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Design by Dogg?

In VH1's twist on home shows, Snoop redoes a fan's room with some help. OK, a lot of help.

November 23, 2002|Susan Freudenheim | Times Staff Writer

Standing tall, hands lightly clenched at his sides, Snoop Dogg is paying close attention. Hold the brush just so, stroke it like this. House Painting 101. Not what he's used to, but he's game. Lights, camera. Two minutes of banter as he fakes it. "I'm doing splendid, baby doll," he coos to the designer who's guiding him. Cut. One more time. Cut. Whew, that'll do. Where's the paint remover? He's got some on his hand. Get it off. Quick.

And so it goes on site with "Rock the House," VH1's foray into home design, in which rock stars play decorator for a day so a fan can come home to the surprise of his or her life. The artist, with considerable input from one of two designers involved in the show, does a make-over of a room, in Snoop's case, the theme is dogs. Canine images everywhere, a doghouse entertainment center with "Snoop Dogg" spray-painted (by him) over the doors and a plasma TV inside to play his videos. Also a new plaid settee and burgundy shag rug -- Snoop's favorite '70s flavors.

All the new stuff is given to the fan for free, and the access is set up through a go-between mole, usually a spouse or roommate. In the Snoop episode, which airs Monday at 10 p.m., the fan is Allison Ising, 31, an aspiring child psychologist and dog lover. She shares a house on a quiet street on the border of Venice and Mar Vista with her electrician fiance, Phillip Berry, 36, who refers to her as a "Snoopaholic." Indeed, there are a couple of Snoop posters in a "disco room" out back, as well as a lot of smaller pictures of the rapper on the refrigerator.

Waiting for Snoop

The day begins at 9, uh, 11 a.m., when Snoop finally rolls up in his midnight-blue Porsche Carrera, driving himself from his Diamond Bar home with his publicist by his side. The show's limo trails with another half-dozen burly guys -- bodyguards or whatever. No one from the neighborhood is watching when Snoop, 6 foot 4 in a cranberry-colored track suit and matching running shoes, elegantly unfurls himself from the car, which is a good thing, because the producers take pains to keep the shoots a secret. He takes the troop into a waiting trailer and disappears, leaving the VH1 cast and crew biting their fingernails. Prep work is well underway, but Snoop hasn't yet seen the designer's mock-up, and Ising will be home from her job at a catering company around 6. The make-over has to be done by then.

"We're working on Snoop Time now," says the affable Richie Abbott, the rapper's personal publicist and an employee of Priority Records, which will release Snoop's CD "Paid Tha Cost to Be Da Bo$$" on Tuesday, a day after his "Rock the House" first airs. Snoop is definitely the center of this world, but the show can't really wait for him, so the new living room is taking shape without his approval.

"We always have contingency plans," says Kim Rozenfeld, vice president for series development and programming at VH1 and an executive producer of the show. He's been here for hours already, fully anticipating that Snoop would be late. Lisa Snowdon, the show's perky English host, and Kelly Van Patter, today's designer, have begun filming too, with a cast of on-camera workers who have cleared the room of its dog-eared contents and started priming the walls.

Snoop's input so far has come from a brief questionnaire and a phone conversation with Van Patter.

What's your style?

" '70s."

What are your two favorite colors?

"Blue, gray." (Never mind that Van Patter has done the room in green and red.)

Is there an overall color of your ideal room?

"Rich."

What one sentence sums up your style/taste?

"Laid-back."

Take 2

The concept is to show a different, more homey side of the star, the person who likes to do normal stuff and loves the fans. The fact is, though, that this is not reality TV -- the artist is prepped, there's a lot of acting. Snoop is clearly not a do-it-yourselfer, and when, at about 11:30, he emerges, jacket steamed out, hair re-braided, he knows he's going to be working, if not sweating.

There has to be an entrance, so Snoop gets back in the Porsche and approaches the driveway. Screech. The low-slung car scrapes a bump in the sidewalk. Unfazed, he does it again. This time, though, he parks parallel.

Time to spackle. "OK, Snoop, so what we're going to do here ..." says Van Patter, showing him how. He watches and says, "I'll say, 'I normally wouldn't be doing this, but this is my No. 1 fan.' " Snoop is catching on. Cameras roll, and he snaps into character. "Well, let's spackle backle," he raps. "I want to make the house look sharp, never crackle."

Van Patter tells him that the spackle won't be pink when it dries. "Oh, I thought it was going to stay pink because pink is one of my favorite colors. I'll tell you off-camera why ...." He turns to the camera: "Kids, don't try this at home without your parents' permission."

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