James Harris on Million Dollar Listing L.A.’s Dinner Party Duel
Photo by Tommy Garcia/Bravo
The heat is always on in the Southern California real estate market pressure cooker. But last week, things bubbled over on the Season 8 premiere of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. Partners James Harris and David Parnes had staged an exclusive dinner party for a select group of high-end buyers and local agents. But when uber-aggressive competitor Josh Altman dropped in unexpectedly, the tone of the evening changed.
With two offers on the table, Altman took it upon himself to tell Harris and Parnes’ guests that the property was priced to high. During a one-on-one interview we asked Harris how upset he was when Altman made the damaging statement. “Pissed off is an understatement,” he conceded. “But you know what, it’s so expected. It really is.”
After all, Altman has been stepping on toes since Season 4 of MDLLA. And even though Harris and Parnes just joined the show last year, they’ve got his number. “I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Harris remarked. “The second I saw him I knew he was there to ruin that party and he wasn’t going to stop until he did. Some [agents] were there to negotiate for their clients but he was there to screw up our evening.”
And while it made for great TV, Altman’s move derailed an event that Harris and Parnes carefully crafted. “We had put in so much time to make sure that that was the perfect evening and our buyers would be at that dinner,” explained Harris. “We received two offers, which were all cash before we even sat down to dinner and I just couldn’t believe [it] when he showed up.”
Harris acknowledged that Altman’s seemingly bloodthirsty move isn’t typical of the other agents he’s dealt with since he and Parnes moved from London to L.A. “We have healthy competition and I believe success breeds success,” acknowledged Harris. “I like to hang around my competition so that it can motivate me to do better. I would call this unhealthy competition.”
But he noted that Altman isn’t like everyone else, adding, “The guy really hasn’t got anything good to say about anyone and he doesn’t hide it. If that’s how he wants to behave, that’s on him. I try not to behave like that.”
There is one Million Dollar Listing co-star that Harris does have a good relationship with. “I absolutely adore Josh Flagg,” Harris gushed. “He is completely nuts. He has the funniest sense of humor out of most people I know and he reminds me of my friends in London. He speaks exactly as he feels. He’s not scared or ashamed to say what he’s thinking. And he’s just a great guy with a good heart, a good soul. He’s somebody I consider a really good friend.”
Of course, Harris’ best friend is his business partner Parnes. On the day we spoke, David had just announced his engagement and James confirmed that he was going to be the best man at the wedding. “I’ve already got my speech prepared in my head,” he revealed, “Everyone except David is going to think it’s amazing because I grew up with him.”
It’s that life-long bond that is the foundation of their partnership. “It’s great in so many ways because there’s a trust that can never be broken. And I know that he has my back 150 percent. To have that in business, there’s no amount of money, there’s no amount of anything that could replace that,” Harris said.
“And so it doesn’t matter if we fight, we fight. You know, if we disagree, we disagree. I like to call it a discussion,” commented Harris. “But we’ll always come back together and make up and hug it out and move on with our lives. Which I think is so important because you hear so many businesses fail and partnerships fail because someone screwed the other person over or they just ended up blowing up. That will not happen with David and I. No matter what it will not happen. And if it got so bad, I’d certainly get a call from my mum and he’d get a call from his mum and back together we’d be.”
If only they could get their mums to give Josh Altman a ring. Tune in to Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles tonight to see how things turn out at the dinner party battle of the century. The show airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on Bravo.