Here at HGTV, everyone is always talking about how awesome the “network talent” is. If, like me, you aren’t fluent in the language of production, “network talent” equals the stars you see on TV. Seriously though, it feels like every single person I encounter at the office has some story about the time they met Vern Yip or Sabrina Soto and they were “so nice and down to earth!” Well my friends, as of a recent shoot for HGTV Magazine, I am officially among those who can confirm that our “network talent” is pretty amazing. I had the chance to spend a few hours with Matt Muenster, star of DIY Network’s and HGTV’s Bath Crashers, and let me tell you, he totally lived up to the hype.
I’m famous for leaving interesting first impressions, and Matt was no exception. The night before the photo shoot, I went home early with a nasty cold, so he and my supervisor, Carol, figured I’d sleep all day and left the hotel without me the next morning. When I arrived downstairs at 8am dressed and ready to go, they had to turn around to get me. I hopped in the back of our rental car embarrassed, congested and a little afraid the celebrity in the passenger’s seat might be displeased about the detour. Instead of giving me a piece of his mind, however, he looked over his shoulder through his aviator shades and excitedly said, “You’re alive!”
We arrived on set and there was still a lot of prep work to be done, so we had plenty of time to sit around and get to know each other before the camera started flashing. I learned that Matt went to school at the University of Wisconsin and studied interior design (which is awesome because I go to the University of Cincinnati for the same thing). I then made the mistake of calling him “Matthew” — a mistake because it’s not his real name — the birth certificate clearly says “Matt.” Furthermore, his middle name is “J.” Not “Jay.” It’s “J.” He also has a brother named Andy. You guessed it. Just “Andy.”
All morning, Matt was full of jokes and was extremely low maintenance. The guy felt like everybody’s best friend. He was laughing all the time and disarming everyone with his big, genuine smile. He said, “I’m only here for a few hours, so I might as well be nice and have fun.” Though it was a total diva-free zone, he still had to get primped and polished by Lisa, the makeup artist. It was astounding how much time it took to get people camera-ready. Matt had to take what felt like a million pictures, with the photographer actually yelling things like “Work it! Make me love you!” Apparently those lines aren’t just reserved for movies. When it was all said and done, he still somehow found energy to take several goofball portraits with me.
At the end of the shoot, Carol, Matt and I hopped in the rental car and started the long drive back to the Philadelphia Airport, but before arriving, Matt admitted he had never had a real Philly Cheese-steak. Blasphemy. We ended up in downtown Philadelphia at Jim’s Steaks, we all ordered “a steak with whiz” (i.e. a giant bun, chopped steak and cheese-wiz), and though we were a little skeptical at first, it was so worth it. As Carol fiddled with the ATM machine inside after lunch, Matt and I jogged around on the sidewalk, laughing and taking pictures of the colorful store window displays on the street. With our bellies full, we made it to the airport, hugged our goodbyes and headed for security. He walked off to his gate waving and smiling like he was parting ways with an old friend. I waved and smiled back as I thought to myself, “Matt J. Muenster is one cool dude.”