One can not escape the phenomenon that is “reality” television. Whether it be channel surfing while bored or thumbing through a magazine and seeing famous “reality stars,” reality television is everywhere, and every show tries to be bigger and better than the next. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” presents itself like it is different than the rest of the “reality” television programs, and for the most part, it is. But, there are a few tidbits that make it just like the rest of reality television, and some behind-the-scenes details that many do not know.For those who do not know, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is a program on ABC that usually plays every Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. It is a spin-off of the series “Extreme Makeover,” which involved a person having a massive makeover done to their body. However, in “Home Edition,” a family’s house is getting the makeover, not a person.
The general layout of the show starts with the host Ty Pennington, former carpenter on the TLC program “Trading Spaces,” meeting the family whose house is getting remodeled. He goes and walks throughout their house to get some inspiration as to what type of design techniques to incorporate throughout the house. The audience also finds out why the family’s home is getting redone. Normally, there is some type of special circumstance that has occurred, such as a tragedy or an illness in the family. After finding out the reason, Pennington then tells the family they are going on a vacation for a week somewhere, usually an island or Disney World, while he and his crew of workers rebuild the family’s house.
The time it takes to knock down the house and completely rebuild it is approximately five to seven days. Pennington, his crew, and the community volunteers completely demolish a house and start from scratch to rebuild it. From there, the house is slowly built, with volunteers moving furniture and accessories into the house.
Finally, the day comes when Pennington brings the family to their new and improved house. One or two buses hide the house so the family can not see it, and they move when Pennington yells “Move that bus!” From there, viewers are able to see the house as Pennington shows the family around. At the end, a secret room or project is always presented, sometimes a child’s bedroom or a home office.
On Friday, March 9 thru Wednesday, March 14, the Kilgallon family of Levittown, Pa., a small suburb roughly 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, was able to be a part of the glamour as their house was redone by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
The house is located in the Cobalt Ridge development, and the street was completely blocked off. The sidewalks were barricaded so bystanders could watch, standing across the street from the house. The town had shuttle buses leaving from the Oxford Valley Mall to the building site, as well as having donation and “fan wear” tents set up throughout the development. The Kilgallon family consists of a single mother and her four sons, the oldest being 12 and the youngest being four. The father is allegedly abusive, so he is not living in the home. The Kilgallons bought a house in Cobalt Ridge that was condemned with termite damage. The house was going to fall apart, so they had to move out and into the mother’s parent’s house. All five members of the family sleep in the dining room.
The crew that worked on their home was Paul DiMeo (carpenter), Eduardo Xol (landscaping), Preston Sharp (exteriors and big ideas) and Tracy Hutson (interior design). Many fans were watching outside the house all week to try to catch a glimpse of Pennington, but to everyone’s disappointment, he was in St. Louis, Mo. for the week and did not come to the house until the final day. Some fans were upset that he was not there and were wondering how they would film the beginning part of the show, when they demolish the house without him there. Other admirers, though, were more excited.
“I do not mind Ty, but I adore Paul,” resident Elissa Tedesco stated. “I’ve been camping out here all week, and Paul has been posing for pictures with fans. I think that is really cool when a famous person does that.”
But, there were a few occurrences where, to the public eye, it seemed as if the crew from the show did not do as much as the show perceives them to do. For instance, DiMeo came out in front of the house with a hammer, and photographers took pictures of him for roughly 10 minutes while he posed, pretending to hammer the house. After the photographers were done, he walked off of the house property to go back to his trailer. This made various community members feel as if the show really is staged.
A cool thing about the process was that the two houses next to the “Extreme” house as well as the three houses across the street were unoccupied for the time that the house was done. The sponsors and ABC put the people occupying those homes up in a hotel room for the week in exchange for the crew and volunteers to use their homes for the bathroom and kitchen, and those people were also paid to do this. The lawns of those homes were destroyed from people constantly walking on them and from the tents and barricades, so the sponsors are also paying to have those lawns redone.
Another thing that is interesting is that it actually does take roughly a week to get the house complete. The contractors and crew are on the clock from the moment they begin the project. It is set up into four six-hour shifts, and when they are not working, they go back to their hotel to sleep.
The Kilgallons moved into their home Thursday, March 15 after the barricades, trailers and other equipment were removed. There has still been traffic in their development since they have moved in from passersbys stopping their cars in front of the house to catch a glimpse. Take a day trip to view the new home or tune into ABC on Sunday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m. to see their new home.