(Chairman and CEO)
Bunim/Murray Productions is an entertainment production company based out of Glendale, California, and is considered a pioneer in the reality television genre. It is best known for The Real World, Road Rules, Bad Girls Club, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray co-founded Bunim/Murray after agent Mark Itkin of the William Morris Agency put the two together to develop a scripted soap opera for MTV. When that was too expensive, they decided to try an unscripted soap and The Real World was born. "We knew within 20 minutes of shooting that we had a show," Bunim said. The company has expanded into music management, managing the pop punk/emo band A Cursive Memory. In March 2010, the company was acquired by Banijay Entertainment (former name of Banijay Group).
In October 2011, two years after Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins aired, contestant Tonya Cooley filed a lawsuit against fellow contestants Kenny Santucci and Evan Starkman, MTV, and Bunim/Murray Productions, claiming that she was sexually assaulted during filming. Cooley claimed in the lawsuit that Santucci and Starkman inserted a toothbrush into her vaginal canal while she was passed out from heavy drinking, and stated that she was subjected to an environment in which degrading and harassing behavior was directed at female contestants, including bathing suits stripped off their bodies. A representative for Bunim/Murray said that "after a thorough investigation, we have found Tonya Cooley's claims to be completely baseless." Cooley also alleged that the show's producers encouraged and rewarded such behavior, and that when she raised concerns she was told to "just deal with it." A representative for Viacom blamed Cooley for the alleged assault against her, stating in court that "in addition to failing to avail herself of VMN's policies and complaint procedures, Plaintiff failed to avoid the injuries of which she complains. For example, while she was a contestant on The Ruins, Plaintiff was frequently intoxicated (to an extent far greater than other contestants), rowdy, combative, flirtatious and on multiple occasions intentionally exposed her bare breasts and genitalia to other contestants." The lawsuit was settled out of court one year later.