Bunim-Murray’s acquisition “goes a little way to filling that void” left by Mary-Ellis’ death

Bunim-Murray Productions, the company that created The Real World and thus is largely responsible for establishing reality TV’s early aesthetic and structure, was acquired in March by Banijay Entertainment for the mid eight figures, Variety reported.

Co-founder Mary-Ellis Bunim died in 2004, after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. And co-founder Jon Murray said that the acquisition has helped him reclaim some of what he lost after she died.

“A couple of weeks ago I was at MIPTV and we had a day where we all got together, all of the heads of the different companies, and it was really exciting to be able to exchange ideas [and] hear from them what was going on in their marketplaces. I think for me it’s an exciting next step. While no one will ever be able to replace Mary-Ellis, it does make me feel like I’m part of a big organization and I have other people I can exchange ideas with. It goes a little way to filling that void,” he told RealScreen.

Besides that, Murray said being part of a bigger company will help because those sibling companies can sell international versions of his shows, and he can produce US versions of theirs: “I now have a flow of formats from those other companies in France, Spain, the UK, Norway and Finland from shows that they’ve gotten on the air [in their territories], which is something that at the network level and to some extent the cable network level, the buyers are interested in,” he said.

As to future series, Murray gives his company credit for creating “the first reality constructed comedy,” The Simple Life, and said that now, “We’re developing a number of other reality-comedy ideas for a number of different networks, some who we haven’t worked with before.”

Let’s just hope they’re not as creatively and ethically bankrupt as Bunim-Murray’s current series, from MTV’s The Real World to Oxygen’s awful Bad Girls Club, which recently spun off a dating series, Love Games.

Prodco profile: Bunim/Murray’s Jon Murray [RealScreen]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.