Bunim/Murray 'Starting Over' producers sued by ritzy Gold Coast neighbors
By Reality TV World staff, 06/05/2003
The Associated Press reports that Bunim/Murray Productions, the producers of this fall's new upcoming "Starting Over" syndicated reality program, are being sued by angry residents of an upscale neighborhood who don't want the program to set up shop near them.
According to the report, some homeowners in Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood are suing to stop producers from using a nearby home to house and film six women as they try to "reinvent their lives" for the series. Other residents have protested to city officials, worried the show might attract unsavory characters. The lawsuit filed by five area homeowners alleges that Bunim/Murray Productions, which is best known for its MTV "The Real World" series, is violating zoning law because it is a commercial enterprise. The suit also contends the house renovation goes beyond what's allowed in the building permit.
Some residents cite a notice on the Internet inviting former gang members, former prison inmates or spouses of prison inmates to try out for the show. "However you look at it, it's a halfway house for a bunch of malcontents," Cynthia Metivier, a 27-year resident. She added the producers have blamed the notice on an overzealous casting assistant, saying it did not reflect the kind of women they were looking for. "They say we're bringing an unsavory character to the neighborhood (and) that's not what we're doing," Jim Johnston, one of the show's producers, said Wednesday. Robert Fioretti, an attorney representing the owner of the property in dispute, said the project complies with all laws and building codes. According to producers, the women include a woman who wants to get back together with her estranged husband and another who wants to leave a lucrative job to become a children's therapist. "Malcontents" indeed.
This isn't the first time that Bunim/Murray Productions and Chicago residents have clashed -- in Summer 2001, Wicker Park residents also protested Bunim/Murray's decision to film "The Real World: Chicago" in the trendy, hip neighborhood. During production, the Chicago cast endured protests, vandalism, and constant onlookers. Our only question is, after their last experience, why would Bunim/Murray possibly want to go back to the city again???