She told me that Pedro Zamora had died the day before.
For those of you who remember The Real World San Francisco, 1994, you will remember Pedro. You either remember him as the brave HIV-Positive, Cuban American who moved into a crazy house with 6 other people (not counting all the camera men, producers, directors and PAs) despite the fact that he knew it would do wacky things to his T-cell count or you remember him as the guy who went up against Puck and won.
Either way - there is no way to not remember Pedro if you saw that series. We made sure of it by showing him at his best and at his worst.
I say "we" because I worked at MTV at the time. Specifically, I worked in the development office for the Executive in Charge of Production for the show which meant that I got to see the scripts, the tapes and the final edits for every show and help my boss give notes to the very talented team at Bunim-Murray Productions.
Now, more than 15 years after the show aired Bunim-Murray Productions and MTV have come together to create a movie about Pedro and his life before, during and after The Real World, San Francisco. The movie is simply called "Pedro" and, if the trailer is just a taste, it looks as though the movie will be a good view into a complicated, but beautiful, life.
I only met Pedro twice so I got to know him the same way the world did - through the shows. Granted, I got to see a bit more of the tape than most people but not as much as some. (If you liked your wrists - a job as a tape logger on a Bunim-Murray production was probably not your best option, but you got to see A LOT of tape.) However, that just meant that when I actually got to meet Pedro and his cast mates at the cast party I had a good idea of what had happened for the previous four months. (Ironically, I met Puck first and not at the house. He actually came to our offices after he left the house. For all his faults, he was actually a nice guy to me - but I can see why Puck and Pedro just did not mix well.)
The second time I met Pedro was at a pool party held at John Murray's house. Pedro, Sean, Judd and a few other cast mates were there. It was a great party and a lot of fun for everyone. Unfortunately, soon after that party Pedro started getting ill and by November he was gone.
I had left Hollywood in September of 1994 so I did not hear the chatter about Pedro's failing health. I knew he was sick, but I didn't know he was dying. It caught me by surprise and I think my friend who broke the news felt badly about that, but I thank her for it. After I hung up with her I immediately called the Bunim-Murray office and spoke with some of the friends I had there. If I could have, I would have flown to Miami for the funeral the next day, but I was broke and $900 for a plane ticket was just not within reach.
So, why the long tribute to a man who died almost 15 years ago? The movie, it seems, airs tonight on MTV. Just as Pedro's death surprised me, the movie showing his life popped up and surprised me with its existence. Anyone who remembers Pedro (or Puck, or Corey or Mo or Pam or Judd or Rachel or Jo) may want to check it out.
However, this being MTV - I am sure this will not be the only chance you get to see the movie. They will probably play it over and over and over. Not a bad thing - just their style.