Bringing to a close television's most unusual drama, Julie, Becky, Norman, Kevin, Heather, Eric and Andre make their swan song tomorrow on cable's MTV network -- and if you don't know who these young folks are, you're just not tuned into "The Real World."
The seven people age 19 to 25 moved into a Manhattan loft apartment earlier this year to live an unscripted, "reality-based soap opera."
Chosen by MTV from about 500 applicants, these non-performers agreed to live three months of their lives in front of camera crews. Racially and ethnically mixed, they are an aspiring dancer, a male model, a rap singer, a designer, a free-lance writer and poet, a musician and a singer/actress.
The final episode of the 13-part weekly series debuts at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow, preceded by reruns of episodes eight through 12 (beginning at noon), to catch viewers up on all the melodrama. Additional reruns are planned at 7 p.m. tomorrow (episodes 10 through 13) and at 1 p.m. Sunday (episodes five through 13).
MTV says the finale will be the typical slice of life to which viewers have become accustomed, with no epilogue or other attempt to update the lives of the individuals. (See below for some of that information.)
But the principals will be serving as "vee-jays" during the marathon, to talk about their unusual TV lives.
Viewers should know the events of the finale actually occurred back in May, for all 13 episodes were shot before the series premiere May 21.
Among the moments followed in intimate detail during the series:
Andre's band, Reigndance, made a video, Heather was arrested for a disturbance at a party (charges later dismissed), Julie befriended and later lost touch with a homeless girl, the girls won a contest and went to Jamaica, and Kevin argued racial issues with almost everyone else in the apartment.
Producers who were perhaps hoping for a real romance to blossom were disappointed, and casual viewers might have found the show an example of perpetual self-absorption.
Three months later, do any of the seven maintain a roomie relationship?
For a time after the taping period, says MTV's Tina Exarhos, Heather, the rap artist, and Julie, the aspiring dancer, moved into Heather's New Jersey apartment. But Julie has since moved back to Manhattan alone.
Noting the network's large teen-age audience, she says MTV found that many viewers had become habitual "Real World" followers. In fact, discussions have begun on the idea of a second installment, with new people.
"I think it was the closest thing to actually seeing people at that point in their lives," Ms. Exarhos says. "Whether or not they'll move to New York, everybody has an idea about what that stage of their life will be like. It was like playing out their fantasy."
Here is a brief rundown of "The Real World" cast's current lives:
Julie Oliver: Living in New York, looking for a job and a dance scholarship.
Norman Korpi: Still working with his design firm on T-shirts and umbrellas.
Andre Comeau: Moved to New Jersey to share a house with his band, now getting better gigs.
Heather B.: Living in Jersey City, polishing a rap album due out late this month.
Becky Blasband: Living in Northern California, writing songs and planning to head for Los Angeles to look for TV and film work.
Eric Nies: Continuing his modeling career and auditioning for movies and soap operas.
Kevin Powell: Moved back to his Harlem apartment and writing )) album reviews for Rolling Stone, while also seeking acting work.