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MTV's 'Real World: Philadelphia' to feature August 24 casting special, premiere September 7


By Reality TV World staff, 08/24/2004 

MTV has announced that the fifteenth season of its popular The Real World series, set in Philadelphia, will premiere Tuesday, September 7 at 10PM ET/PT and officially released the identities of the "seven strangers" that will be living together this season. But despite the announcement, MTV will still milk its long-running reality franchise for everything it can by airing an Out of My Way, Iím Moving In: Tips For Getting Into The Real World one-hour casting special tonight, August 24, at 10PM ET/PT.

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This season's roommates, which appear to be, by recent standards, slightly older than the typical Real World cast, will live in the 10,000 square foot former Merchant Seamenís Institute and Church that was the subject of union labor group picketing that resulted in the Philadelphia production's cancellation and subsequent resumption only weeks before filming was set to begin.

Centered around a stunning marble atrium with a massive potted black olive tree, the building, located in the heart of Philadelphia's "Old City" section and within walking distance of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, was originally the Union National Bank of Philadelphia. After renovations, the now pimped out property features an indoor basketball court, an indoor spa with two hot tubs (hot and cold), a complete gym, a pool table, a video game arcade, and a confessional located inside an old bank vault in the basement.

While Real World: Philadelphia appears to skew slightly older than other recent Real World casts, that doesn't appear to have stopped the network from once again including one now-standard show element that many long-time viewers have come to hate (and which some have even blamed for the program's ever-increasing "four-month drunken party" perception) -- the group job.

This season's corporate product placement will involve the Philadelphia Soul, the Arena Football League (AFL) team co-owned by Jon Bon Jovi. After a brief stint assisting with the last games of the season, the cast will help the team on their community outreach program and is challenged to plan and build a playground for Northern Home, a local care center for troubled youth.

Also present again will be the cast vacation -- this time to Fuji, where the group explore the backpackers' paradise in some remote islands and enjoy the tranquility and luxury of two beautiful resorts. But don't worry, it wouldn't be a modern Real World season without at least one barroom brawl.

The seven members of this season's cast are:

• Karamo, a 23-year-old from Valley Village, CA who attended Florida A&M University where he majored in Business Administration. Currently living in Los Angeles, Karamo is an African American from Houston whose parents are from Jamaica. Heís the youngest of four and has three older sisters whom he considers the most important people in his life. According to MTV, Karamo "lives his life for others" and gives much of his time to charities, politics and non-profits. And when he's not doing that, he's also "struggling with his feelings about interracial dating as a result of his upbringing that was filled with strong anti-white prejudices." But fear not, those looking for this season's stereotypical young angry black man can move on, because Karamo is "working toward keeping an open mind and overcoming these fears and prejudices."

• Landon, a 24-year-old from River Falls, WI who attended the University of Wisconsin. Despite the presence of a Division I-A college football player elsewhere in the cast, MTV states that "when you think sports fanatic, think Landon." But apparently you can't think about it too much, because according to MTV, the poor confused boy is also "sensitive about being labeled a 'dumb jock' and is afraid to 'let go,' fearing that others wonít accept him." Topping off Landon's problems is the fact that he is "still getting over" a recently ended seven-year relationship with his high school sweetheart (where he was a state champion in doubles tennis and ranked fifth in the state in wrestling.) Given all this, we'll go out on a limb and say one of two things are likely to happen -- either he'll be the "second gay guy" who comes out of the closet during the course of the season, or he'll be hooking up with someone by episode three or four. Or maybe both.

• Melanie is a 22-year-old from Santa Cruz, CA. Melanie most recently attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and hopes to become a high school English teacher. According to MTV she's "spontaneous," "loves to dance and party," has a "wild streak," and believes that "if you follow your heart, youíll be happy" -- pretty much the antithesis of every high school English teacher we've ever met, but hey, at least her "wild streak" led her into a "steady romance" with her long-time friend Andy. Watch out folks, clearly there's no stopping this rebellious wild child.

• "MJ" is a 23-year-old from Nashville, TN. Described as a "good-looking, blond, hard-bodied southern boy with a warm heart," MJ is a recent grad from Vanderbilt University where he majored in Human and Organizational Development and "played the role of the star football player." Apparently he wasn't too much of a "star" however, as MTV also notes that his "dreams of playing professional football" were "recently squashed" when he was "turned down" by the NFL. MTV also says that MJ "entered a two-month relationship before moving to Philadelphia" -- so if previous seasons are any guide, it's unlikely that the relationship will make it through the season (although you can expect the Real World producers to exploit its eventual destruction for all the angst that they can get.)

• Sarah is a 22-year-old from Tampa, FL. Born and raised in Florida, Sarah just graduated from Emory University and plans to attend the University of Florida law school in the fall.. Sarah tells MTV that she "isnít afraid to use her sex appeal to get what she wants" and is (of course) most attracted to bad boys who are witty, independent, athletic and a challenge. Like all good aspiring legal weasels, sheís also described as "highly opinionated" and "ready to debate at a drop of a hat." Sarah has overcome an eating disorder, but still struggles with her weight.

• Shavonda is a 21-year-old from Murieta, CA. An African American young woman, Shavonda is described as someone who is "the life of the party" and "loves attention from guys." In high school, Shavonda was a cheerleader and her schoolís first African American homecoming queen. Shavonda struggles to support herself without any family aid and is putting herself through Grossmont Community College. Shavonda currently has a boyfriend to whom she "wants to be faithful," despite the fact that he "is not the kind of jock that usually pursues her." She likes a jock with a sense of humor and likes to be pursued. As a result of a turbulent childhood, Shavonda "generally hopes for the best, but expects the worst."

• Willie is a 23-year-old New York, NY. Willie is a gay Puerto Rican American whom MTV describes as "loving his friends" and "passionate about the arts and performing." Along with his straight twin brother, Willie is the oldest of six children who all remain close despite the fact that he left home at the age of 15 as a result of his religious parents failure to accept his lifestyle. Willie admits that "he possesses the 'stubborn' family gene" and isnít afraid to be confrontational. To prove his point, Willie admits that sometimes he insists that it's "[his] way or the highway!" -- sounds like he'll play great with the rest of the cast, doesn't it?

The Real World was created for MTV by Jon Murray and Mary-Ellis Bunim of Bunim-Murray Productions and Jon Murray serves as the executive producer. Tracy Chaplin is the supervising producer of Real World Philadelphia, and Drew Tappon and Jacquelyn French are executives in charge of production.

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