Originally created 05/12/05

First look: 'Real World' in Austin, Texas

AUSTIN, Texas - It's the same story you've heard before: the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house and have their lives blah blah blah.

Last January, MTV's "The Real World," the granddaddy of all reality TV, galloped into Austin to shoot the 16th season. The Associated Press had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the ominous control room for the strangers' first few hours inside their new home.

"The Real World: Austin" doesn't premiere until June 21, but here's what the producers will let us reveal:

- It's not the biggest house in "Real World" history, but it's close: A swanked out 23,000 square-foot warehouse in downtown Austin. At the height of the dot-com bubble, the digs were partially converted into edgy office space before the project was abandoned.

- There's an eighth roommate: a two-story, 18-foot tall neon cowboy sign named Big Tex inhabits their foyer.

- One of the roomies was a U.S. Army nurse and served in Iraq.

- Talk about postmodernism. The cast's job this season is to make a documentary about bands at the South-by-Southwest Festival.

- Expect lots of fighting and hooking up. In the first episode, two male cast members engage in a street fight against some Austinites while two female roomies share a steamy hot tub smooch. Later, another female "Real World"-er shows her drunken affection for one of her male roommates with a makeout session.

- This year, the cast will vacation in Costa Rica.

- Of course there's the requisite hot tub, but the pimped-out palace, crafted by Austin interior designer Joel Mozersky, also includes an indoor pool smack dab in the middle of the house. But don't expect the seven strangers to dive in: It's so small, some of them mistook it for a fountain on move-in day.

- The roommates will have to become familiar with Dillo trolleys and Metro buses, Austin's two main modes of public transportation. Yep, the "Real World"-ers don't have their own ride this time around. Luckily, they live just blocks away from Austin's bar district, where they'll spend much of their time.

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