Secrets of New York
Secrets of New York is the all time most recognized television program in the history of the New York Tri-State television market, having won 16 Emmy Awards since 2006 on top of over 50 Emmy nominations. It traditionally dominates the Emmys in the categories of writing, videography, editing and graphics, and to many television production professionals, the series has emerged as the new benchmark for local television production in the United States.
The series is a documentary program produced by NYC Media Group. In 2007, the show won six New York Emmy Awards, and in 2008 it took home five awards. Hosted by Kelly Choi, Secrets of New York airs on NYC TV, WNBC and on PBS stations nationwide. Secrets of New York has been recognized for its approach to the television documentary format. With digital graphics and animations, stylized recreations, heavy metal and electronica original and canned use of songs and musical scores, writing, and a compelling subject matter, the show has widely become the signature production of NYC TV. The first four episodes of the second season were sold on DVD through the City of New York's CityStore and audio podcast versions are syndicated on the National Public Radio (NPR) web site.
Secrets of New York was created by then-General Manager Arick Wierson in 2004. Wierson, believed that NYC TV needed an anchor for its lineup of New York lifestyle, historical and cultural programs. The initial season, sometimes referred to as the "lost season", was very different from subsequent seasons. The show was produced, written and directed by Kelly Choi and Philip Ng during the first season, for a total of five episodes, each of which were produced on average within a week each. The second season was rebooted and brought in producers Harry Hunkele and Buboo Kakati. Three specials were also created by Hunkele and Kakati and dubbed the third season. The fourth season was helmed by producer, Dean Irwin, after a soft-reboot in the Summer of 2011, which included new graphics, wardrobe (designed by Natalia Danilova), and music. Kelly Choi has hosted every episode of the series.
In 2006, the series was picked by NBC's flagship station WNBC for distribution on its digital station (WNBC 4.4) in the New York market. The show also aired on PBS stations across the United States in 2006 to 2007.
Choi took her character in a dramatically new direction in season two. Under the direction of Wierson and Hunkele, Choi was outfitted in a black vinyl overcoat and donned spiked stilettos. The show’s street location shoots around town became a self-serving grassroots marketing strategy for the program. Choi and shiny black fatigues inspired by the film The Matrix, quickly developed a following, especially among local media and gossip sites such as Media Bistro, Gothamist and Gawker. Bloggers speculated about hidden meanings in the show's graphics and props. Of particular interest was Choi's jewelry because, although her outfit is identical in every episode, she is always donning a different style of necklace. The producers, sensing that the show was on the verge of a cultural tipping point, interacted with the bloggers, egging them on by scanning in mysterious messages and codes onto Choi's jewelry.
Move to high definition
Secrets of New York began shooting in HD in early 2007, after WNBC ordered a special episode for its coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival. The last four episodes of the series were shot in HD, but were aired in SD.
- Secrets of New York Now Given Away Across the Nation, originally published in the New York Sun, May 11, 2007.
- City TV dons stilettos and vinyl, originally published in the Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2007.