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With 'Million Dollar Decorators,' Bravo bets audiences will love the return of big spending

April 7, 2011 |  6:00 am

Is the recession over? Bravo says, "Yes."

The network is preparing to launch "Million Dollar Decorators," a docu-series featuring five Los Angeles-based interior design teams whose clients have some of the biggest budgets in the industry. The cast -- pictured above, from left, Mary McDonald, Jeffrey Alan Marks, Nathan Turner, Kathryn Ireland and Martyn Lawrence Bullard -- will give viewers an intimate look at their design process and client relationships.

Although many economists said the recession technically ended in 2009, unemployment remains high and spending habits have been slow to shift. Will "Million Dollar Decorators" time it just right, catching a nation in economic recovery and an audience eager to see big spending back on the small screen?

“We definitely have seen the design business recover faster in Europe and on the East Coast. Now it’s slowly moving towards Los Angeles,” Marks said. “There was a slowdown for a good 18 months where the phone stopped ringing with new projects, which is partially why we had time to film the show.”

Ross Cassidy, a designer at Marks' firm, said viewers might see the show as a metaphor.

“I think people are just desperate for good news again," he said. "They want to feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I think that’s hopefully what the show will provide.”

Marks and Cassidy said business is back, especially with hotels and restaurants, but they said their typical client is, well, hardly typical. “I couldn’t afford myself as a decorator,” Marks said. “Our clients have no problem spending $75,000 on a desk.”

Nathan Turner, who cast members said has the most relaxed aesthetic, was "hopeful but cautious" that the show would be perceived as a symbol of economic recovery. The times remind him of another period of recent history. "I opened my store six months after 9/11," he said. "I made it through, but it was tough.”

The economy and fears of public backlash were not deciding factors in the timing of the show, said Shari Levine, senior vice president of production for Bravo.

“If we had the cast and production company in place two years ago, we would have aired it then,” she said. The premiere date is still in flux, but the latest word is that the show will air its first eight episodes in late May or early June.

-- Lizzie Garrett Mettler

Photo: Bravo


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