For roughly what future Real World cast members would receive for participating in their season’s reunion alone (and a far cry from the hundreds of thousands some reality stars reportedly pull), the cast of MTV’s Real World New York was paid for their entire time on the show that changed television as we know it. In the first episode of the talking-head doc series For Real: The Story of Reality TV, which E! teased Wednesday night (with the full series to follow in March), four members of the original Real World cast reunited and revealed the pittance they were paid—$2,600 in total. They lived together in front of cameras for three months in the winter/spring of 1992.
It’s probably safe to assume that the original ensemble was paid far more for the six-episode reunion series that will premiere on the Paramount+ streamer (rebranded from CBS All Access) when the platform debuts on March 4. The partial reunion that E! aired Wednesday was apparently filmed before the new series—Julie Gentry, Heather B. Gardner, Norman Korpi, and Eric Nies said that they hadn’t been in the same room for some 20 years prior to getting together in front of E!’s cameras for a discussion moderated via satellite by Andy Cohen (who cried after seeing them all reunited).
The conversation comprised only a fraction of the For Real episode, which was teeming with anecdotes and recollections about other pioneering reality TV like Survivor, Big Brother, and Kid Nation. However, during the brief Real World reunion segments, Nies discussed his current work in guiding psilocybin trips and Korpi talked about what it was like to come out on television in the early ‘90s. His sexuality was covered somewhat strangely by the show—it was his castmates who discussed it in explicit terms in the episodes and he was labeled bisexual, which he said drew ire from the gay community at the time.
For Real was sort of a grab bag of fun facts and familiar faces. One Real Housewives director of photography stated that production’s mantra is: “Produce the situation and not the people.” Bobby Trendy, the antagonist of The Anna Nicole Show, appeared briefly, seeming not to have aged a day.
Tami Roman, a reality TV lifer who appeared on the second season of The Real World and then years later on VH1's Basketball Wives, talked about her decision to share the story of her abortion on the show, despite production’s reluctance. Roman’s procedure was complicated by her being pregnant with twins at the time. (In the book The Real World Diaries, published by MTV Books in 1996, Roman revealed: “I had complications with the abortion. I had to go back and have the whole procedure done over again, and that was not an easy thing to do.”)
Regarding the complications resulting from being pregnant with twins not making it to air, Roman said on For Real: “That particular aspect was far too deep.”