Ondine Karady, the set decorator for “Sex and the City” whose DC pied-à-terre was featured in The Washington Post last year, was so enamored of DC’s style (or, um, lack thereof), that she’s currently shopping a reality show about it, called “Designing DC.”
That fact isn’t news, but Ondine was kind enough to send me the trailer for the show, which hasn’t been released before now.
“It’s: New York decorator comes to DC – can she bring her new, young, hip style and mix it up? Is DC ready to take her on?” Ondine says, reciting the show’s talking points. There are “nibbles” so far, she says, but this is always a lengthy process.
Ondine gave me the video with the condition that I couldn’t post it directly, but I am allowed to describe it. Ondine, who is married to New York Times reporter James Rutenberg, obviously knows many high-profile journalists and pundits in town. So the pilot centers around them first and foremost, and introduces us to some would-be regulars.
Ned Martel, one of the editors of The Post’s Style section, is a longtime friend who will likely call on her for help as he moves back to his home town from New York, where he was an editor at Men’s Vogue.
Democratic consultant and commentator Karen Finney would also make regular appearances. She “is starting her own political consulting business, while also trying to find time for a personal life,” according to the trailer description.
Now that we’ve established the cast, let’s move on to the pilot. It starts out with Ondine in the aisles of a Calico Corners store, a look of resignation on her face as she fingers through bolts of chintz and stripe.
“The current DC style is totally traditional. There’s nothing fresh about it,” she says, scrunching up her face. “It’s just, like, so boring!”
(She acknowledges later on the phone that a lot of this is done for drama, so calm down, people!)
We then get introduced to her apartment, where she’s explaining that her living room sofa was once in Charlotte’s apartment on the set of “Sex and the City” – and it’s later pointed out that the Lucite-block lamp in her office belonged to Mr. Big. Here’s the quick tour:
Now that we’ve established Ondine’s personal style, we go to the home of political strategist Russ Schriefer and Nina Easton, the Washington bureau chief for Fortune Magazine and a commentator on the Fox News Channel. Here, Ondine must navigate between Nina’s traditional taste (“I’m married to my grandfather’s hutch. That can’t go”), and Russ’ more modern vibe (“Lots of white, lots of clean – not everything can be white, just mostly white.” Cut to Nina, who looks at him with arms crossed and eyebrows raised).
“I’ve known them forever” Ondine tells me later. She’s already decorated most of their house in DC, and is starting in on their new beach house.
As for the show, we can expect to see smaller projects in between the main storylines like the one about Russ and Nina. The trailer provides one with a woman who has a collection of hundreds of dolls. Cut to Ondine, trying desperately to find complimentary words.
Other small projects, she tells me, could include finding a chair for the vice president, or a dog house for the president (she was asked to submit a portfolio to decorate the White House residence before Michael Smith was ultimately chosen).
Then we see her walking into Darrell Dean Antiques in Georgetown, chatting up the salesman. This, presumably, is an example of where we can find hip and interesting style.
We see her ogling these very cool 1940’s cut-crystal lamps:
And these 18th-century lion-mask sconces, which would look fabulous in a modern setting:
“It’s time,” Ondine says from the store. “I think DC is definitely ready to make it fresh, make it new, make it more modern, make it cooler.”
Ned echoes that remark in a casting video that accompanies the trailer. “A lot of people think that politics and style can’t co-exist, but a lot of politics is how you present yourself to the world – a lot of people put a lot of thought into it.”
At the end, we see Ondine gathered with her husband, her assistant, Edie Schecter Block who’s down from New York, Karen Finney and Ned – they are all finishing off the day with a bottle of wine at Cork on 14th Street.
If you ask me, this show would be much more fun to watch than the kids on “The Real World” DC, so let’s hope someone picks it up.