David Burns in 1998's "Real World: Seattle" and 2005's "Gauntlet 2."
By the time "Real World" hit Seattle in 1998, in-house romances were an expectation of each season. Finding love behind the series' fourth wall, though, wasn't so common, and when David Burns started dating the show's casting director amid filming, it created yet-unheard-of trouble. She got fired, he broke down and "Best Of" reality TV specials would play his emotional call to girlfriend, Kira, for years to come.
The proud Boston native, three-time Challenger and cousin to MTV bad-boy CT has come a long way since growing up in the Charlestown projects, and has worked his way up to a Vice Presidency at the Los Angeles Times. Check out what he told Remote Control below:
How did you end up on "Real World," and what was going on in your life at that time?
From high school through college, I was at military academies, and we weren’t allowed TVs. I knew of "Real World" because it was a cultural place card. As far as being a fan, I really had no f***ing clue, I just knew about Heather B. I thought she was dope on a rope.
I wasn’t old enough to drink, but I was out at the bar. Me and the boys just went up and started talking to girls, and as that happened, I ran into this attractive woman, Kira, who seemed to be directing everyone around me. I basically was spitting rap at her, you know? Twenty minutes into the conversation, she was like, "Can we talk to you?"
Bunim-Murray had to go through, like, two months of trying to get permission from my school to even talk to me about being on the show.
So you made the show, and you actually secretly started dating Kira while you were filming. How did that go down?
Bear in mind, I was coming from an all-male military school--I really didn't have much contact with women. So to have a woman 10 years my senior show affection to me, I absolutely flipped my lid. I just fell madly in love with her. And with good reason--she’s a beautiful, intelligent woman. I’m still friends with Kira; unfortunately, she just happened to be employed by the company that was f***ing filming me.
What was your experience with the cast?
They cast very smart people for Seattle. Northwestern, Michigan, Berkeley--everyone was pretty accomplished. So it was really difficult to get the kids on my cast to do stupid sh**. The next season in Hawaii, they were naked, having fist-fights in the pool and getting alcohol poisoning.
What did you think of Irene, who we talked to last year about leaving Seattle early?
In comparison to what people say, Reenie is not crazy. She’s sharp as a tack. Love that girl.
CT's your cousin--did he consult you when he tried out for "Real World: Paris"?
It was a "his mother called my mother" kind of thing. I wasn’t living in Boston then, but the neighborhood that we grew up in--Charlestown, The Bunker Hill projects--isn't one of those places you want to stick around. We got reunited when he said he was doing the show. We started talking a lot and we traveled a lot together after that.
What was your path to the LA Times?
When I got off the show, it was just before the tech bubble, so I started doing the marketing and sales for a firewall company in Paris. I came back to the United States, did a "Challenge," and basically one of the producers from our show took me under his wing and taught me the activation game. I got into the event activation business and even selling sponsorship into MTV shows.
When my deferment [to Georgetown Law School] was up, I was looking to go, but at that point, I’m making $250,000 a year at 21. I’m thinking, "Why the f*** am I gonna go to school?" So that kind of led to my route to working in media. Now I oversee the advertising and business development for live entertainment and events at the Times.
What’s it like being an East Coast guy going to the West Coast?
You can f***ing crush it. I hate to make generalizations like that, but I haven’t met an East Coast guy or a Midwest guy who has strong work ethics and determination not make it in L.A. If you don’t make it in L.A, you’re a f***ing idiot.
Any final thoughts on the whole "Real World" experience?
What "Real World" afforded me to do over a four to five year period ensured that I will never have a midlife crisis. You will never see David with an overpriced red sports car. With all of the social activities I missed at an all-male school, I made up for it exponentially after. I’m so happy that I did the show--I had a great time, made a lot of good friendships. It actually taught me a lot about the world. Looking back, it was f***ing great.
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