Mike Holmes (aka @Make_It_Right on Twitter) and Tom Forman join me in second segment of show today to talk about the new Fox reality series, debuting tonight: “HomeFree.” (#HomeFree on Twitter.) I love the premise of the show, and even lobby them to put season two in, of course, Cleveland.
Little bummed I wasn’t a consultant to the show given my mastery of all things home improvement though.
HH: I want to give you a little good news. Perhaps the best reality show in a decade is on Fox tonight, and I’m a little bummed I wasn’t called by the producers of Home Free. And you can read about it, #HomeFree on Twitter, because most people know me as Johnny Radio, but some people know me as Johnny Craftsman. And Mike Holmes, you know from Make It Right, and Tom Foreman is the executive producer. And they have come up with the queen for a day meets make it right in an extraordinary new show tonight. Mike Holmes, Tom, welcome. So Mike, I could give you a few tips on home repair if you just ask.
MH: (laughing) What is it you specialize in?
HH: Well, I have a hammer, a screwdriver and a flashlight. What can’t be done with those three things?
MH: Well, you can do a lot with it, but you can screw up a lot with it, too.
HH: I want to know who was the most challenged couple on Home Free, because I see you’ve got eight couples, nine couples. They’re all going to end up with a house. This is an amazing show. But who was the most challenged, architecturally and home improvement wise?
MH: Wow, I mean, that’s a great question, because all the couples are so unique on their own. If I were to have to say, I would say Lauren and Josh. Yeah, Lauren and Josh.
HH: Oh, Tom, you had an opinion there. So you were watching this, and you said those people?
TF: Look, I watched the whole thing. These were, I mean, everybody was challenged, right? These are regular American couples who may have a little bit of DIY skill, because they go down to the home repair store on a weekend and try a project. But they did not know how to renovate a house, and it was Mike’s job to teach them over eight weeks.
HH: You know, that is such a fascinating idea. I want to know who came up with it. I myself have never been inside of a Lowes, Home Depot or anything like that. That is what making money is for, so I can hire Mike Holmes and Bud the Contractor and other people to do this. So how did you find your nine?
TF: Well look, we decided to make the show in Atlanta in part because, at least for this season, because it is a red hot real estate market. Prices have gone through the roof, and it has pushed out regular American homeowners who can’t scrape together a down deposit in these economic times. We went down to Atlanta and we started meeting with families that desperately needed a home, and picked people who had compelling stories, picked people who were really willing to give of themselves, do hard work knowing they might not win a house, because remember, they don’t know until the end that they do, and picked people that would take some direction from Mike, because he is not shy about giving them direction when they need it.
HH: Yeah, Mike, you are in fact, you could be a radio talk show host if you could just get a little more demeanor on. And I want to know, did you have any trouble hiding this from the people, that they were all going to be queen for a day at the end?
MH: Actually, no, I did not, because I knew what was going to happen, but I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag. I’m just going to be me right to the end and then reel them right back in to say hey, would you like to meet the deserving family that’s going to win this home, and turn it around and point to them.
HH: So it’s on Fox tonight at 9pm, 8pm Central, and I want to emphasize, you guys are giving away, there’s a great trailer, nine homes. So there are going to be nine people, nine moments, nine reveals in this series, once a week, where people who thought they were playing Survivor and had lost win the home. Is that right, Tom?
TF: That’s exactly right. Look, it’s the first show in history, and I’ve made a lot of different shows. This is the first one where everybody is a winner, and just when you think you’ve lost, when you’re at your absolute lowest, Mike gets to tell you in fact, you are the deserving family, you worked hard, you stayed up all night, you gave of yourself and you did something charitable and amazing, and that’s why we’re proud to give you this house. And people lose their minds.
HH: How many shows have you made, Tom?
TF: Oh, 100, 200. I’ve made a lot of shows.
HH: You’ve never made one about talk radio, have you?
TF: Not yet.
HH: I’m just saying, just pointing it out. Mike, how many homes have you worked on?
MH: Holy cow, thousands.
HH: You’ve never done anything in a radio studio, have you?
MH: No, I’ve done lots in a radio studio. How many radio shows have I been on? How many do I go in? I think I wouldn’t have a problem whatsoever. You know, maybe it could be the Hugh and Mike show.
HH: Well, I would teach you a lot if you’d be a willing learner. Tell me, where any of these people, did they get disgusted and come close to walking off the set of Home Free?
MH: I have to tell you the answer to that would be yes. If you watch tonight, you will get very much excited about just that.
HH: Oh, I think this is actually going to be a mega hit. And tell me, Tom, when you sold this up the chain, the idea of giving away houses, that’s got a little bit of a price point built into it. How long did it take to sell it? Or was Mike’s personality so well-known and so big they said okay, Tool Time meets Queen for a Day meets Survivor, we’re good?
TF: Right, it was a little of both. It was in no small part due to Mike. I think also, you know, look, it was summertime, I’m the father of four, we were thinking about feel good family entertainment, a show you could watch with your kids, a show that rewarded good people for doing good deeds, and this just made sense to Fox. And they took a risk on, you’re exactly right. It’s a very big show.
HH: Now I’ve got to ask you both, because my producer, Duane Patterson, and my engineer, Adam Ramsey, we all know this. Everybody’s a radio producer. Everybody knows how to do a radio show. Mike, is everybody a critic when it comes to your revisions of buildings? When they watch Home Free tonight, are they going to critique the choices you have these couples make?
MH: You know, I would have to say that probably 70% of the audience will. But at the same time, you know, when you look at it, if you really pay attention, you probably will agree with me at the end. But everyone has their own opinion as they’re looking at it. Is Mike being mean today? Oh, he’s being nice today. So it’s really hard to say who’s going to get it, how they’re going to get it, and how the end is going to look.
HH: All right, now Mike, not everyone is like Mr. Craftsman like me. They don’t know you. Tell them a little bit how you got to be Mike Holmes, and they can follow you on Twitter, @Make_It_Right. How did you come to be Mike Holmes?
MH: Well, I’ve been a little bit of a freak of nature when it comes to construction. I finished my first basement at 12 years old. My dad started really pushing me into the industry.
HH: That late, huh? That late?
MH: Go ahead?
HH: That late? It took you until 12 to finish a basement?
MH: Yeah, by the time I was 30, I guess I was about 35, I approached the network. I met somebody at the network that wanted me to build them a custom home. And to make a really long story short, he really wasn’t listening to me on the things that I was trying to teach him and what he needed from his home. He had it in his mind that he was hell bent, I know how to do this, I know how to do this. And then I got a little excited, and I said hey, you know what? This is just like the shows on your channel. I don’t like the shows on your channel. And I went off. I actually went off for about 30 minutes straight, and then I told him what type of show he needed. And lo and behold, they really pushed me to do it.
HH: Never stop thinking. So Tom, these nine couples, where did you get them? I mean, how do you find nine people? Everybody wants a house. I mean, I hope they’re middle class or lower middle class when it comes to economic ability, and very high class when it comes to gratitude.
TF: That’s exactly right. Look, they’re all people who desperately needed a home, who in my opinion and the opinion of everybody who’s watched the show, really deserved a home, and I think most importantly, were willing to work for it. It was not easy for them. It was eight weeks in the Atlanta heat. They were up all night. They were living on the job site. They had Mike riding over them like a task master. And if they could survive all of that, I feel really good about giving them a house.
HH: All right, second season’s got to be in Cleveland. That’s where the convention is, the Browns are there, the Indians are there. Have you figured out where second season is, yet?
TF: We are. It’s so funny you mention it. I have a meeting today with Fox to go in and talk about season two. I’m very excited.
HH: Look, Cleveland, they’ve got the convention, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, lots of great blue and white collar people. They could build it on the lake, the elements. Mike, you’ve never dealt with lake weather, have you? You’ve never built anything in the snow, have you, Mike?
HH: Have you?
MH: New Orleans, never mind Canada.
HH: New Orleans is nothing compared to Ohio. Mike Holmes, Tom Foreman, we’re watching tonight at 9pm, 8pm Central, #HomeFree. This is a super enormous big deal. Watch it tonight, America.
End of interview.