Housewives and Pedro

Housewives and Pedro

Andy Cohen remembers The Real World's Pedro as MTV releases a new film based on his life.

Jeez, we first saw last night's episode months ago, and I've waited patiently for it to air because to just break it down and dish. There are so many issues to discuss:

Kelly vs. Bethenny
Ramona's offense at Kelly
Mario vs. Jill
The V-Ks vs. Ramona

All I know is that they just all offend each other in circles and here's what: I. Love. It. I made my Mom watch it; she is not on-board the Housewives franchise, but will watch reunion shows to humor me and comment on my hair. So Evelyn emailed "We watched it. Those people are sick. Your father didn't like it. I find it amusing. I don't know such mean people, I don't think. That Kelly is the biggest bitch of all."

OK. So that's her opinion. What's yours?

I spent yesterday in a hotel conference room with the Top Chef producers interviewing some of the best chefs in the country, all saying they'll win next season of the show. This amounted to a parade of lesbians, ego, tattoos, talk of obscure spices, ambition, food snobbery, and more lesbians and tattoos. You know what's going to be AMAZING? Next season of Top Chef.

Tonight, MTV is airing a made for TV movie about the life of Pedro Zamora, the HIV Positive Real World star who, in the early 90's, enlightened millions of kids (me included) about AIDS, before ultimately succumbing to the disease. This story means a lot to me, though I don't understand why they didn't make a documentary instead of a (I hope not cheesy) movie. 

I remember (in 1992ish?) my boss at CBS This Morning, Jay Kernis, handing me an article from the Wall Street Journal profiling this kid with HIV named Pedro who was going around educating kids in Miami about his disease. Jay wanted me to book Pedro on the show, and I did. It was Pedro's first national TV interview and he moved me to tears with his honesty and bravery. He wore his heart on his sleeve, but he was strong. About a year later he was on what I think was the third season of The Real World; it was my favorite season of that show to date, mainly because of Pedro and the impact he had on me and kids everywhere. It was steeped in drama — with Puck hating on Pedro and the roommates in turn hating on Puck, and Republican Rachel and Crying Cori and Pedro's "wedding," and Puck getting kicked out. It was BIG and jacuzzi-free. Those were the days.

Several years after his Real World season, I booked Pedro back on the morning show for an update and a victory lap celebrating his accomplishments. He didn't seem himself when we spoke on the phone and the MTV publicist told me she was worried for his health. He called me the day before the interview saying he needed to see me, that he needed cash. He came by CBS in what I later realized was a delusional state; he was very sick. I think I got him some money, and I never saw him again. The next morning he was too sick to come on the show and he passed away a few weeks later.

He was an incredible role model, and used himself as an educational tool about a subject foreign to most. Who had ever before seen someone with AIDS on TV? Pedro stood alone in an era where there were few so brave — and so young — to stand up and represent the face of the disease that was KILLING people of all generations. Remember, they were DYING then, not being kept alive with the benefit of what we know now. 

For a brief moment, Pedro shone brightly as a courageous example of what the disease looked like, and how it could happen to anyone, at any age.

So today I'm thinking about Pedro again. He did not die in vain.

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