From the first phone call to taping b-roll footage, below is Erin’s first-person account of auditioning and landing a spot on the TLC show Trading Spaces.
Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)
Erin: Diary author and flirtatious helper #1
Jess: Neurotic homeowner #1
Corinne: Giggly homeowner #2
Amy: Fellow makeup fiend, helper #2
Janel: Trading Spaces researcher and Erin’s new best friend
Harvey: Trading Spaces scout and lover of Minnesota babes
Jackie: Erin’s coworker/personal stylist/PR coordinator
Natalie: Trading Spaces girlie-girl producer extraordinaire
Thursday, May 1, 2003
I came back from a meeting to an email from Jess – “Call me immediately.” I called in the car on my way home from the airport. The news was definitely not what I had been expecting! We were one of the finalists for the Trading Spaces episodes in Minneapolis. There was much screaming in the car and I’m sure a few people on the Iowa freeway looked at me a little funny.
In December, Jess and Corinne had talked to Amy and I about submitting an application for Trading Spaces. They live about a block apart from each other, both own their homes and wanted us to be their partners for the show. “Sure!” I said. “I’d love to!” I gave them my address and info and they put together an amazing scrapbook of pictures of their houses, complete with a little TLC truck on the back page. Apparently, creativity gets you noticed.
So the scoop was that Trading Spaces was going to do three shows in Minneapolis for next season. They had narrowed it to 10 finalists and would conduct phone interviews over the next week. From that they would narrow the field to six. The scout would fly out the week after that and meet with each of the six to do an interview.
We felt we had a good chance if we could just make it to the face-to-face interview. Four young, successful women with houses in the city. Perfect, no?
Monday, May 5, 2003
“Hi, this is Janel from Trading Spaces.”
So not what you expect to hear when you answer your phone. Five minutes prior Jess and I had been trying to set up a good time to do the phone interview. Apparently we were going to do it right then! Janel conferenced in Jess so she could interview us together. She asked the standard questions: “How do you know each other? What do you do for a living? What do you want done with your room? What do you want to do with your friend’s room?” It was a bit of an awkward interview. Neither one of us knew who should answer first and our answers seemed a bit short. What we lacked in content, though, we made up for in enthusiasm.
Immediately after hanging up with Janel, my phone rang and it was Jess. We didn’t think our interview had gone well but we figured Amy and Corinne could make up for it in theirs. We called them and informed them they needed to be witty and charming for their phone interview, which should not be a problem for them.
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Amy and Corinne had their interview today and it went very well! Janel virtually assured us we’d make it to the next round. She thinks we’d make a great episode. Apparently, some people are not at all enthusiastic about being in the show, which astounds me.
I’m super superstitious and have only now started telling people. Amy is telling the world! At this point, the more good vibes, the better. Hopefully we’ll know more soon.
Wednesday, May 7, 2003
We made it to the final six! Our face-to-face interview is next Friday at 9:00 am.
It’s a 50/50 chance now.
I got the phone call from Janel, which was so exciting. Man, I feel like she’s my new best friend! I love her so much. Out interview with Harvey the scout is next Friday. The interview is five hours long and no one really knows what to expect. Can it really last five hours?
Friday, May 16, 2003
So today, Trading Spaces interview! We met with the show scout so he could film the rooms and our interviews. Personally, I thought the day went really well. He loved us and spent a lot of time with us joking around and measuring absolutely everything in our rooms so I’m hoping he thinks we have a shot at being a good show. It was a long day, though. Here’s the breakdown:
8:00 am – Meeting with the girls for mimosas and strategy. Mostly it was just mimosas since we realized we had no strategy.
9:30 am – Harvey arrives. He checked out Corinne’s house first. We would be doing her living room. He checked out the room, the layout, the space and what she would want protected. We then walked over to Jess’s house (only four minutes, which was good) and did the same over there. We’re also doing her living room. Had either house not met the specifications or had too many items protected, the interview would have been done.
10:00 am – Harvey goes over how the shoot would work. He covered how each day was structured, the size of the crew, who does what, extra help for sewing and carpentry and also what was in the contracts we would be signing. It was a lot to cover, but very cool to hear how things actually go down.
11:00 am – Jess and I head back to her house while Harvey interviews Corinne and Amy (on camera). He measured her room and videotaped her entire house.
12:30 pm – It’s finally our turn! While waiting, I had a minor incident with a piece of pizza. Of course, five minutes before I’m supposed to be filmed, I spill on my white shirt. We scrubbed and managed to get the stain out. Harvey asked the same questions as Janel, only this time he filmed our answers. “What do you want done in your room? What are your design styles? What colors do you like? What do you want to do with Corinne’s room?” After filming the house he took some still pictures of us. He got us to do some goofy shots. Hopefully he won’t use those in his presentation.
Harvey didn’t leave until 2:30. At the end of the day Jess asked him if he thought we were memorable and he told her we were special. She asked “Short bus special?” and apparently he got a huge laugh out of that. So I think we’re memorable! He pitches the show ideas to his boss and then the network has to approve them so it will be late next week before we find out. Oh! Also found out we’ll be the first episodes to air next season, so I’m guessing it will be sometime in September.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Stepped off the plane in Minneapolis to two voicemail messages. The first from Jess – “I left a longer message on your work voicemail, but call me when you get this.” The second from Amy – “Call me.”
Everyone thought we would hear officially on Thursday. Harvey would put together the presentations on Monday, pitch to his boss on Tuesday, pitch to the network on Wednesday, and call us Thursday. We had it all figured out. So we were all caught off guard when Jess got a phone call today asking if we could shoot June 10-12. Um, yes?! They had no news yet though, just checking to see if we had any conflicts. A flurry of emails went back and forth. Would we hear today? Would they wait until tomorrow to give us news?
I called Jess back first. It was good news – we made it! Even better than that, we’ll be the season opening episode! Apparently the network loved us and had to have the “four babes from Minneapolis” to open Season Four. That piece of the news was a little insane. We figured we had a shot because the houses were actually in the city instead of the suburbs and had tons of character. Apparently, we didn’t account for the babe factor.
Shooting is June 10-12. That’s only three weeks away! Sadly, although the network really wanted Ty to do our episode, he’s not coming to Minneapolis. We’ll give Amy Wynn lots of love instead, I guess.
Next up were frantic calls to friends and family. Everyone is so excited for us! The whole being on TV thing has not sunk in yet. Hopefully it will sometime before June 10.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
The Trading Spaces thing is starting to sink in. Three short weeks until Paige Davis is my new best friend! I flat ironed my hair a bit this morning and am thinking of doing my hair like this for taping. My poor coworkers. They will now be subjected to “Should I do my hair like this?” every morning.
Friday, May 23, 2003
We have a few lists from the Trading Spaces people that we need to fill out. The first is a list of stores near the houses. Things like the closest Target or Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowes, fabric stores and then any bargain antique, junk or thrift stores. Jess and Corinne took care of those. The other is a list of things to do or places to shoot Paige’s intro to the show as well as our interviews (Day Zero). It was kind of fun to think of different, distinctive places around Minneapolis. Jess really wanted both shots to feature the Minneapolis skyline. We recommended the Cherry and Spoon sculpture in the sculpture garden, the First Avenue nightclub (they have a cool wall with the names of the bands that have played there), the Mary Tyler Moore statue, and the lakes. We put similar ideas down for our interviews, but after watching a few episodes recently, everyone else seems to be baking cookies or just hanging in their yard. Hopefully ours will be a little more distinctive.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Jess contacted the local gossip columnist. She’s doing a write up that will be in the June 5th Minneapolis StarTribune. Apparently she’s not a fan of the show and her column will not be kind. Jess asked her to be nice but I don’t think that’s in the job description for a gossip columnist.
If you need some motivation to eat healthy and exercise, arrange to be on TV! It’s much easier to say no to that cookie when the camera adds ten pounds is running through your head. A bonus of the healthy diet is that you have energy and feel good! Who knew?
It’s been so fun telling all of our friends and family about the show, but it’s even more fun hearing them tell their friends and family. There are so many people excited about our show!
Thursday June 5, 2003
It’s been a busy day! Trading Spaces called this morning wanting more detailed ideas for Corinne’s room. I talked more about bringing color in and doing something cool on the wall. She brought up a mural or something with a lot of color. I’m up for either! I asked a few other questions about how much we would know before shooting starts. We most definitely will not find out our designers beforehand. That is top secret information. We will, however, find out where the intros will be shot. This is good and will help with the planning of the outfit.
The Pioneer Press just called and wanted to do an interview with me. The reporter is a huge fan of the show so it was really easy to talk to her. Once we got past the initial stuff, she asked me how I felt about Genevieve (one of the show’s designers) so I talked about how she’s fabulous and since she’s local we’re hoping she does at least one of the Minnesota episodes. Reporter kind of stuttered and then said, “She’s doing your episode.” Me – WHAT? We joke about how I had just had a conversation with Trading Spaces and they had told me it would be this big secret. So yes, she had a list of the cast – Gen and Doug are our designers. I think they’ll be perfect for us.
Friday June 6, 2003
So this is all getting a little weird now.
My whole office knows. Jackie sent out an email with the Pioneer Press article. I’ve gotten two types of emails back. The women send emails saying they’re jealous and want the scoop. The boys send emails asking for autographs. I don’t think much work will get done this afternoon.
Jackie and I went shopping at lunch. She came in my office this morning and informed me that she had thought of the perfect Day Zero outfit. Apparently she tuned me out when I said I wasn’t buying anything for this. But Jackie has incredible fashion sense and we actually found an outfit that matched her vision – white shirt with black capri cargo pants with the little tie at the bottom. I bought a few other things that would work as alternates. At the end of our shopping spree, Jackie announced that maybe I should just wear my *NSYNC t-shirt and jeans. At least I saved all of the receipts.
Next stop was Border’s to purchase all of the copies of the Pioneer Press they had. I take my papers up to pay. Our article was front page right at the top. The girl ringing me up says, “I just love this show!” I’m all *pointing at my quote* “That’s me! I’m going to be on it!” Lather, rinse and repeat at store number two. Don’t ask why I need five copies of the article, I have no idea either! So big smile today. This has definitely been an adventure!
Also! Both articles mentioned that the episode would air in August, which is very cool. One actually said early August so not as long to wait!
Sunday June 8, 2003
Natalie our producer called today. She sounds very cool! Definitely put me at ease about everything. I have a feeling the shoot will be a lot of fun. Our call time has been moved up for Tuesday so we’ll have to cancel our MAC appointments, but no big deal. I think glam makeup may look a little out of place for running anyway.
Monday June 9, 2003
T-minus 1 day until shooting starts! We all had manicures and pedicures tonight. Nice and relaxing. Natalie hung out with us for a while as well. Little odd when Doug and Gen were calling her cell phone. This is actually going to happen!
Tuesday June 10, 2003
We arrived at Lake Calhoun at 10:30 am. It was *hot* and humid. The Trading Spaces crew arrived about 10:45. The four of us got miked up. It was odd, as the sound guy was shoving a mic down my sports bra and a battery pack down my pants. Good thing I had on new underwear because I’m pretty sure he got a good view of those!
Jess and I were up first with our introduction interview. The producer told us to not look directly into the camera, to instead look at her and to rephrase her question when we gave our answers since no one would hear her questions. The interview took a while. First it got windy and they had to adjust the microphones. Then, plane after plane flew over so we’d have to stop each time.
Once we were finished, Amy and Corinne did their interview. Theirs took just as long if not longer due to even *more* planes. It was crazy. Next up was the b-roll footage of the four of us. I was a teeny bit hyper by this time and was skipping and singing and generally annoying the sound guy who listens to everything you say. At one point I got him to sing “Tricky” by Run DMC with me. I think this footage is going to be very cute and everyone will probably laugh, but we had fun!
It finally came time for us to actually run and Jess was bitching about it. We started about 40 yards from the camera and ran towards it chatting. Our topic of conversation was what we wanted for lunch that day. Totally forgot that the sound guy was listening. He pronounced our conversation “riveting.” Back it up and do it again, so this time we discussed who was hotter – Justin Timberlake or Sound Guy? Ha! Our efforts were rewarded with an evil glare. Third shot we discussed Sound Guy’s lack of an ass. “Sound Guy is hot, but he’s got no ass!” “Yes, but he could get butt implants.” Poor boy was christened “No Ass” and the name stuck for the rest of the shoot.
The designers arrived about noon. Gen walked by me about three times before I finally introduced myself. She’s so cool. Just so cool. I can’t even describe it. Totally asked about how we know each other, where we went to school, where we grew up, where we have cabins. Just genuinely nice. I met Doug briefly before things broke up. Amy and I went to lunch, I took a nap and now I just have to wait until the show tapes tomorrow!