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Friday January 28th

Back in the Real World

After 10 weeks on 'Road Rules,' Shane Landrum returns to Chapel Hill

"Oh my God!" freshman Mary Okeiyi screamed out of the window. "I'm sorry, can I get your autograph?"

And as always, Shane Landrum complied.

Every Monday, Okeiyi gathers in front of her television to watch Landrum, a former UNC student, as he completes extreme "missions" on MTV's reality show "Road Rules."

Landrum, the fourth UNC student to participate in the show, was chosen from 30,000 applicants to be one of six people to have their lives taped as they traveled through the country together in a RV.

"It was amazing," Landrum said of his two and a half months on the show, which was taped last semester. "It was just so crazy."

It all started when Landrum's friend asked him to help her make an audition tape for the show. After helping her, he decided to make a tape of his own.

"We went on like a tour of campus, and I drove in my car, and I sang songs -- I mean I was such an idiot," he said.

Two weeks after submitting the tape, Landrum was asked to attend an open casting call in Durham. Five rounds of interviews later, he was picked for the show and had one week to prepare.

"I did the final interview, and then a week later I got a call. They were like "Hey you made 'Road Rules 11;' you're leaving in a week," he said. "And I just left."

Each "Road Rules" season is set in a different part of the world, and for Landrum's show -- "The Campus Crawl" -- the cast drove to different colleges and universities across the United States.

At each stop, they participated in various challenges -- from bungee jumping to posing nude for a painting -- to win prizes.

For a mission at the University of Texas-El Paso, for example, the cast had to participate in the "Cattle Cook-Off," where they prepared and ate cow parts to win mountain bicycles.

"It was gross," Landrum said. "What they don't show you on the show is that the guys basically had three plates a piece of that food. And there's no way our little tiny stomachs, especially after eating nothing, could eat three plates of food, especially of cow brains and cow testicles."

But for Landrum, there was much more to the trip than the missions alone.

Landrum said living in an RV with five strangers and limited money was sometimes trying but a great experience overall.

"We had to pay for everything," he said. "There was one time we were so broke everyone ate potatoes for about four days."

But despite any problems they might have had on the trip, Landrum said he considers his castmates among his closest friends.

"Everyone's really cool," he said. "I can't think of a day that goes by when I don't talk to at least one of them."

Since returning from the show, Landrum has kept busy with MTV appearances. He went to Jamaica this summer to compete in the "Road Rules/Real World Challenge" and recently attended the MTV Video Music Awards in New York.

But Landrum said he has no aspirations of using his "Road Rules" fame to propel an acting career.

"I'm a reality TV star, let's not joke here," he said.

Landrum, who had to withdraw from school during his junior year to participate in the show, plans to re-enroll at UNC after his schedule returns to normal.

But for now, he will spend the upcoming months taping another MTV show and speaking to college groups. And, of course, watching himself on television every Monday.

"I'm embarrassed at least once an episode," he said. "There are just times when I want to go, 'Why did you do that?'"

But despite spending months in an RV eating potatoes and the occasional bull testicle, Landrum says his life is permanently changed for the better because of the show.

"To sum this all up, it gave me a life that I never thought I could have," he said.

"It has nothing to do with fame or people recognizing me. It has to do with the way I feel about myself."

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