Jonathan Murray, Class of 1973, Inducted in 2004
The second act of Jonathan Murray’s television career began the day his agent introduced him to Mary-Ellis Bunim, a successful executive producer of soap operas. Bunim and Murray collaborated on a number of television projects until the day in 1991 when they pitched an interesting new idea to MTV executives over breakfast. By lunch time, MTV had bought the show, and the landmark success of Bunim-Murray Productions was underway.
This show, The Real World, has become a part of the cultural DNA of young people the world over during its 14 seasons (and counting). The two collaborated as they grew their production operation from a two person shop to an industry powerhouse, widely credited with creating the ultra-popular reality television genre.
Over the years, the partners created and executive produced an incredible array of programming including The Real World, Road Rules, Real World/Road Rules Challenge, The Simple Life, Starting Over, Making the Band, and Love Cruise to name a few. Bunim lost a hard-fought battle with cancer in early in 2004, and Murray continues to lead the company they founded together.
After graduating from University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jonathan began his career in local television news and programming. He worked with the television rep firm HRP, Inc., where he helped local stations buy and schedule their syndicated programming.
These career stepping stones took him to cities as diverse as Green Bay, Rochester, Cleveland and New York. “I ended up moving to the west coat because I had sold a television pilot,” Jonathan said. He says he had no trouble making the transition to California. “I have always found it easy to make any place home. It’s just a matter of finding a part of the city that feels right and getting out there and making new friends.”
But like many people, the road to success was not without a few bumps.
“I have always been an optimist,” he said. “While I was naive about how long it would take to get a show on the air, I never considered the possibility of failure. I guess I have my parents to thank for instilling me with confidence.”
Jonathan found inspiration at F-M in his 12th grade political science class where he and his classmates were encouraged to get involved in the McGovern/Nixon campaign. “All of this just reinforced my fascination with politics, power and social dynamics,” he explained.
As for today’s students, he recommends, “Get a well-rounded education. When I am looking to hire someone, I am looking for someone who has more than just a set of skills. I am looking for someone who can analyze a problem and make reasoned decisions. I am also looking for someone who has a curiosity about life, and an enthusiasm for whatever task they are assigned.”
Jonathan’s parents still live in Fayetteville, but love visiting California, especially in the cold winter months. He and his partner live in the hills above Hollywood with their 5-year old son, but escape often to Lake Arrowhead for relaxing weekends. Jonathan also enjoys studying architecture, historic preservation and politics.