Deserves kudos for: Taking high-end home decor from Tinseltown to Target. Famous for gigs on MTV, HGTV and NBC's Today Show, Oldham is now shepherding a dozen interior designers, artists and architects through Bravo's Top Design, a reality competition that forces contestants to flex their feng shui.
Top Design is obviously cast in the mold of Project Runway. What's more challenging: interior design or haute couture?
"I think they both have demanding aspects to them. But just the sheer volume of details and things to do within a home, it far outweighs anything it takes to do an ensemble. Runway's pretty much a singular effort--they're focusing on their work. We supply the contestants with some help along the way, because these are really big projects. I would say it's 50 times more work than an ensemble."
You're listed as the host but also offer advice to the designers. Are you more Tim Gunn than Heidi Klum?
"Our version of the show is unlike any of the other footprints because I'm not involved in the judging. I'm technically the mentor and the host. I'm a big fan of Tim Gunn, and I like his diplomacy. I guess maybe people think of me as diplomatic."
How did you first get involved with the show?
"Well, mine is actually part of some community service I'm working off. But Bravo did give me a ring and I'm a fan of what they do. And especially the integrity behind what they do. Because these 'challenge' and 'contest' shows can end up being just about cruelty, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't a part of that."
Did you ever have to bite your tongue in favor of being supportive?
"I realized my personal tastes weren't really what the show was about. I was there to help problem solve and bring up the contestants' tastes. There were things that maybe to my eye didn't look as lovely as they could be, but before I said anything I always asked the contestant how they approached it. Design is such a subjective call."
Is Top Design tailored to a queer-eyed fan base?
"What I like about it is it's not just for a gay viewer. [Viewers are] going to see people in a very neutral world. But we have plenty of gays on the show, if that's what you're looking for."
Do you think it's easier for these contestants to jumpstart their careers while competing on national television?
"They have a lot of attention, but in a way they have a bigger obstacle, because they're immediately looked at to perform. Those of us who just get to open out of town, so to speak, and just fine-tune what we do before it gets big, maybe we have a little bit of a leg up."
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