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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Nate Berkus' big move
by Jerry Nunn
2010-09-22

This article shared 6655 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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Interior designer Nate Berkus is leaving Oprah behind and starting his own show in The Big Apple: New York City. Windy City Times spoke to him before his series debut about his new endeavor and reminded the decorator to not forget his roots.

Windy City Times: Hello, Nate. I was wondering with Oprah leaving Chicago, why did you decide to film the show in New York and not in the Windy City?

Nate Berkus: The truth is it just made sense business-wise for me right now. From the studio space to where my staff and where all the resumes were coming in from, the staff that I needed to hire were all in New York.

And ultimately, Jerry, you know, Oprah is in her 25th year and I'm launching a daily syndicated show. Oprah has one control room over there on Carpenter Street so I didn't want to be the guy that said, "Yeah, just give me another 10 minutes. I'll be out of here for you."

WCT: You are the latest friend of Oprah to get your own show.

Nate Berkus: Well, for me, what happens is when things happen organically. And my participation as a contributor to The Oprah Show happened because I met a producer by chance at an art gallery and we started talking, which led to me doing a makeover. It resonated for Oprah, the audience and me.

So I was not in a rush to do this. I wanted to do this really in a way that felt like the right way for me because I was very happy with my role on the Oprah show. And I think that the timing is great right now because there's always been so much interest in people's homes and always been so much interest in living well but I've had years to prepare for this.

WCT: What have you had to get used to having your own show?

Nate Berkus: There's a different mindset in going from a gracious guest to the host of a show. One of the most important elements of that is that it's my responsibility to make my guests and my audience comfortable.

WCT: Can you tell our readers what are some guests that you have had so far?

Nate Berkus: Absolutely. Dolly Parton is going to be a part of the show on Tuesday, Sept. 14. Then Friday the 17th, which happens to be my 39th birthday, Elizabeth Edwards and I are together on the show.

WCT: Happy early birthday! I will go ahead and assume that you have the best-looking set on television.

Nate Berkus: The set was designed by me, but I collaborated with a set designer named Jeff Hall who's done lots of different TV shows. We had a deal that he would do everything that made it function, then we would sit down together and I would be able to do my thing, pick every finish, all the furniture and all the [ implementing of fixtures ] .

I wanted the set to feel like somebody was walking into my home every day, so it's very fresh. It's not like a fake home set with a staircase that leads to nowhere and books no one's read. It's a mix of vintage and new things. It's going to change up periodically as I become interested in different things that are happening the world of design. But it's definitely different than anything that's out there.

WCT: How is the show set up?

Nate Berkus: Well, first of all, what we're doing is we're letting the stories of the people that we find lead us to different contributors on the show and expanding out different segments. So ultimately the show is really about living well, and that involves a great deal of design, of which there's several signature segments. My instant design studio, which has become a part of the show, is accomplished with 3-D gaming technology that allows me to basically have that decorator moment.

WCT: Sounds very high-tech.

Nate Berkus: We have a segment called "Nate's Crate," where we have this crate that can end up anywhere at any time with anything in it. For example, it might end up on the doorstep of three different viewers in three different cities across the country and contain materials inside that create a challenge for them. Or it could contain that one thing that's going to change that person's story and be the catalyst to help that person move forward. So you can only imagine how much fun and how creative we can get with that.

WCT: Yes, it does sound fun.

Nate Berkus: We also have something called "Curbside Pickup," which I love, where whenever I am at the shoot or I see something on the side of the road, I send my friend Katie Lee, the chef, out to New Jersey to work with the garbagemen to bring back vintage finds and antiques that people throw away. We recondition them and, at the end of the year, we're going to use them in different makeovers throughout the season. [ Also, ] at the end of the year we're going to produce a catalog with an auction and donate the proceeds to charity.

WCT: Are you able to be open about your sexuality on the show?

Nate Berkus: I've never played anybody but myself on TV and it's not my intention to try to do that now. You'll see more of me actually than anyone ever has. So my day to day will definitely be a part of that show.

WCT: It's important for people all over the world to see that.

Nate Berkus: Well, it's important for me as a person to put my best foot forward and lead by example. I don't define myself by only being gay just like I don't define myself by only being Jewish or only being anything. All of us have a lot of different facets to one another. I think having my own show is an enormous responsibility for several reasons, one of which is to lead by example.

WCT: Well, don't forget about all your fans in Chicago while you are in New York City.

Nate Berkus: You know what? It's important I think because Chicago's been such a wonderful city to me and helped me so much business-wise. My businesses are still based in Chicago, and will remain so.

The Nate Berkus Show is on weekdays. Check out www.thenateshow.com for information and listings.


This article shared 6655 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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