HGTV has brought back ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ 15 years after America fell in love with a group of designers who helped others.
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It’s time to “move that bus” once again.
“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” a monster hit for much of its 2003-12 run on ABC, returns Sunday (9 EST/PST) in a new home on HGTV, with Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”) replacing Ty Pennington as host.
As before, down-on-their-luck families are surprised with rebuilt (or substantially renovated) homes after a marathon weeklong transformation, and the elated families see the finished habitat only after the “Makeover” bus pulls away.
Ferguson, 44, says the timing is right for a “Makeover” revival, amid a nostalgia-fueled revisit of other reality series, from “The Biggest Loser” to “Wife Swap.”
“With all the news that’s happening in the world, so much negativity, a show like this that’s purely positive and softening borders and political lines is something we all can use right now,” he says. “I couldn’t look at this and ignore the human element of it, and the fact that this show is changing people’s lives.”
Mom Jessica and the Mosely family, the show’s designers and Jessie Tyler Ferguson see a new “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in Bakersfield, California. (Photo: Casey Durkin/HGTV)
In Sunday’s premiere, the Mosley family of Bakersfield, California, including three children once deemed “unadoptable,” gets a new home after their single mom loses her dad in a car crash. Next week, the Barobi family, Congolese refugees who settled in Ogden, Utah, after witnessing their parents and sister’s murders, get a 2,900-square-foot, six-bedroom home.
Ferguson admits he’s a newbie when it comes to home renovation, and juggled “Modern Family” with his hosting duties when “Makeover” was taped last August and September. “By having someone who’s not a carpenter and not a designer per se, who’s also there learning, a fish out of water (concept) presents itself with some interesting comedy and some levity. And I think you need those things in a show that has some poignant and dark, deep moments.”
In contrast to the ABC version, which featured more extravagant McMansions along with the tears, “We’re not giving people more than they need. You’re not going to see crazy playrooms, slides going into pools,” he says. The show is “changing people’s lives, but not people’s lifestyles. We don’t have the budgets to create these mansions.” (Sponsors Best Buy and Wayfair donate furnishings, replacing Sears in the original series.)
“The makeovers are dramatic, but that doesn’t mean the homes need to be enormous,” says Loren Ruch, HGTV’s group senior VP for production and development.
The original series – an unlikely spinoff of plastic-surgery focused “Extreme Makeover” – drew controversy when some families couldn’t afford the huge homes they were given, because of skyrocketing property taxes or utility bills; a few faced foreclosure.
In developing the revival, “it was something we talked about at every twist and turn,” Ruch says. “It’s a show where we’re celebrating families rather than exploiting situations, and we want to make sure we help their lives long after ‘Extreme Makeover.'”
Host Jesse Tyler Ferguson, designer Carrie Locklyn, and special guest designer Tamara Day (of HGTV’s “Bargain Mansions”) look on as designers Darren Keefe and Breegan Jane help David Wadman of Wadman Corp. raise a framed wall as construction begins in Ogden, Utah on a new home for the Barobi family on HGTV’s revival of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” (Photo: Casey Durkin)
So many of the new homes have “net-zero” energy costs thanks to solar panels and other design innovations that are “often cheaper than the rent they were paying.” The land underneath the Barobis’ new house was donated by the city, leaving no property taxes.
The original show was nicknamed “Tears for Sears” by ABC insiders, and they keep flowing in the revival. So did Ferguson cry? “Yes; it’s impossible not to,” he says. “I’ve gotten to meet people that I never would have come across. They’re such inspirations.” And he got especially emotional when “dealing with children (who) get to walk into their own room. It’s pretty powerful.”
He was especially surprised by the speed of the builds, which he assumed was faked through the “magic of television. The foundation is poured on a Monday, and by Saturday we’re moving furniture into the home, which is crazy. I was shocked that these are homes that are actually built in a week.”
Given its new berth on HGTV, known for home renovation shows, it’s a natural that guest stars include Tarek el Moussa, Tamara Day (“Bargain Mansions”) and Pennington, along with Anthony Anderson, Derek Hough, Laila Ali and LeAnn Rimes.
But what about HGTV’s favorite family, the Brady Bunch? Have they popped in with a hammer?
“Not yet,” says Ferguson, with a wink.
Here’s the story: Iconic ‘Brady Bunch’ home becomes reality as a ‘restoration of something that didn’t exist’
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