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October 4, 2015

Nate Berkus Talks About Hosting His Own Show, Gay Bullying and Halloween Costumes

by Kelly Woo, posted Oct 18th 2010 11:00AM
Nate BerkusNate Berkus may have started out as Oprah Winfrey's interior design guru, but as the host of his new talk show (syndicated, daily), he's aiming for to do more than help viewers redecorate their bedrooms. He wants to help them make over their lives.

"Living well encompasses a lot," he told TV Squad in an interview last week. 'The Nate Berkus Show' is "not just about design, but it's about everything that goes on in the home."

That can encompass many topics, from entertaining tips to planning a budget vacation. But Berkus also hopes his show will address issues, Oprah-style, that affect his audience, like gay bullying.

He spoke to us about why he's spoken out about bullying, what's coming up on the show and his dream segment.

The show's been a success in the ratings, congratulations. What's the feedback from fans been like?
It's been really positive. Obviously, we keep developing the show as we go, but it's been really positive feedback. It's interesting because people are repeating things back to me in the airport.

That's how you know you're a big star.
I guess. What's been great, we're going into some really great, super exciting design segments that I'm thrilled about and we've just had so many wonderful people on the show and the show just seems to get better and better.

Can you tell us about some segments that are upcoming?
Yeah, we actually have Sally Field on the show Monday, which is terrific, and we talk about design and her role as a mom and what a perfect space would mean to her ... We've got tons of upcoming segments that are hilarious. The auction show aired yesterday, just teaching people about auctions and how what great deals you can get there. We have our version of the dating game, but it's all based on design. It's been really, really funny and hopefully really helpful.

And Tuesday's show is about tips on saving money in your home, right? People will love that right now in this economy.
Definitely. For me, I know how busy people are and I know that if they're going to give me an hour of their time, I want them to have information they can use and apply to their daily lives. The next couple weeks of shows coming up -- if you are a person who wants to know how you can make a change literally right now in how you're living, like today, then the show is going to be able to deliver that information. How to live better, how to love beautifully, all of it.

People love those simple tips you can do in a day, I know I do!
Absolutely, absolutely. We're doing something called "paycheck to paycheck makeovers." We figure out with an audience member really how much money she has to create a brand new room if she put aside a certain amount of money very week or every month. We can actually show everybody how they can transform their homes. The first one we did was setting aside $50 a week -- what you would be able to do over a period of a week, a month, six months, a year and 18 months.

It's really phenomenal and we sort of take everybody on the same journey to show them, "What is the best way to design on a budget?" What are they best things to spend the money on? We actually find the furniture, the products, the ideas to show everybody exactly how to do it. And that's the kind of information that I really love.

Nate Berkus ShowWhy did you chose to do a talk show versus a more straightforward design show?
Well, for me, I think that living well encompasses a lot. It's not just about design, but it's about everything that goes on in the home. So, the lens of the show is definitely about design and design ideas, but also, I want the show to be out there in the world. I want to be able to address current events, I want to be able to address what is happening right now in our society.

We came from a place where everybody was using their credit cards to make themselves feel, look and live better, and now that that's not really an option, how do we do those things without putting ourselves in debt? That involves: how do we entertain differently? How do we dress? What's a great itinerary for the weekend, instead of taking off for a vacation to some destination, what's going on in your own backyard?

We have a segment called "In Your Own Backyard" where we're going around the country finding these amazing things people can do around where they live ... All over the country [women] are bringing in stuff that their exes gave them or the things that they don't wear or decorate with anymore. And they're throwing parties around the country and leaving with brand new things that costs no money that they love. For me, it's all about what information or what stories can I bring to light that inspire people and are also aspirational. Just because you don't have a lot of money to spend doesn't meant that you shouldn't be living well.

In terms of addressing current events, I saw you were on 'Larry King' talking about bullying. How did you get involved in that?
The producers of 'Larry King' called me because I've been out for a long time and they wanted me to be on the panel with Lance Bass and Kathy Griffin and Wanda Sykes and I jumped at the chance to be a part of that because I feel like it's a really huge issue right now. I actually think it's an epidemic.

It's amazing how much the issue of bullying has become raised up in the public consciousness.
I think it's become raised in the public consciousness for a number of reasons. Number one, obviously, there are kids who are losing their life and taking their own life and we cannot just sit back and not respond to that. I don't know of any stronger call to action than a 13-year-old boy taking his own life in California. It's not possible to be a decent, caring human being and not be moved by what's happening.

Secondly, what I think a lot of people don't realize is that the methodology of bullying has changed because of technology. When I was a kid and I was bullied in school or friends were bullied in school, it happened on the playground, at the bus stop -- it was an isolated incident between you, the bully and whoever bore witness to it.

Now, it's being posted on the Internet, it's going viral, it's on YouTube, it's on Facebook, it's in all the social media and ... I don't know that there's anything worse. There's a lot of shame associated with being bullied and the goal is to end the bullying and contain it and when it can't be contained, that's when I think it becomes overwhelming for these children.

Now that you have this platform, do you think the show might evolve eventually to deal with issues like this, to be more Oprah-esque?
Well, I think that's a good question. I'm very clear on what my viewers come to me for. And what my viewers come to me for is guidance and advice on how to live better, and I have no problem with that. Does that mean I'm not out in the world and interested in what else is happening and finding social issues really important? No, that doesn't mean that. I don't really want to put any limitations on my show on what we're able to do, but I think that it's also a journey. We will actually be addressing gay bullying on my show this season. We're handling it in a way that's unique to my show and unique to my viewer and relatable to my viewer. I'm actually really excited about that show.

What's been the biggest surprise in hosting your own show versus being on 'Oprah'?
I think it's a totally different set of skills necessary to be a host. I'm improving every day as well and learning new things every day. It's sort of learn as you go in many many ways. What I think has been the most surprising thing is it's much easier to be a guest than it is to be a host, because as a host you have to be in control of everything that's happening and if you don't ... You have to keep both hands on the wheel and if you take one hand off the wheel, all of a sudden your guest is uncomfortable, the audience is uncomfortable -- you really have to know what you're doing.

You've had some great guests on the show, do you have a favorite that you've had so far?
I don't have a favorite so far, but I have to say Sally Field has been my family's favorite for so long so it was really great for her to come on the show. I loved, loved being with her.

Do you have a future dream guest or segment?
I would like to tour the private areas of the White House on the show. I think it would be really interesting to see those design decisions.

Let me ask you about Halloween. Are you going to dress up?
I am, but I haven't worked out my costume yet and every time I see a trailer for a movie or every time I see something on the Internet I think, "I could be that." But I haven't locked it down yet.

What were you last year?
Last year I was Keith Urban.

Are you planning a Halloween episode?
We're talking about it right now. We have some ideas floating around.

Do you have any guilty pleasure shows that you watch?
You know, I have to tell you that I hate the term "guilty pleasure." I just like the term pleasure. And I would say the entire 'Real Housewives' franchise. There's a new one ['Beverly Hills'] that I haven't seen yet, but I plan on seeing it. We actually have worked with a lot of the 'Housewives' on this show.

Coming up we have a really great show where Caroline Manzo steps in. It's a really funny story, it's an incredible story actually, with these two women who are on sort of a "highway to a husband." It was a storyline that we're following this season on the show: these two women who left their lives, got in a car and are traveling across the country and we are following them. One of them is looking to get married and one is along for the adventure and their first stop was to Caroline Manzo's house in New Jersey.

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We're talking about it right now. We have some ideas floating around.http://www.hermeselling.com

October 19 2010 at 9:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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