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If you click on a video for a new listing in the Parc Vendôme at 340 West 57th St., you will most likely recognize the first few jazzy notes of the theme song for “The Odd Couple,” the quintessential New York City sitcom about two divorced men living together after their wives have thrown them out.
What follows is a spoof featuring two brokers, Richard Rosenthal and Mark D. Friedman of Brown Harris Stevens, as the mismatched neat freak and slob, who in this scenario are paired up to sell an apartment. Rosenthal as the Felix character cleans windows, fluffs pillows, and sets up the place for a showing. Friedman plays the role of Oscar, dropping his coat on the floor, his cigar butt on the ground, and putting his feet up on the coffee table—as Rosenthal vacuums around him.
It’s a fitting tribute to the owner of the apartment, the late actress Carole Shelley who made her Broadway debut as Gwendolyn Pigeon in the original 1965 production of “The Odd Couple,” reprising her role as Oscar and Felix’s upstairs neighbor for the film and later the 1970s hit television adaption starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.
More recently, Shelley played Madame Morrible in the original cast of “Wicked” and the role of Grandma in “Billy Elliot.”
Shelley, who died in 2018, left her one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo two blocks from Columbus Circle and Central Park to her godson Mark Holden-Hindley, according to the New York Post; he recently put it on the market for $1,350,000. The condo has a renovated kitchen, a wood-burning fireplace, nine-foot, beamed ceilings, arches, original oak floors, and built-in closets.
In a sly nod to 2020, during a split-screen montage reminiscent of the show’s open credits, Rosenthal is dutifully wearing his mask as Friedman rips his off while crossing an intersection.
When your broker is also an actor
Looking at apartment listings is usually something you do out of necessity—not for entertainment value, but quirky videos and listing photos are out there—for example Brian Lewis, a broker at Compass, is known for his memorable listing videos. About a tongue-in-cheek video for 45 Christopher St. that went on to viral infamy years ago, Lewis told Brick he was channeling Matthew McConaughey’s “high-concept self-serious” commercials for Lincoln cars.
The high production value of these creative videos makes sense, considering that many brokers (like Friedman and Lewis) have backgrounds in theater. The hustle, positive attitude, and personality essential to make it as an actor serves brokers well, writes Samantha Weinstein, an agent at Bohemia Realty Group, which hires lots of actors.
Getting creative to stand out
Most real estate listings feature photos and videos scrubbed clean of clues telling who lives there. That’s because sellers are usually told to strip away their personal belongings and go for neutral backgrounds so buyers can see themselves living in the space. But the end result is a lot of places that look awfully similar. Case in point: The many listings on the market that appear to belong to the same prototypical owner who prefers black and white paintings in the style of Franz Kline.
Considering the glut of apartments on the market—the third quarter saw the highest number of listings since 2009, when the last recession ended, according to the Elliman Report—that’s a lot of sameness.
Thanks to his theater background, Friedman saw the chance to make an homage to a very New York show and popular actress—and do something to stand out from the pack.
“We needed to find a way to break through all the noise of the high amount of inventory in a buyer’s market,” Friedman says. “Richard and I have a lot of fun working together so it also seemed perfect for us. We are serious brokers, but we have fun at the same time.”
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