Originally published on Advocate.com March 06 2004 1:00 AM ET
On assignment for an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Thom Filicia did a great job redecorating the lower east side apartment of New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley and his wife. But as reported in the New York Post's Page Six, the Times cried foul, classifying the $50,000 redecorating job as a conflict of interest. The Times forbids gifts worth more than $25. Moreover, culture reporter McKinley has occasionally covered Winfrey.
Appearing on a February 24 Oprah episode titled "The Gorgeous Men of Decorating," McKinley and his wife, Lindsey, told how Filicia had provided their apartment with a new fully stocked bar, a full set of stemware and glasses, a sofa, a table, and window treatments, along with refurbished paint and mirrors. McKinley got the makeover free because it was part of the show--until his bosses at the Times found out. Although McKinley was reportedly first told to pay the entire estimated makeover value of $50,000, a spokesman for the Times told Page Six that the Winfrey staff had confirmed a discounted sum that McKinley will now be required to pay. The spokesman added, "We have discussed with Jesse McKinley his appearance with his wife on the Oprah Winfrey program, and we are satisfied that any violation of our policy was unintentional."