A few weeks ago, I was able to go the taping of the Real World/Road Rules Cutthroat Challenge Reunion, which wrapped up this season’s edition of The Challenge. The reunion lasted over six hours (and trust me, it felt twice as long), but it was whittled down to one hour of actual footage last night. There was plenty that didn’t make it into the show – including one cast member and lots of bitching about MTV – so I’ll just give you all the gory details.
Before the taping started, the cast was in the back room, watching the last episode for the first time and getting wasted. They all came out, all dressed up, with hair and makeup done- including Camila. However, Camila didn’t go on stage with the rest of the cast, and instead hung out in the back with Derrick‘s wife. I figured they would bring Camilla out separately, for some specific segment. But that’s not what happened. At one point in the taping, towards the end, while the cast was getting readjusted and makeup retouched, my friend daringly asked Emily why Camilla wasn’t on stage with the rest of them. Emily said, diplomatically, “Oh, Camilla wasn’t invited to be on the reunion show, but she came to hang out with us, anyway.”
Rough. Camilla stood – behind the audience- for the entire taping (over six hours!) in heels and a dress.
While mostly everyone (if not everyone) imbibed before the taping, the most noticeable drunk was Paula. She was wasted. Not even in a fun, celebratory way. Other audience members speculated that she had taken a Percocet, as she looked like she was about to throw up more than a few times throughout the taping. I wish, I wish, I wish I had a picture to show you all. Hopefully the cameras caught her facial expressions. She alternated between closing her eyes and shaking her head, rolling her tongue and sticking it out, and lolling her tongue around. Besides looking like she was on the verge of puking, it also looked at some points as though Paula was about to nod off. Even her castmates were making comments about how fucked up she was. She cried many times, and was invariably on the verge of tears every time she spoke. At one point, Paula said of castmate, Tori (who is married to fellow castmate Brad) “Well, Tori’s sucking Brad’s dick…” while describing how it was difficult to have a married couple on the challenge.
Paula kept repeating how she has never yet won a challenge and how she’s a failure, etc. The one person who seemed to have her back was Tyler (residual Key West loyalty?).
A few of the castmates only got a sentence or two in edgewise during the entire taping, such as Jenn and Dunbar. However, drunkenly deluded Paula challenged Dunbar several times, saying, “Did you get paid yet? Did you get the money? Did you get the check in the mail?!”
It was unclear whether Paula was talking about money from being on the Challenge or money from his porno, but either way, no one seemed to know what she was talking about, and Dunbar just shrugged it off.
At one point, Reunion host Maria Menounos confronted Laurel about how she verbally attacked Eric/Big Easy and taunted him for being overweight. Maria truly seemed offended by Laurel’s bullying. Laurel, staying frustratingly calm and unempathetic, just answered that she “made peace” with what happened, and had tried to contact him to apologize to him, to no avail, and was sorry about it but wanted to move on. As Laurel was answering Maria’s question, a couple of the cast members were nudging one another to look at the teleprompter. Luckily, I was able to read it, and saw that Maria was about to announce Big Easy’s arrival. None of the other castmates knew he was there, or that he had even been invited to the reunion. When Maria called him out, Laurel’s face dropped in shock and she turned pale. Big Easy came out greeting everyone, except Laurel. He then denied Laurel’s claims that she tried to contact him, and pointed out the obvious fact that everyone in the cast had his phone number and all she had to do was ask someone for it, and said she only wants to apologize now because she realizes it makes her look bad. I don’t know if Laurel was faking, but she started crying; however, she still maintained that calm, cool, bitchy demeanor even while apologizing.
While the whole Big Easy/Laurel ordeal was happening, Tyler kept trying to bring the attention back to him. His claims went something like, “I’m sorry Big Easy, but at least no one called you a fag! Do you know how many times in my life I’ve been called a fag? And then I came back here, stronger and bigger than everyone here. I know everyone’s going to roll their eyes, but, like, I just feel like that those ‘It Gets Better’ videos help gay teens and I feel like, so do I, because I showed a gay guy can actually be strong…” etc. To which, everyone kept shouting, “Tyler, pipe down, this isn’t about you!” To which he shouted, “I’m insecure, okay?!”
Also during the Big Easy/Laurel ordeal, at one point, Abram got so upset that he walked off. Everyone was shouting, and ordering Big Easy to accept Laurel’s apology, and ordering Laurel to show more compassion, and even the audience was sighing and wishing aloud that the whole thing would end. This debacle took upwards of 45 minutes, so I don’t know how it will be edited to possibly show everything. Abram finally said how disgusted he was to be a part of the show and walked off, but returned a little while later, to snuggle with Cara Maria.
The veteran cast members kept repeating how fucked up the show has gotten. A few recalled a time when they had access to computers, phones, etc., and how much better the Challenge was in the past. Derrick claimed that he was not allowed to contact his wife for months at a time. Tori claimed they were forced to go out, when all they wanted to do was rest, which is why they would go out looking like crap. All of them blamed the producers for how “horribly” they were treated, something that will definitely not be aired and will definitely not bode well for them for future Challenges.
Towards the end, the cast mates and the audience were restless and exhausted. The producers told Maria that they would have to take a few outtakes of her saying things like, “That was awkward. More on that when we return.” The castmates grumbled and groaned, especially Johnny Bananas, who kept moaning, “My baaaaack. I need a chiropractor.” (To be fair, the audience members got to sit in actual chairs, while the castmates had to balance on benches.) Maria seemed to be the only mature one, reminding them that they were almost done taping, and that she was nailing the outtakes on the first try. We audience members couldn’t help rolling our eyes at the castmates, who were getting paid to be there, while we had shown up for free and were still stuck there.
All in all, it was a fun, if tiring, day. The world of D-list celebrities is always an interesting one to take a peek into, and it’s interesting to see what actually made it to air.
(Unnamed photos: top, Brad, Tori, Paula. middle, Laurel. bottom, Abram.)