YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Actor/singer/accomplished magician Neil Patrick Harris got his start working his barely pubescent stuff in the late 1980s as a teenage genius physician on the sitcom Doogie Howser, M.D. He managed to transition from nerdy-cute child star to adult actor with a couple of obtuse but successful comedies about stoners and shroomers (the Harold and Kumar Go to… film franchise). We’re not sure if there’s any correlation here, but since Mister Harris came out of the proverbial closet on the cover of People magazine in 2006 his showbiz career has shot off like a rocket and, like with so many other celebs whose back accounts fatten as their star rises, Mister Harris has steadily upgraded his real estate situation.
In July of 1999 a twenty-something year old Mister Harris paid $635,000 for a 4 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom ranch-style bachelor pad in a perfectly lovely if lackluster Studio City, CA neighborhood well north of Ventura Boulevard. Anyone with knowledge of the highways and bi-ways of Los Angeles knows exactly what north of Ventura Boulevard means real estate-wise. In 2004 he hooked up with his current man-mate and baby-daddy, actor David Burtka but didn’t go public with their love that had previously dared not speak its name until September of 2007. Just prior to that, in mid-May of 2007 Mister Harris listed his 1,996 square foot Studio City residence with an asking price of $1,299,000 and six short weeks later the property sold above asking price for $1,325,000. This was, chickadoodles, during the white hot heat of the most recent and long-popped real estate bubble. The market has cooled considerable since than and all the real estate Chicken Littles will note that the buyer’s of Mister Harris’s bachelor pad sold the property in early 2010 for $1,149,000, a $176,000 slap in the real estate face.
In need of a new home, in mid-2007 Mister Harris–presumably with considerable input from his man-beau–slapped down $1,500,000 for a new house in Studio City, this one better located in the hills south of Ventura Boulevard. Misters Harris and Burtka’s house in the hills, a fairly modest 2,408 square foot ranch style number situated up a long gated drive, has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a swimming pool and view north over the twinkly lights of the San Fernando Valley.
Turns out 2007 was a banner year for Mister Harris who received the first of four Emmy nominations (’07, ’08, ’09 and ’10) for his current role as a heterosexual womanizer on the hokey but very successful sitcom How I Met Your Mother. In 2009 and in 2010 he received Golden Globe nominations, also for for How I Met Your Mother, and in 2010 Mister Harris took home two Emmy statuettes, one for hosting the 2009 Tony Awards and the other for his guest star turn on the gay gay gay supernova tee-vee program Glee.
Along the way he voiced a number of animated projects (Batman: Under the Red Hood), recorded the safety instructions for a roller coaster at Disneyland and appeared in a slew of Broadway productions including Proof, Cabaret and Assassins. Perhaps unlike the cheeky comedic button pusher Ricky Gervais, Mister Harris is an increasingly popular (if benign) host of entertainment industry awards programs including the TV Land Awards, The Emmys and the Tonys. Time magazine include Mister Harris on their 2010 list of the world’s 100 most influential people. This is not, Junior Mints, a mid-career actor who will anytime soon have to twinkle his toes on Dancing With the Stars in what is all too often an embarrassing and naked attempt by a falling star to revive a moribund career.
Anyhoo, getting back to the real estate matter at hand…It has come to our attention via the Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial that in April of 2010–nearly a year ago already–Mister Harris (and Mister Burka) acquired a 6 bedroom and 4.5 bathroom mini-mansion in Sherman Oaks, CA for which property records show they paid $2,100,000. Their decision to decamp from Studio City to a larger house in Sherman Oaks may (or may not) have had something to do with the fraternal twins the man-couple had in October of 2007 via a surrogate. Mazel tov!
Listing information shows the Mister Harris and Burtka’s new crib was built in 1991, measures 4,286 square feet and sits on nearly one-third of an acre on a canyon road that backs up to the rugged and rustic Stone Canyon Park. While Sherman Oaks may not be the high-glam locale many imagine when they think about Tinseltown types, it’s actually chock-a-block with famous folks who don’t care to deal with the paps snapping their pictures while they buy tampons Ralphs or chow down on an extra-large frozen yogurt at Menchies. Celeb residents within stroller-pushing distance to the Harris-Burtka family home include rocker-momma Pink and Corey Hart, Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory), Wayne Brady (host of Let’s Make a Deal), Michael Chiklis (The Shield, No Ordinary Family) and singer Debby Boone.
While we will say with sincerity that many of the main rooms of the Harris-Burtka home open up nicely to the backyard for easy-peasy indoor-outdoor livin‘, we’re also going to say in all sincerity this is a shockingly vanilla piece of suburban architecture. This hulking gray-shingled beast certainly has no aesthetic appeal to Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter but given Mister Harris’s previous choices in homes, it’s really not a surprise that he’d gravitate towards and spend more than two-million to purchase a classically banal suburban structure that says little more architecturally than, “Please. No. Please don’t look at me. I just can’t bear to be looked at.” For chrissakes, children, somebody thought it was a good idea to tack on a useless damn bay window on the street facing façade of the side-facing two garage. Who does that? No, child, no.
Anyhoo, lots of doors and doorways encircle the foyer and stair hall that acts as the primary traffic hub of the two-story house. Just past the powder pooper, a step-down formal living room has deep mocha-colored hardwood floors, a fireplace and windows on three sides including a bank of French doors that lead to the backyard. The adjacent dining room has wainscotting detailing around the walls and French doors that swing open to a deck that extends off and wraps partially around a portion of the back of the house. The family-sized eat-in kitchen–a well-equipped but unremarkable affair–is open to an intimately scaled family room area that, like the dining room, has French doors that open to the deck that steps down into the backyard.
The upstairs bedrooms include three that share one bathroom, a fourth with private pooper and and a fifth, the master suite that includes a private bath with spa tub, walk-in closet and a private balcony that overlooks the backyard. A sixth staff bedroom with private facilities is located on the main floor.
The deck that extends off the back of the house steps down into the grassy backyard that’s ringed by thick and tall trees that ensure privacy and plenty of work for a hunky pool man in a skin-tight tank top who Your Mama recommends the Misters Harris and Burtka have come by three times a week to fish leaves out of the pool. At the center of the yard is a small swimming pool with flagstone coping and off to one side a trellis-shaded built-in barbecue area lends itself to summertime grilllin‘ and chillin‘ by the pool. There is not, as far as we can surmise, a spa on the property, a real estate deal breaker for the Doctor Cooter who loves little more than to whittle away work week evenings in a big vat of near-boiling water with a man-sized glass of merlot.
In an era when reality television stars too often buy glitzy four million dollar homes they won’t be able to afford in a year or two, we applaud the Misters Harris and Burtka for their impressive real estate restraint. No doubt these gays can afford to live in a far more fabulous house in a much swankier area of Los Angeles. Instead they opt for humdrum houses in very quotidian if not inexpensive areas of the city, a smart move that ensures they will be able to afford their family home in the unlikely event that Mister Harris’s career goes belly up.
UPDATE (Later same day): A number of The Children brought to our attention a previously published photo of the Mister Harris and Burtka’s new digs that show the couple worked some of that ol’ gay decoratin’ magic on the exterior but a photograph that Mister Burtka–who is a chef–tweeted of the spread they laid out on Super Bowl Sunday indicates that they’ve done little to nada in the cooker.
listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty