It’s official: Downtown gets ‘Real’

The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s official: MTV’s “The Real World” reality show is coming to the Bell Tel lofts building on Willoughby Street in Downtown, and residents can’t wait to show producers the “real” real world.

The Brooklyn Paper reported two weeks ago that the music network was considering the newly renovated former telephone company headquarters for the 21st season of its long-running series.

On Monday, MTV announced that it had finally inked the deal.

“‘The Real World’ is confirmed,” said the building’s spokeswoman, Alyssa Miller. “Bell Tel was selected for [its] landmark quality, awesome views … very high ceiling heights [and] gentrifying neighborho­od.”

One of the first Bell Tel tenants and the creator of the BellTelLofts blog, Michael Lepore, said the show’s arrival would “bring a lot of attention to a neighborhood that definitely gets overlooked a lot.

“I really only see positive angles on it,” he added.

Fellow resident Jody Arenella, who moved into the building in October with her husband and two teenagers, said she’s looking forward to what the show will do for her neighborhood.

“It’s going to be a good thing,” she said. “We knew eventually [the Downtown construction boom] is going to bring a lot of services, but we thought it would take a while. But with this MTV thing, it might happen a little quicker.”

Some residents worry that the cast could disrupt their million-dollar quiet, but Lepore brushed it off.

“MTV’s been doing this long enough, they know what they’re doing now,” he said.

The cast and crew will be tucked away in two penthouses on the 26th and 27th floors, while most current residents in the 230-unit building live below the 15th floor.

The show will begin taping in August, pending completion of renovations of the $6-million duplex penthouse apartments, which are accessed by a separate elevator.

Before MTV begins filming, the crew will meet with neighbors to address any concerns, said executive producer Jim Johnston.

“Our approach is very low-key,” he said. “It is a documentary, so the goal is always to be as low-impact and anonymous as possible. Once we begin, people see that it’s not that big of a deal. And, in four months, it’s over.”

Lifelong Downtown residents say they are most excited about “The Real World” cast experiencing the diversity of Brooklyn in their developing neighborhood.

“I want them to see my ‘real world,’” said Ka-Desha Bremby, 30, who works at a pet supply shop on Willoughby Street.

But a graduating Brooklyn Law School student, Raven Dorantes, 28, said the announcement marks more of a sign of the times and feared the worst.

“With a million eyes on this area, it’s just going to get a lot like Williamsburg-ish, or maybe worse,” Dorantes said.

Updated 5:06 pm, July 9, 2018
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