A 'Project Runway' Solution for Our Nation

With confidence in U.S. elected officials at an all-time low, Day to Day commentator Brian Unger takes a closer look at Tim Gunn, the leader of the Bravo reality show Project Runway. Unger says Gunn's ability to lead designers may also translate in an ability to lead the country.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

At least night's Emmy Awards ceremony here in Los Angeles, the TV show Project Runway was among the nominees for Best Reality Series. Disappointing many of us here at DAY TO DAY, it lost to The Amazing Race. But our resident humorist, Brian Unger, wonders if Project Runway's fashion drill sergeant might just have bigger things in his future. Here's today's Unger Report.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. TIM GUNN (Host, Project Runway): We're going into the world of evening wear. Gowns, pageants, red carpet. So think about that.

(Soundbite of music)

BRIAN UNGER reporting:

If you think about it too long, you'll dismiss Project Runway as fleeting as fashion itself. But then you'd be missing out on the most optimistic show in American, in which clothing designers make something from nothing in an hour. You'd also miss meeting the most optimistic man in America, Tim Gunn, who guides designers through the competition.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: In our next challenge they are to use a fashion accessory as the inspiration for their design, and I just have to say I don't think any one of you will be able to guess what it is.

UNGER: The suspense is not killing anyone, but Gunn, who in real life is the chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons' The New School for Design, is so decisively upbeat, so sanguine, he could just win a national presidential election. On his podcast, Gunn describes how he handles conflict among warring designers.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: This is bad.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. GUNN: And you know, part of the challenge here is the relationship the two of you have. I mean it's the classic make it work, and this is not working.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: Wait, is he talking about Israel and Hezbollah? Gunn's is the make-it-work administration.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: I've dropped my little grenade. Let me step away from this, and let's see how they resolve it.

UNGER: No interventions, no invasions. His moral fabric: 100 percent pragmatist. Dry. Clean.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: I don't like conflict, and that's why you'll never find me stirring up a pot when it doesn't need to be stirred. A pot of stuff, that is. I'm not comfortable with conflict. I don't like having to mitigate conflict. But it's also one of my roles.

UNGER: Gunn. It's his name and he'll use one if he has to.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: Make it work.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: It's no wonder the hit on Bravo resonates with viewers. As for America's make-it-work ethic, it has gone fishin' in Kennebunkport. We haven't rebuilt New Orleans, we haven't developed the World Trade Center site, an unending war is straining the psyche of the country, and it is toward political office, not solutions, we find most of our leaders running.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: Give me a break. Save it. Talk about beam me up, Scotty. I mean, where were they going, to Judy Jetson's birthday party?

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: Give 'em hell, Gunn. Putting a good outfit together is a heck of a lot easier than putting the country back together.

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: So we enter into a new challenge.

UNGER: But someone needs to lead. Tim Gunn for president?

(Soundbite of Project Runway)

Mr. GUNN: Make it work.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Humorist Brian Unger comes to us every Monday, and podcast fans, you can now hear Brian's report as a podcast. Just go to our Web site, npr.org.

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