[06/23/08 - 12:04 AM]
Interview: "Flipping Out" Co-Stars Jeff Lewis & Jenni Pulos
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

The second season of "Flipping Out" on Bravo is underway and the biggest question is will house flipper Jeff Lewis continue to "flip out" as he often did during the popular first season or has he mellowed? Judging from the first episode where Jeff specified the temperature he wanted his Starbucks (140 degrees, in case you were wondering... wait, make that 150 so by the time it gets from the store to his hand, it should be a perfect 140 degrees), the Jeff that viewers loved to hate from the first season is alive and well. But, to dig deeper into Jeff's world, who better to talk to than Jeff and Jenni Pulos, his Chief Executive Assistant. The pair dished about the new season, the depressed market in Los Angeles and if therapy is having a positive effect on Jeff.

There are a handful of changes on "Flipping Out" this season but the reality series, which focuses on a team of house flippers led by Jeff, will continue to engage and entertain with house makeovers and the often times eccentric cast.

Alongside Jeff and Jenni, many of the faces from last season are back while a few new additions pop up to populate the series. Returning are Jeff's business partner/former boyfriend Ryan, trash man turned house manager Chris, snappy maid Zoila as well as two additions - a new assistant also named Chris and a new dog named (you guessed it!) Chris. Though he can't speak for Chris the assistant, Jeff insists the dog's name came with the pooch when he adopted him so there should be no confusion that his trademark obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is at work here. Part of the fun of the series is how each of the cast has their own distinct way of dealing with Jeff's rants and ravings whether it's by directly challenging him or waiting until their private confessional moments to reveal how they feel about his actions. One thing is clear, however. There's consistently an undercurrent of loyalty that comes from the regulars, who may not like Jeff's quirks but they "get" him and understand him. Working in Jeff's world is not for the thin skinned, for sure.

Ironically, Jeff revealed during the chat that his OCD wasn't originally the focus of the show. In regards to the launch of the series last year, Jeff said that, "after [the producers] had three months of footage and they started putting it together, it just ended up becoming a major plotline and that's not something that we ever even discussed in the beginning." The difference this season is Jeff has started seeing a therapist! "I have been in therapy for the last several months," Jeff explained. "We have talked about medication but I really didn't want to start or try any sort of medication because I guess I'm really fearful of any sort of effects."

If his outbursts and often-irrational behavior, wear on the viewers, imagine how it must be to work with Jeff. The bubbly Jenni talked about how she handles dealing with him since she's his right-hand in the flipping business. "I have a lot of respect for Jeff's work... but I definitely give it to him when I think [he's] inappropriate." Jeff's therapy seems to be working, though, Jenni observed. "He's definitely responding differently to � he doesn't explode right away. He takes things now, he thinks about it and he's responding, you know, much more effectively."

The admiration Jenni has for Jeff is not one-sided either. "I think that Jenni and I have a similar work ethic," Jeff shared. "I mean, she's pursuing her career. She puts 150% pursuing her career, which is acting." To conclude, Jeff added that, "I respect her drive and her ambition, her passion for her career but also her work ethic. And I think that's why we get along so well."

Another change in the current season is that Jeff has had to take some remodeling work to compensate for the dried up real estate market in Los Angeles. One of his employers is a woman who is as demanding as Jeff is on his employees,. This taste-of-his-own-medicine proved to Jeff that there are no coincidences in life. "I mean, I do believe I was to work for this woman for a reason and she makes me look like a kitten." He adds, "It's just very funny that I end up working for this woman and I absolutely take a look at the way that I've treated people in the past after I've been through this experience."

If the real estate market in Los Angeles is hurting so bad right now, then, why stay there when there are so many other parts of the country that are not as bad off? "Over the past nine years in Los Angeles," Jeff explained. "I've gotten to know a good six, seven, eight cities. And by doing that, I spend a ton of time... going to all the Open Houses, watching the sales, watching what comes on the market." Focusing on one city, then, is beneficial, he says, because to, "be a successful flipper, you really have to know the neighborhoods so when something comes up, you have to be able to act quickly."

As for being in front of the cameras for a second year, both Jeff and Jenni admitted that there are benefits to having gone through the first season of the series. Jenni promised, "I think that it became easier for us this year. I think you're going to see we're even more ourselves. There's even more of a, you know, comfortable sense between all of us." Jeff followed by speaking to his having more control this year with the shooting of the series. "In Season One, the producers... would stop me in the middle of the workday and ask me questions. They call those OTFs � on-the-fly � which I learned about last year." Since these OTFs were disruptive to the flow of his business day, Jeff says the difference this year is, "I'm literally now completely in control. Nobody stops me in the middle of the workday. If anything, they're rushing to keep up with me. So there's no � I don't really have the distractions that I did last season."

Finally, Jeff expounded on the notion that he has taken the responsibility of keeping his stress at a lower level this year by trimming the fat on some of his personal and professional relationships. "I've cut out at least eight people out of my life in the last year... and replaced [them] with people that are more productive and effective and professional." He further explains that "I've kind of re-strategized and it changed the way that I'm running my business and also running my personal life."

The "Flipping Out" viewer, then, may see some amazing transformations that happen to the properties that Jeff works on but it also seems that they can learn from Jeff's behavior, which, thankfully for those viewers who watch more for the personal flipping outs, is still not perfect.

"Flipping Out" airs on Bravo every Tuesday night at 10pm EST/PST.

  [june 2008]  


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