Bittersweet Finale to ‘Blush’

Bittersweet Finale to ‘Blush’
ABOVE: Nolan Robert. BELOW: (Top) Carter far left; Homme center, bottom; Lewit center, top; Maxi far right. (Bottom) Robert at work.
Photos courtesy of Lifetime TV 

Posted: Tuesday December 23, 2008

Nolan Robert Mourns Friend/Finalist While Celebrating Win

What should have been a celebratory time for the cast and crew of the reality show Blush: The Search for the Next Great Makeup Artist became a time of mourning instead. Todd Homme, the third runner-up, was found dead in his apartment on Dec. 13. Toxicology reports came back negative and the cause of death had not yet been determined at press time.

The Los Angeles-based show, which premiered Nov. 11 on Lifetime and ran for six weeks, featured nine make-up artists sharing a house and competing for $100,000, a contract with Max Factor and a shoot with InStyle magazine. The finale aired on Dec. 16. The final three contestants were Homme, Nolan Robert and Maxi (who used no last name). Their final challenge was to create three different make-up looks for a Badgley Mischka fashion show. From the arrows Maxi created on the models’ faces to the wayward eyebrow feathers Robert designed, the contestants weren’t afraid to express themselves. For each make-up look, the artists had a quick turn-around time. According to professional make-up artist Joanna Schlip, one of the show’s judges, they were given more time than they would get at a real runway show. (continued below)

“It [the make-up] has to be perfect and fast. You don’t have a lot of time to go back and redo,” Schlip said.

When she and fellow judge Hal Rubenstein, InStyle’s fashion director, visited the contestants backstage, Schlip looked for focus, direction and creativity in the make-up designs. Having the judges hover and critique wasn’t always easy for the contestants.

“Every critique that Charlie [Green], Joanna or Hal did, I just stood there, obviously in shock sometimes; as artists, we have our own point of view. Joanna was definitely in my head most of the time. ‘What would she think?’ I just have to learn from it without being angry or upset and apply it to the next contest,” said Robert. For the Badgley Mischka challenge, he said, “I really wanted to show the world and America what I could do in 10 minutes.”

When the fashion show finished and the judges cast their votes for the new make-up artist, Robert walked away the winner. Schlip said Robert had the overall package: the ability, the temperament, the discipline and the drive. The win became 33-year-old Robert’s Cinderella story.

“Things like this just don’t happen to me, and I finally made it after 10 long years,” he said.

According to Robert, the InStylephoto shoot for the Makeover issue will take place toward the beginning of the year. He will create a makeover and provide make-up tips and tricks. Robert is already working with Max Factor doing “lots of meets and greets.” It promises to be a heavy workload, and Robert looks forward to it.

“It’s going to be crazy; I hope it’s going to be chaotic. I like it,” he said. (continued below)

Todd Homme, 23, had a similar ambition and drive that Robert was inspired to see in someone so young. “He is a pure soul. I would want everyone to take from this [show] to be inspired by him as an artist and a human being especially,” Robert said of his best friend on Blush.

Fellow finalist Maxi said that Homme had a love for life and helped him “to become a better human. Todd was someone I wish I could be more like—full of life.”

According to Maxi, Homme was packing to move from New York to Los Angeles the weekend he was found dead. Homme had plans to convert an L.A. loft into a space where he and other make-up artists could teach make-up and provide scholarships to people who couldn’t afford a traditional make-up school. 

“We [the cast] were all going to teach at the school,” said Maxi.

Contestant Farah Carter has heard from several fans asking for tips on how to become a make-up artist. She says she is heartbroken that Homme’s school won’t happen now and feels the world was cheated out of that.

“He was so talented. He had such a flair for whimsical make-up that I hadn’t seen before in anyone his age,” said Carter.

Robert and fellow contestant Mo Lewit recounted how Homme would lighten the mood by putting on impromptu fashion shows using items from their shared house, such as lampshades and pool sticks. “We would yell ‘Do Dior!’ ‘Do Tyra!’ He would make a couture fashion show out of it; he had a natural ability for couture fashion make-up—a great understanding for it,” said Lewit.

Homme's love for life and ability to remain positive affected everyone involved with the show. Crew members told Schlip that if they were having a bad day, Homme would give them a hug. “He went out of his way to make someone’s day a little better,” said Schlip. “In a way, he was like an angel that came in.”

“He was so excited about what life had in store for him. He was so sweet. He wouldn’t judge a fly,” said Lewit.

Schlip enjoyed watching Homme’s happiness as he created the make-up for the fashion show. She said she could see him “go to another place in his head” and see that it was a joyful experience for him.

For the contestants, meeting one another was the best part of Blush. They learned new ways of thinking and made solid friendships. Carter and Lewit will start a side business next year creating a special bridal make-up and hairstyling event.

The night the finale aired, most of the cast and crew gathered at Saint Felix restaurant in West Hollywood to celebrate Homme. They watched outtakes of him from the show and shared their stories. “He was very happy to be in the final three and genuinely happy for Nolan to win it,” said Schlip.

Robert hopes to inspire other artists to follow their dreams, the way Homme inspired him and his fellow contestants. “You have to believe in your work. That’s what Todd was, he was a true artist,” he said.

A wake and funeral were held for Homme on Dec. 17 and 18 in New York. Participants said a second season of Blush: The Search for the Next Great Makeup Artistmay air next spring, although that was not confirmed at press time. Representatives from the Lifetime network declined to comment. 


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