MTV’s venerable unscripted format is heading deep into the heart of Texas – where, rumor has it, the stars at night are big and bright – for its 16th season. Production on “Real World XVI” will begin in Austin in the first quarter of 2005.

“They say everything is bigger and better in Texas, and “The Real World’ is no exception,” says Jon Murray, the show’s co-creator and president of Bunim-Murray Productions. “Our Austin cast may be the best we’ve ever assembled, and I know they’re going to feel right at home in this vibrant city.”

Given the number of problems MTV had while filming “Real World XV” in Philadelphia, the Austin civic leaders seem happy that the rowdiness is coming to their hometown.

“MTV has discovered what we all know, that Austin is a great place to live, work and play,” says Will Wynn, Austin’s mayor. “We have a spectacular quality of life, particularly if you’re young, energetic, educated, driven, and have a passion for the outdoors and live music. I’m excited about the opportunity to showcase our city to viewers around the world.”

The Austin season is currently scheduled to premiere its 24-episode run in June, 2005.



“LISTEN UP’ STARS ANSWER PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Every week, more than 10.2 million people choose to tune in to the CBS comedy “Listen Up.” In January, to return the favor, that show’s stars, Jason Alexander and Malcolm-Jamal Warner will return the favor by hosting the People’s Choice Awards.

Airing live (if you don’t live on the West Coast) on Jan. 9 from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, the 31st Annual People’s Choice Awards can be seen on CBS.

The show, which lets fans select their favorites from the world of film, television and music, will also feature appearances by Ellen DeGeneres, Poppy Montgomery, Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Josh Duhamel and Jeff Foxworthy with future performers still to be announced.

Fans can still vote online for the winners in two categories – favorite new TV drama and favorite new TV comedy – which will be announced during the show’s live broadcast.

Interestingly, “Listen Up” isn’t nominated in the new comedy catetory, though the already canceled “Father of the Pride” and ratings starved “Complete Savages” are (NBC’s “Joey” is the third and highest rated nominee). In the drama category, CBS’ “CSI: NY” will face off against two Golden Globe nominated ABC shows in “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” (a comedy in the Globes’ estimation).



“DIRTY WAR’ HITS HBO IN JANUARY

London will be hit with a radiological “dirty bomb” on Jan. 24, when HBO premieres the docu-drama “Dirty War.”

The film, a BBC production, focuses on the experiences of a fireman, two anti-terrorist squad police officers and a group of international terrorists in the days leading up to and the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack on central London.

Writer-director Daniel Percival based the project on extensive research in the United Kingdom’s official emergency plans to prevent or deal with such an attack.

“While the film presents a scenario of a terrorist attack on London that could potentially happen, the focus of this film is the reaction to it – particularly by the emergency services and government agencies – and the characters caught up in the unfolding drama,” says Percival. “‘Dirty War’ blends drama and documentary techniques to offer a very human and realistic insight into a fictional scenario. Had it been made as a straight-up documentary, it would have limited the extent to which we could take the viewer inside an experience of this magnitude.”

Although HBO certainly isn’t crediting the inspiration, “Dirty War” sounds extremely similar to Peter Watkins’ controversial 1965 BBC production, “The War Game.” That 48-minute docu-drama speculated on England’s reaction in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear attack. Due to its pessimistic outlook on the survivability of such attacks and some graphic depictions, the film was banned from U.K. television. Instead, it played film festivals and won the 1967 Oscar for documentary feature, an interesting achievement given the film’s staged status.


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