PORTLAND – Tayler Emerson is hoping “The Real World” can provide a refuge from the real world for a while.

Emerson, 19, said he went to college for a year, then dropped out and got a job as a bank teller.

But he senses he’s not ready to be an adult yet, so when casting directors from MTV’s long-running mismatched-roommates series came calling Saturday, he drove down from Newport for an interview.

“The show’s all about finding yourself,” said Emerson, who admitted that he’s not a regular watcher of the series. “I’d like to be 19 for a while.”

The directors set up shop in the basement of Binga’s Stadium on Free Street, drawing scores of Mainers who tried to convince two casting officials that they have what it takes to be one of seven or eight roommates for the 25th season of the show.

“The point is to have people from different walks of life,” said Jessica Thompson, one of the casting directors in Portland for the weekend. “We’re looking for someone to keep you engaged for four or five months, which I think is a hard thing to do.”

Emerson’s friend Sarah Shepherd, 21, also of Newport, put it more succinctly.

“They throw people in a house to get drama,” she said. “I’m willing.”

Thompson said she and the other casting director interviewed applicants six or seven at a time, giving those in each group 10 to 15 minutes apiece to talk about themselves and maybe a cause they were interested in or an unusual issue they’ve had to deal with.

She said it’s impossible to predict what will or won’t spark an interest, but those who make the cut were to get a call later in the day and be invited back for a more in-depth interview today.

Thompson and the other casting directors — there are eight to 10, she said, covering about 40 cities in all — will then meet to go over what they’ve found.

Those with a shot at getting on the show can expect two or three subsequent interviews after the first round as the narrowing process continues, she said.

Maine might seem an odd place to hold auditions for the show, since each season’s cast is usually characterized by volatile, glib personalities rather than the stereotypical taciturn Mainer. Thompson said the show’s producers cast a wide net and try to get housemates from new places for each season to keep things fresh.

She said there’s no guarantee anyone from Maine will end up on the show.

Ha Kim, 23, of Portland seemed to demonstrate some of the zest that the producers are likely to be looking to put on the show.

Kim said she comes from a “typical Asian family” and thinks being on the show would give her some breathing space.

“I’m looking for a good opportunity to grow apart from them without hurting their feelings,” she said.

Kim said she grew up watching “The Real World,” so she has an idea of what to expect if she’s cast. But she also worries that editing out snippets for airing could give people the wrong impression of who she is.

Bunim/Murray Productions, which produces the show, hasn’t said where next season’s show will be shot. Recent locales have been Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, although several of those waiting in line for interviews Saturday said they hoped having casting directors in Portland might mean the producers will move the setting north.

Suggestions included “The Real World: Biddeford” and “The Real World: Buxton.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]


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