Atlanta native Ty Pennington has been Mr. Fix It for eight years, rehabbing and rebuilding homes of families who need help on ABC’s inspirational “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
Cops paralyzed in the line of duty. Families with multiple special needs kids. Families where the dad and/or mom has a chronic illness. Families who run charity organizations but live in shacks.
With his trusty megaphone, Pennington spent most of any given year living out of a suitcase, traveling from Lena, Illinois to Lyme, New Hampshire, from North Pole, Alaska, to Waleska, Georgia.
The show ends its nine-season run tonight with its 200th episode in Joplin, Missouri, to build homes for families whose abodes were destroyed by last year’s tornadoes. (There will be unspecified specials down the road but this is the final regular season episode.)
“You have to embrace a carnival lifestyle. You have to give up things like plants,” Pennington said in an interview earlier this week from New York City. “But it was an incredible journey. I’ve been lucky to be part of it. It proves people with good hearts can change the world.”
Pennington’s “Extreme” gig may be over. But he’s jumped right back into the fray with “The Revolution,” a new talk show debuting on Monday, January 16, taking over the 2 p.m. slot from “One Life to Live.”
But instead of being on location all the time, he will get to go to a studio each day and help women transform their lives with fashion expert Tim Gunn, Atlanta sex therapist Tiffanie Davis Henry, fitness and nutrition expert Harley Pasternak and OB-GYN Jennifer Ashton.
Pennington’s expertise will be inspirational home design. “Good design can change your life,” said Pennington, who started his TV career on TLC’s “Trading Spaces” and left for Los Angeles in 2002. “And a lot of people don’t realize there are household items you can use to clean and repair at little or no cost. And you can create your own art.”
He said doing a talk show in front of a live audience is far different from taping segments on a TV show like “Trading Spaces” or “Extreme Makeover.”
“It’s about listening,” he said. “It’s about giving people enough space to finish their point before you start yours. We don’t want to be stomping each other verbally.” He said he has to learn to get to the point quickly.
And since this is a show geared to women, “it’s not every day you get to talk about breasts. That’s a subject I don’t mind talking about!”
His thoughts on a couple of his colleagues. Gunn: “You think he wakes up in a three-piece suit! But he’s not the fashion police. He may say to me, ‘I like the hat.’ But who knows if it goes with the shoes?”
And Atanta sex therapist Henry? “She’s straight to the point. She’s got that beautiful sassiness about her. I love her!” (If you get the print edition of the paper, check out my colleague Helena Oliviero’s profile of Tiffany Davis Henry on Sunday, January 15)
As a keepsake, he said he’s keeping his “Extreme Makeover” megaphone and who knows? Maybe it’ll show up on “The Revolution” one day!
“It’s like Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger.My megaphone is my Robin!”
“The Revolution,” 2 p.m. weekdays, ABC, starting January 16, 2012
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk