View Full Version : Reality TV Pioneer Mary-Ellis Bunim Dies

31-01-04, 19:02

By LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES - Producer Mary-Ellis Bunim, who brought television into the age of reality with MTV's "The Real World" and whose latest hit series was "The Simple Life," has died at age 57.

Bunim died Thursday after a long battle with breast cancer, MTV announced Friday.

She and business partner Jonathan Murray, who kicked off the reality trend in 1992 with "The Real World," were among the genre's most prolific producers.

Their series included "Road Rules," "The Love Cruise," "Making the Band," "Starting Over" and, most recently, Fox's "The Simple Life" with party girl and headline-maker Paris Hilton.

Bunim was "an extraordinary talent who pioneered an entire genre of television," Fox's entertainment president, Gail Berman said in a statement Friday.

Bunim, Murray and other producers upended the TV order as reality shows soared in popularity, eventually wresting chunks of broadcast and cable schedules away from traditional scripted series.

While some critics decried the shows as base, sometimes exploitive entertainment, audiences and networks embraced them.

The Bunim-Murray productions targeted a young audience. "The Real World," for instance, threw a mixed group of young adults together as roommates, with an unblinking camera keeping tabs on them.

"Mary-Ellis opened our eyes and our hearts to a whole new way of looking at young adult programming," Judy McGrath, MTV Networks Group president, said in a statement.

The Bunim-Murray magic didn't translate to films, however. Their movie "The Real Cancun" was a critical and box-office dud.

Before she turned to real-life soap opera, Bunim had vast experience in the traditional kind. She was responsible for more than 2,500 hours of daytime TV as executive producer of "Search for Tomorrow," "As the World Turns," "Santa Barbara" and "Loving."

As a New World Entertainment vice president, she developed programming for children as well as for daytime and late-night.

The native of Northampton, Mass., is survived by her daughter, Juliana.

31-01-04, 19:07
Here is a pic of her.

13-02-04, 15:15
I would have liked to see some of her work.

She seems to have been an exceptional lady.