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A brush with reality

OK, this is totally off-topic, but…

I have had a brush with reality television. Sometime later this year I will be on the Home & Garden reality TV program Curb Appeal. The show is one of those re-do shows, but it focuses on improving the look of the front of your house.

I live in the Woodley Park neighborhood of northwest Washington, D.C., located just off Rock Creek Park not far from the National Zoo and the Washington Cathedral. It's a great neighborhood. In fact, it is where I moved when I first moved to Washington about 15 years ago.

I have a row house, so there isn't a whole lot of front yard. And, to be honest, it wasn't all that horrible. Each season, the Curb Appeal folks do something they call 'good to great,' and our house fell in that category.

My general take from reality television is that nothing is real. Just don't believe things you see.

The program makes it seem like work is done over three days. In the real reality, our work took six to eight weeks.

The "host" of the show, Dan Schachner, is only there for one day of that. They interview you throughout the process, but Dan comes in for one day and you have to change into the clothes you wore on those various days to make it seem like he was there the entire time.

These shows are also a great deal for the network because they don't actually have to pay for… well, anything. They do help facilitate the process and the contractors are more responsive because they want to get the free publicity of being on television and you get discounts on some of the hardware used in the work, but the producers essentially get to film the work you would have done anyway.

That being said, it is really nice to have a club to use with the contractors. They have to get the project done. So that is worth a whole bunch.

I also have renewed appreciation for the fear that people have when they talk to us. The fear, of course, is that you are trusting somebody else to… well, not mess it up… to get it right… to not make you feel like an idiot… or worse. Well, I am now sitting in that same position. And, in fact, I have joked that this program could, in fact, end my career. Why? Well, let me give you an example.

Our original front yard had a serpentine walkway that led to stairs. Unfortunately, Washington recently had to have many of the water pipes replaced because they were carrying lead. That included some remediation work on the front of the house, which caused the bricks on the front stairs to pull away from the front of the house ever so slightly. In our first interview with the producer of the show, I said that we had to follow the red brick road to the stairs that were pulling away from the front of the house.

Later on, when the hose was in town, they had us act as if we were crossed the street to find the brick gone. (Mind you – in fact, the brick had been removed weeks before.) The producer asked me, as I'm pretending to first see the removed brick, to literally break out into song, "Ding dong, the brick is gone." (Can you hear The Wizard of Oz in your mind?)

Unfortunately, the most shocking part of this isn't the request. The most shocking thing is that I agreed to it!

So, we'll see how it all turns out.

I know I'm going to get all sorts of e-mail saying, "When is it on?" I don't know. They only let us know two-weeks before it airs, and I still haven't decided if I'm going to let people know… for obvious reasons.

As they say, stay tuned.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Mar 31, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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