “There’s a lot of tapes and I don’t think we notated them as well as we should have back then,” he reveals. “So there’s a lot of surfing through to find things… and then some things seem to have more relevance now.”

Also in our exclusive video interview, Murray speaks in detail about two topics that are just as important than ever: racism and gay rights. “With Melissa particularly,” he begins, “there are a couple times she used the phrase ‘white privilege’ back then and I think it just sort of went by us and I don’t even think we included it in the initial show.” He then reminds viewers about Danny and Paul’s love story from 2000 and how they had to “blur Paul’s face” because he was in the military.

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UPLOADED Jun 1, 2022 8:00 am