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‘Real World’ Producer Bunim-Murray Says ‘Oui’ to Banijay

Reality factory now part of an international conglomerate

 It took a while, but "Real World" producer Bunim-Murray Productions has finally found itself a new owner.

A year ago, one news outlet flatly reported the company was being bought by Jon De Mol’s Talpa Media. But as TVMoJoe first noted last fall, that deal actually never happened.

After months of buzz, global reality factor Banjay Entertainment today said it has snapped up Bunim-Murray, which also produces Lifetime’s new version of "Project Runway" and the monstrously successful "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" (with Ryan Seacrest Productions).

No word on a dollar figure, but there’s no doubt a big payday for surviving company founder Jon Murray. Still stunned that Murray dropped his long-time agent Mark Itkin a while back, particularly given how key Itkin was in shaping BMP. But that’s showbiz, right?

The release follows:

Banijay Entertainment announced today the acquisition of Bunim-Murray Productions (BMP), one of the leading independent producers in North America. Based in Los Angeles, BMP is widely credited as being one of the pioneers of the reality television genre with its introduction in 1992 of its hit series The Real World.

Bunim-Murray Founder, Jonathan Murray remains Chairman and will continue to foster the company’s creative development. In addition, Bunim-Murray President Gil Goldschein will continue to spearhead corporate initiatives and the tactical growth of the business.

The company will continue to operate with the moniker Bunim-Murray Productions out of its offices in Los Angeles.

The acquisition, which is subject to customary approvals and filings, is expected to be completed in the near future.

“Bunim-Murray is one of the few companies with a proven history of delivering high volumes of entertaining and quality programming that strikes a chord with viewers and are continually renewed by networks season after season,” said Banijay Chairman Stéphane Courbit. “This acquisition reaffirms Banijay’s strategy to integrate in our group the best and most creative international television producers”

Murray commented that “BMP is having one of its best years ever with hits on four different networks. By joining Banijay, BMP will be able to continue its past success as well as access international formats and distribute its series and formats to the international marketplace. I’ve spent the last year and a half getting to know Stéphane Courbit and his Banijay team and am convinced they are not only good people but the best people to help BMP reach its goals.”

Guillaume de Vergès, Banijay Vice-Chairman, said “Banijay is very proud to welcome one of the leading American independent producers.  This is a milestone for our company. Banijay is now established as a world leader in content creation and distribution.”

The acquisition, according to Goldschein, is a “natural extension” of BMP’s direction over the past few years to expand its operation into the international market by retaining the distribution rights of its formats and finished episodes. “Being a part of a group like Banijay will allow us to provide new formats to its affiliated companies in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and other territories and, also give us the opportunity to produce formats from those international companies within the U.S,” said BMP’s Goldschein.

Bunim-Murray Productions, founded more than 20 years ago by the late Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray, is an icon in the reality TV genre both within the US and throughout the world. Having put MTV’s original programming on the map in 1992 with the creation of “The Real World,” Bunim-Murray has shown a consistent ability to deliver programming that not only rates well but stays on the air multiple years. Today, with seven of cable’s top rated adult 18-34 non-scripted programs; Bunim-Murray has delivered some of MTV, Lifetime, E!, and Oxygen’s highest ratings to date with shows such as “The Real World,” “Project Runway,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and “Bad Girls Club.”

Under Banijay International banner, BMP will be bringing several of its projects to MIPTV including Oxygen’s new hit dating series “Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too.”