HGTV is one of the few networks taking a risk by debuting a new series during the Olympics, but at least it’s an offshoot of an existing hit: “HGTV Design Star All Stars.”
But it’s an oddly modest effort. It only features six past contestants and debuts a week after the finale of season seven. Why only six and why so soon after the regular “HGTV Design Star” just ended?
In an interview last week, Atlanta interior designer and HGTV judge Vern Yip didn’t have an answer for either question because these were decisions made above him. And the winner doesn’t get a very big prize: $25,000 and a guest spot on another HGTV show. There are no guarantees of their own show like the winners of “HGTV Design Star” – just publicity to perhaps boost their own interior design businesses.
Here are Yip’s thoughts on the six contestants:
Hilari Younger (season seven, third place): Wait — didn’t we just see her? Yes. In fact, I thought early on she would win but instead, she ended up in third. “It became pretty evident the further we were in the competition, she was somebody who had a really unique and special combination of talent and personality. She really feels comfortable being herself on camera. That’s invaluable. She is really funny.”
Kellie Clements (season six, fan favorite, fourth place): “The fans embraced her for good reason. She’s a really nice person. She has a lot of talent. She brings a perspective of being a mom.”
Leslie Ezelle (season six, sixth place): “She has a unique perspective. She’s an ex-Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, a breast cancer survivor and mom. It sharpens and hones her design skills.”
Dan Vickery (season four, runner up): “He came in second. It was a close battle between him and Antonio [the winner that season.] He came back with a lot to prove. He’s a super talented guy who has grown a lot.”
Tom Vecchione (season five, sixth place): “He’s a world-class architect. He works on major skyscrapers all over the world.”
“Sparkle” Josh (season two, fifth place): “Nobody is like him. He’s unique.”
“I loved having the opportunity to see their faces again,” Yip said. “I call it the Olympics of design.”
As for competing with that event, he noted, “I love the Olympics for sure. At the same time, there’s only so much Olympics I can watch. I want to watch something else. This is a great alternative!”
He said he was tougher as a judge because the standards were higher. “We’re definitely judging them as all stars.”
As for the previous season that just concluded last week, Yip seemed to be a little kinder than previous years. He said it was probably because the designs were simply better. “You look at the top four and it was anybody’s game. You’re splitting hairs,” he said.
Winner Danielle Colding provided HGTV a perspective they didn’t already have, he said. “She’s a major smarty pants,” he said. “She’s so travelled. That combination gave her a wonderful edge compared to other young designers.”
While she had trouble finishing challenges early on, she improved on her time management toward the end. “She was always her toughest critic,” Yip said. “Most great designers really are. We just saw her grow tremendously and improve. She excelled when she was able to express her individual point of view vs. a team setting.” Colding is guaranteed at least a pilot of a show.
Kind of like Kelly Clarkson on “Idol,” David Bromstead is the first winner and the most famous winner to date. As a result, he is now a mentor on the show. The season six winner Meg Caswell’s show “Meg’s Great Rooms” is already in its second season.
Yip is like the Randy Jackson of “Design Star.” He’s the only judge who has lasted the entire series. “I just feel old,” he said jokingly during the first episode.
“HGTV Design Star All Stars”
Tuesdays, 9 p.m. HGTV
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk