by Sandi Ionelli
For about eight months now, I’ve been birthing — yes, birthing (I don’t have kids, so these TV shows become my babies) — a one-hour special called Change the World: American Heroes. I’m sure my friends and family can’t wait until it airs so I’ll stop talking about it, but it truly is my proudest moment as a supervising producer. Shameless plug: It airs THIS Wednesday at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central — it truly has the biggest makeovers ever, is a tribute to veterans with lots of heartfelt moments and has CARTER!
People ask me about host/carpenter, Carter Oosterhouse all the time. The most common question? “Is he as good-looking in person as he looks on TV?” I’m blushing while I write this, but YES, he is. This show was my first opportunity to work with him and I must say he has a lot more to offer than good looks! He’s a real carpenter and swung his hammer right along with the volunteers in Philly and St. Louis. “Hot” took on new meaning the weekend we were shooting in St. Louis, because of the record-breaking heat — it was over 105 degrees! Thank God the AC guys had already fixed the heating and air unit, so we could breathe easy, inside at least.
Normally, on renovating/design shows (or any show really) there’s a team of support people behind the scenes that you don’t see: crew, design assistants, prop people, tradesmen, painters, interns, production assistants, etc. For this show, if you look closely, you’ll see them all in their volunteer T-shirts. We wanted everyone that was working on the project to blend in, just like the Rebuilding Together volunteers, so we’d have a sea of red, white and blue throughout the show.
Yes, design happens on HGTV, but not without planning and prep. Designer Monica Pedersen (with some help from her assistant, Becky, and intern, Cullen) came up with a lofty plan for both houses. Monica was intent on using every penny to make the living areas come to life for these American heroes (she has a soft spot for vets because her dad was in the military). Best moment with Monica that ended up on the cutting room floor? We were shooting at the Liberty Bell when some Brownies/Girl Scouts recognized Monica, because their “mom watches HGTV all the time!” Monica chatted with them about their bedroom designs, then they all took a group photo — so cute.