How Real Is the HGTV Show 'Property Brothers?'

Plus, a criminal Durst-raction and Gere-Lowell, post-divorce, B&B drama.

Unreal Estate?

Q: Last year, the HGTV show Property Brothers came to Westchester for a second time. I love the show, and the twins, Drew and Jonathan, are real hunks. My question is, how real is the show? —Debbie Kaplan, Mount Kisco

A: It all depends how you define “real.” This is, after all, reality TV, and one has to apply a sliding scale with regard to the authenticity quotient.

For those who don’t know the premise of the show: Two dashing identical twins, one a Realtor (Drew Scott), the other a contractor (Jonathan Silver Scott), help home seekers decide among their ideal luxury homes (which they can never afford) and three fixer-uppers. Jonathan then goes about designing and renovating one of the choices into the dwelling of their dreams, but not before a seemingly insoluble building challenge occurs, right about 17 minutes into the show.

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So, what’s just (double-hung, fiberglass, insulated) window dressing? When you apply to be on the show, part of the requirements include: already having funding in place to buy a home, having four rooms you want made over and having at least a $65,000 budget. Also, you can have the kitchen or a bath renovated but not both, and you must have a partner in buying the home. This last point is presumably so that the couple can bicker on national TV, which is a cornerstone of the show’s plot.

It doesn’t take much thought to also realize that Drew can’t be wheeling and dealing real estate all over the country while doing this show, making appearances and hawking books. And do we really think Jonathan, hunk that he may be, is cranking out all of this work solo? There are also claims that show participants have already picked out their houses, know they can’t buy their dream homes and have been asked for a 25 percent contingency fee, probably to spend on the big insurmountable challenge presented in that 17th minute.

So, how real is it? You’d be safe to assume, as with any reality-TV show, that some scripting is involved.


The Devil Made Me Do It

Q: I read that Robert Durst used an “Asperger’s defense” to get out of a murder charge in one of his cases. Is that true, and how did that work out? —Charlie Tedeski, Yonkers

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A: That’s probably overstating things a bit.

As was well documented in the HBO series The Jinx, Durst fled New York for Galveston, TX. He was a suspect in the death of his wife, Kathie, though her body was never found, and there was no forensic evidence of her disappearance. In Texas, Durst lived as a deaf-mute woman in a nondescript apartment. His next-door neighbor’s body parts, minus a head, washed up from Galveston Bay, and the police found a trail of blood leading from the house he’d shared with Durst, who was charged with the crime.

Durst claimed self-defense, but during the trial, the question arose of how an individual could coldly and methodically dismember a body. After consulting a psychiatrist, Durst’s lawyers attributed it to Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum in which the afflicted have average to above-average IQs but poor social skills.

Though his lawyers made this claim, it is probably not responsible for his acquittal. The jury pointed to a lack of evidence necessary to support premeditated murder.

According to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Department of Health and Human Services, “There is no scientific evidence linking [those with autism spectrum disorders] with homicides or other violent crimes. In fact, studies of court records suggest that people with autism are less likely to engage in criminal behavior than the general population, and people with Asperger’s syndrome, specifically, are not convicted of crimes at a rate any higher than that of the general population.”  

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Gere Splitting

Q: What happened to the ownership of the Bedford Post Inn in the wake of Richard Gere and Carey Lowell’s brutal divorce? Who got the B&B? —Sally Ann Rumack, Ossining

A: The much-publicized divorce proceedings took more than three years, with Gere’s estimated $120-million-plus fortune at stake. It was reported that at times, Lowell and Gere wouldn’t even acknowledge each other’s presence in the courtroom, though she’d hug his attorney. Lowell played ADA Jamie Ross for five years on Law & Order and first came to fame as a Bond girl in 1989’s Licence to Kill, with Timothy Dalton.

The terms of the settlement weren’t made public when it was finally completed in October of last year. However, Gere’s name appears, without Lowell’s, on the current ownership documentation.

Even if you’re not into celebrity B&Bs, eateries Campagna and The Barn are reasons enough to visit the Bedford Post Inn. 


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