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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Mackenzie Phillips and Peter Walsh get rid of the 'Clutter'
TELEVISION Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2011-12-28

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Peter Walsh is back with a second season of his show, Extreme Clutter. Our favorite out organizational guru is heading to Mackenzie Phillips space to see what he can dig up. What he finds may shock viewers as the former One Day at a Time star comes clean about her past of family problems and drug use.

Mackenzie Phillips is the daughter of John Phillips, singer from The Mamas & the Papas and half-sister to actress Bijou Phillips and singer Chynna Phillips. She first came into prominence with the film American Griffti and has continued acting through the years in the Disney series So Weird and recently in an independent film called Peach Plum Pear.

Australian author Peter Walsh has appeared many times on The Oprah Winfrey Show along with his own show on TLC called Clean Sweep.

We talked Nunn on Two with them both about the process of letting go of the past for the new year.

Windy City Times: Hello, there!

Mackenzie Phillips: Hello, my Tweet buddy!

WCT: I tweeted you both before I called. Peter, you are such a trooper calling in from Australia.

Peter Walsh: Yes. You may have heard of it. It is a little country in the Southern Hemisphere. [ Laughs ]

WCT: Are you there for the holidays?

Peter Walsh: My partner and I are here for two months. We decided to do a house swap this year. All of my family is here in Melbourne and we had a friend that we switched homes with. We are here living like locals, which is very exciting. If it were not for the difficulty of avoiding kangaroos on the road and koalas falling out of trees, it would be a very nice experience.

WCT: How long have you been together with your partner?

Peter Walsh: We have been together nearly 15 years. We were one of the lucky few able to get married during that window of opportunity in California.

Mackenzie Phillips: They are a lovely couple, Jerry.

Peter Walsh: Ohhh, Mac, you make me blush!

WCT: Have you both talked much since filming the show?

Peter Walsh: It is quite surprising. I didn't expect to love Mackenzie Phillips as much as I did. She is a surprisingly, loving, charming, honest, direct person. We hit it off well. One thing I love about her is that she threw herself into this without any kind of artifice. We bonded very quickly. We have spoken a couple of times since then but the problem is when we start talking neither of us can shut up! We have to avoid each other or jeopardize our time for the rest of our lives.

Mackenzie Phillips: Peter and I have never run out of things to say to each other. When this all went down Peter's trepidation was about coming into a celebrity's home that would be about protecting a brand or image instead of being a part of the process. I am not that kind of a person. Here I am warts and all. My whole point was to get my home in order with someone amazing like Peter but also to show other people who might be in the same type of situation I am in. I hope people can identify what is going on in our homes and how things get out of control.

Peter Walsh: The client has to be present. It can't work if the person doesn't bring himself/herself to the process and commit. I'm suspicious of working with celebrities because of the brand that comes with them. On this, you see a person who has lost her way and you see her working through a whole lot of issues. I think that is what makes this episode so compelling.

Mackenzie Phillips: I wept when I saw the episode because there was my beautiful son, Shane, standing there and my good friend, Peter, as well. I think people will get a lot out of this. Watching someone deal with the leftovers from a lifestyle where the clutter of the lifestyle is still in the home. It was redemptive for me.

WCT: It's interesting that you studied psychology, Peter.

Peter Walsh: It is important to say that I am not a psychologist and not an addiction specialist. I do have a master's in education and [ educational psychology ] . I have worked in health promotion and corporate training so I bring many things to the table. I only bring two things to the process. One is a helping hand and two is I am mirror. I reflect for the client their reality. I have an honest, direct, and uncompromising way. Me and Mackenzie had our moments…

Mackenzie Phillips: I was ready to rip your throat out!

WCT: I know what part you are talking about…

Peter Walsh: I am at my most direct when the client won't advocate for themselves. I was fighting for her at that moment, so I wanted her to respond in kind.

Mackenzie Phillips: When Peter takes a dusty box out of the cupboard it wasn't staged. People ask why I would put it on TV but it is to encourage others to change their lives. I am a big advocate for abuse survivors and LGBT youth. I just did a NOH8 photo shoot with Adam Bouska and know what it is like to be bullied. There were a lot of cruel jokes after my book came out. I feel like if I can make any kind of difference on any level then I am going to do it.

WCT: Who reached out to whom to get this episode going?

Mackenzie Phillips: My agents were contacted so I went around and took iPhone pictures of my closet and my garage. When I did the Oprah Show for the publication of my book, High on Arrival, Harpo sent a crew out to my house and they could see there was an issue with clutter. I think it might have come from that.

Peter Walsh: One of the important things to understand here is the physical clutter was not overwhelming. In many cases on this season it is like the name suggests—Extreme Clutter. In Mackenzie's case, clutter is anything that gets between you and life you want to be living. It can trigger things emotionally such as memories from the past and can impede your growth as a person. This risked dragging Mackenzie back to a point in her life that she did not want to return to. This centered around her life as an addict and you see that in a way that I don't think anyone has seen played out on TV before. For me, that is what makes this show so different and interesting.

Mackenzie Phillips: When I wrote High on Arrival I knew I would be suffering some severe backlash but I also knew I couldn't be the only one who led this type of life. It was the same thing with doing Extreme Clutter. So many people are protective of their secrets. I thought part of opening myself up to the world was going to the next step was to open up my home. I hope people can get the same thing from clearing out their homes from emotional and physical clutter.

WCT: For the new year I think it is important for people to start doing that.

Peter Walsh: I think with the timing of the show that aspect is absolutely perfect. I think every single person if they stop for a second has something in their lives that is a stumbling block to them getting to where they want to be. I think LGBT in particular can come with a lot of clutter from their past and identify with this. Whether it is a relationship, an attitude, or habits, I think all of us have that.

I think the show models ways about being honest about that and moving to another level. I think Mackenzie looks different at the end of the show than at the start. You see an internal transformation that is reflected in the way she looks. That is the reason I do this show for that moment.

Mackenzie Phillips: The gift from the show is that when I am doing laundry it will go upstairs and not on a table. Now I have a place to put everything. It has been six months since we filmed and I have kept up with it. It has been a life lesson and incredible.

WCT: Do you want your relatives to see it?

Mackenzie Phillips: I hope they will see it or someone will tell them about it, but baby steps. I know people that come out to their families or come out about abuse and they are still bullied by people that should be loving them. It is an ugly equation of the human condition.

Peter Walsh: I think you have to believe that honesty will win out.

WCT: It was great to see your son Shane supporting you on the episode, Mackenzie. You will be with him on the holidays?

Mackenzie Phillips: All day we will be watching basketball on Christmas Day right here in our beautiful house!

WCT: Did you watch Dancing With the Stars?

Mackenzie Phillips: I have watched it for years and supported Chynna on Twitter. I was so sad to see her go. I know what it is like to lose your way; that happened to me on Broadway in the musical Grease. I was standing there thinking some bozo has forgotten their line and then realized it was me! I am so proud of Chy. I am not in contact with her but would love to be. I support her from afar.

WCT: Would you ever want to do the show?

Mackenzie Phillips: In a heartbeat!

Peter Walsh: And I would rather shoot myself in the head… [ Everyone laughs. ]

This episode of Extreme Clutter premieres Jan. 2 on the OWN Network. Visit www.oprah.com/own for listings and details. Check out Peter's new app to work on your own home at peterwalshdesign.com .


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