HGTV's 'Selling New York': Stiff Cast and Stiff Prices

new york skylineThe real estate slump is over if you're a broker or a buyer on HGTVs new show "Selling New York." We watched last night and witnessed the stereotypes. It was a downtown Manhattan vs. uptown Manhattan property face-off.

CORE group duo, the "downtown boys": John Gomes (below) and Shaun Osher were the requisite reality-show fashionista and foreigner-with-a-great-accent. Uptown was the two-generation Kleier power family (below) of Gumley Haft and Kleier; parents Michele and Ian and daughters Sabrina and Samantha. Apparently the women all share the same hairdresser with Patti Stanger-esque blowouts and the poor patriarch seems like he scores the victim card.

This new series' debut episode is about the uptown and downtown brokers and the open house parties they force their assistants to throw on short notice.
John and Shaun (they rhyme!) assault us immediately with a penthouse in the Bowery area of downtown Manhattan. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit at Robert Scarano's 52 E. 4th Street has long been criticized in real estate blogs as an eyesore, but tonight it's a star.

"Jaun," if you will, are way-psyched about how gentrified the Bowery is getting. John is almost too-psyched about the John Varvatos store replacing the famed CBGB. These days the boulevard is littered with luxury buildings, posh restaurants and chic boutique hotels. A striking contrast from what was there previously: junkies, heroin needles and flop houses. HGTV chose to feature a $2.3 million unit boasting 1,359 square feet. Regardless, of what we think of the building's exterior, "Jaun" say it's a hot building with great views. Plus, HGTV has a good-looking rich couple eager to check things out.

Meanwhile uptown we find the famed Park Avenue penthouses and Central-Park-West spreads fit for an Astor, Rockefeller or until recently: The Grants who currently have a pre-war Park Avenue pad in the Carnegie Hill area. Sadly, and now publicly for the HGTV viewership to know, the Grants are getting divorced and ka-ching! That's Michele and Ian's cue to move in for the kill, err sell.

We fast forward to the challenge. "Jaun" have an open-house party to throw that someone awfully dubs "Puff Daddyish." (It's Diddy, these days, people.) There's a rooftop pool that's empty and someone's gotta get that thing filled!

Meanwhile at the Park Ave bat cave there's a non-Kleier broker named Laurel who has some orders barked at her with -- if it weren't for HGTV -- probably semi-impossible deadlines.

The good-looking couple (Andrew Anderson and Christie Morrongiello) looking at the Bowery property happen to work for Prudential Douglas Elliman. They're engaged and pretend they don't know so much about real estate. Apparently they've budgeted near the $2.3 million asking price. Christie loves it. It's "so her" says her fiancée. But it's a bit pricey to Andrew who meanwhile cuts a nice silhouette in his chic suits. The space is pretty fabulous. We like the wallpaper in the master bedroom. But they're not asking us. Christie loves the double sink in the bathroom with a voyeuristic view from the shower of the Empire State Building.

We watch the golden couple sort of scriptedly vacillate on what to do. John offers fun facts like that a Polish prince already lives there and the fact that he just showed a Duke of Scotland the Bowery property. A Duke on the Bowery! (Our grandparents would never believe it possible on that street.) John pauses before name dropping one last boldface name. John Legend lives in the building, too! Legends and royalty he gets to joke.

Snap! Christie wants it. She can't -- scripted -- contain her self. Andrew's still -- scripted -- talking about the price. John realizes Christie gets what she wants and focuses his sales charm on her. He not-so-slyly invites her to the Fashion Week Ports 1961 show. He happens to have two tickets! Christie swoons. Sold thrice over!

One demographic nearly sold and another to oil. But how does one top a show during New York fashion week? And that "Puff Daddyish" party? The Kleiers try. Momma Kleier is busy staging the property. She doesn't like matchy-matchy things. She teaches us to never photograph the backs of chairs even when there is beautiful upholstery stretched across it. She's running her poor husband and some older photographer guy crazy. This is her moment!

With eight minutes left on the clock we're rushed now to the fashion week tents. John was good on his word. He has the seats and he knows someone at Ports 1961. John tells us this is what he calls "relationship building." The relationship building is strategic. It's sans the fiancée. Christie's in heaven with her new best friend who seems to be channeling another reality star: Robert Verdi.

Back uptown broker Laurel is showing a property on Park Avenue that faces Central Park The three bedroom, three bathroom is just $5 million bones and has 2,500 square feet. The potential buyer is a suburban retiree named Susie Miller who is looking to move back into the city for some excitement with her husband. The place is austere but if we could afford it, we'd take it. It's too austere for the suburban retiree. She envisions a new, sleek property with modern finishes (or so she thinks). This place has espresso floors, gorgeous dark wood cabinets. We'll take it! Well, until we saw the unfortunate view of the sunbathers in banana hammocks on a nearby roof.

Alas, this isn't for Susie Miller. No sale here for the Kleiers. Onward and upwards. There is still that divorced property and probably some deaths and victims of Ponzi scheme with homes for the Kleiers to stage.

Now we're down to the wire. Back at the Bowery, the pool is still freaking empty! Can't anyone complete a simple task?

There's a parallel water problem storyline uptown at the Kleiers' open house. The two testy Kleier sisters are asking where the H-E-double-hockey-sticks all the bottled water is! Well, at least the sushi is there. You can't have an open house without sushi! Somehow it all comes together and the next thing we know champagne glasses are clinking and all is good. Just in time for the first open house visitor. Laurel pulled it all off in 4 days! She gets to keep her job!

The Kleier party is fancy and the anti-austere-living retiree shows. She's thrilled with this property. She doesn't want a new place! The three bedroom, four bathroom $4.65 million home is perfect! Susie Miller is beside herself. One bedroom is so big it used to be two maid's rooms! Those high ceilings! The wood floors! The tiled floors! Team Kleier tosses out suggestions like "blowing out the bathroom like everyone does." Susie Miller feels this property but first she has to check with her husband back in the 'burbs.

At last we're at the Puff Daddyish party! There is water in the pool! Everyone is glamorous and drinking. Christie and Andrew have good news! No, they're not pregnant! They want the $2.3 million pad. Sold! John smiles a winning commission smile. Those fashion week seats paid off. Excellent relationship building, John! Now Christine and Andrew can plan their wedding in a spin-off series with a celebrity wedding planner.
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