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The Real Brokers of New York, as Seen on HGTV
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BEHIND every apartment for sale in Manhattan there’s a story. And with its new series “Selling New York” HGTV is hoping to seduce viewers around the country with tales of the city’s opulent residential properties and the intense New Yorkers who buy and sell them.
“Selling New York,” which had its debut on Thursday, is a smart biopsy of the city’s upscale residential market. With quick camera cuts and skyscraper-high energy, the series revels in the daily whirlwind of New York. That frenetic pace is in sharp contrast to the beauty shots of the properties, which appear as gentle oases of luxury.
It focuses on two Manhattan boutique real estate firms: the Core Group NYC and Gumley Haft Kleier, which is owned and run by the Kleier family.
The show, the network’s first set solely in New York City, is an effort to broaden its audience, said Freddy James, the senior vice president for program development and production. Mr. James believes “Selling New York” will draw more men than the typical HGTV show. The network’s audience is roughly 65 percent women and 35 percent men, he said.
Beyond that, he said, is the gawk factor. “We have such a curious audience,” Mr. James said. “They want to see how other people live. With its extremes — of view, price and size — New York City makes for good TV.”
Each week for 13 weeks, the series will showcase properties as framed by CORE and the Kleiers. Filming began in September and finished in mid-March.
In the first episode, John B. Gomes of Core woos a client who has fallen for a $2.3 million two-bedroom in a 15-story building at 52 East Fourth Street. It includes views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building (from a bathroom). The Kleiers, meanwhile, pull together an open house in four frantic days for a three-bedroom $4.65 million co-op on Park Avenue.
Four days to organize an open house? Of course. This is Manhattan, and clients burst with great expectations. They want it done not only yesterday but also last week, even last month.
The Kleier women — Michele Kleier, the firm’s president, and her daughters Samantha Kleier Forbes and Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern, who are executive vice presidents — jump off the screen. Their scenes are fast, funny and furious, as they talk over one another at the speed of a cabby promised a $50 tip. The show’s makers became so exasperated by their linguistic frenzy that they tried to separate the three of them.
Ian Kleier, husband, father and firm co-president, assumes the role of the bemused dad. Not only does he have his wife and two daughters to leave him speechless, but there’s also Roxy, Dolly and Lola, the family’s Malteses. As Ms. Kleier scrambles eggs for the dogs early in the first episode, she says, “I’ve got to feed the girls.”
Core and its agents come across as more hip but no less intense. The company holds a pool party for clients and brokers at 52 East Fourth Street during Fashion Week, and Mr. Gomes brings one of his clients backstage at a fashion show — the better to give her a friendly nudge toward a sale.
While “Selling New York” is character driven, the properties share top billing. Take, for example, the entire 16th floor of 995 Fifth Avenue, which was filmed earlier this month for the 13th and final episode. An 8,360-square-foot apartment opposite the Metropolitan Museum, it has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Central Park practically bursts into the living room.
Its details include Brazilian mahogany floors and a kitchen with Smallbone of Devizesfurnishings and Italian marble countertops. Oh, and it’s being offered at $28.5 million. During an invitation-only open house, those in attendance were entertained by a string trio.
The Kleiers said they had had to be persuaded to do the show. But the death last September of the youngest child, Jonathan, who had been urging the family to do it, convinced them of its rightness. (The first and last episodes are dedicated to Jonathan, 26, who died from a heart virus.)
Once committed, the Kleiers waded in with their brand of New York moxie. “We loved doing it,” Samantha Kleier Forbes said. “It definitely felt natural. When they refer to us as ‘the talent,’ it makes us giggle. The show just shot us doing what we love to do.”
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