‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ Inspiring to the End

Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington wants fans to know that despite the cancellation of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” this week after nine years and some 200 homes, “We are not gone–we’ll continue to do “EMHE” specials and I will always look for ways I can help people improve their lives.”  The passionate host (who told his story in Guideposts in 2008) reached out to the audience on his website, where he also called the show that has helped so many needy and noble families “the greatest job of my life.” 

Ty Pennington directs a gaggle of demolition-minded Santas on tonight's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" ABC photo by James Davidson

They’re going out in grand “EMHE” style. This week’s (12/16) episode features the design team, builders and volunteers creating a new home for the close-knit family of a Columbus, Ohio woman who is coping with a brain tumor. ‘Tis the season for festive high jinks, so there are also a couple dozen Santa Clauses in on the action, and super-sized candy canes used as battering rams.  Journey guest stars.

The finale episode will air January 13, with the team helping  seven families in Joplin, Missouri whose homes were destroyed by the deadly tornado that crushed much of that city last May.  

Ty, along with the rest of the team, has worked countless 14-hour days on the production he says is “all about long hours and getting dirty.”  He’s used to being so touched by the stories of love and sacrifice he’s heard through the years, he’s found himself with tears streaming down his face  again and again.  No wonder he said the show had become his life, and that he’d miss it when it came time to end.  (Its cancellation was due to ratings loss in the last couple of years.) 

 But Ty, especially, is certainly not going away.  He moves to daytime with the debut next month of ABC’s daily show, “The Revolution,” joining fashion guru Tim Gunn and fitness and nutrition expert Harley Pasternak.  They’re hoping to help viewers transform their lives in areas ranging from health to home design to personal finance.  “The Revolution” will also include a weekly weight-loss transformation feature.  Sounds like they’re taking pieces from several popular reality formats and rolling them into one.

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Matt Damon’s ‘We Bought a Zoo’  Uplifting Fare  for Families 

Matt Damon’s “We Bought a Zoo” hits theaters Dec. 23rd, bringing with it loads of advance applause not only from critics, but parents and faith groups, too. 

Matt Damon liked the idea of making a film his kids could go see 

Based on a memoir by Benjamin Mee, “Zoo” has Damon as a grieving widower struggling to raise his children on his own.  He uses his life savings to buy a dilapidated zoo full of exotic animals and sets about rebuilding the place, and his life.  Scarlett Johansson, sans makeup, plays the zookeeper attracted to Damon’s character,  and Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford and Elle Fanning are also in the cast. 

Crowe and Damon were both determined to get to the authentic emotional core of the story.  The filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter that he wooed Damon in part by providing him with a playlist of songs that evoked the kind of feelings he believed the film should have — songs including Don Henley’s “The Heart of the Matter” and Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain.”   

Damon was also attracted to “We Bought a Zoo” as a father in real life.  He found the story particularly poignant when he thought of trying to raise daughters Alexia, 13, Isabella, 5, Gia, 3 and Stella, 1, without his wife Luciana by his side.  As he put it: “The whole idea kind of gets to me now that I have a wife and kids.” 

Such themes as a family pulling together through hard times, and letting go of grief emerge amid laughter and tears brought out by a storyteller who has a knack for helping audiences stand a little taller by the time they leave the theater.

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Dogs’ Stories of Courage and Devotion Inspire New Awards Show

 The American Humane Association’s First Annual Hero Dog Awards brought out Hollywood celebrities including Betty White, Peter Fonda, Faith Ford and Julianne Hough.  But the real stars of the event — airing Nov. 11 on the Hallmark Channel — were Sadie, Zurich, Stacey Mae, Bino, Sage, Harley, Ricochet and the late guide dog Roselle, who led her blind partner, Michael Hingson, down 1,463 stairs to safety in Tower One of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Carson Kressley and Julianne Hough holding the Cesar spokesdog Hallmark Channel photo


Hosted by the ever-buoyant Carson Kressley, the gala event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s grand ballroom had its moments of silly comedy, and Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik performed.  It was the dogs’ stories that made the night memorable, however.    

“I love dogs and any event that we can honor these great creatures, as much as they do for us, I want to be there for them,” said “Melissa & Joey” star Joey Lawrence.  He presented honors to Emerging Hero Dog Ricochet — who surfs with special needs children and disabled adults.  Video of Ricochet’s story of finding her own calling after being released from a service dog training program went viral with 3.3 million views. 
 “Roselle was a great dog.  I’m just so, so happy she was honored,” Hingson said after the show.  “I loved her and I miss her so much.  I tell people that whenever someone wants in heaven, they ring the bell and she barks, telling St. Peter, ‘Better get that.'”