Ty Pennington and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition shot the opening sequence of an upcoming show at the North Carolina Veteran’s Memorial in Broadway Saturday.
Sunday’s column appears below the photos
For a town of 1,100 people that considers itself “simple” on its Web site, Broadway sure became anything but simple over the past three days.
It all began Thursday when Broadway’s Town Manager Bob Stevens got the call from a producer from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition — yes, the very same Emmy-award winning show that draws about 13 million viewers each week — because they picked Broadway to shoot the opening of an upcoming show.
Apparently, the producers wanted an attractive memorial to veterans as the backdrop to the opening of this particular show. Each week, EMHE (that’s what we’ll refer to it as from here on out) picks a family — one that’s usually down on its luck and in need of a new home for important reasons — and tears down its home before building a completely new one. For this show, they’re rebuilding the home of Jeff Cooper of Jamesville — which is closer to Nags Head than it is Broadway. Cooper, a disabled veteran of the first Gulf War, and his family live in a run-down double-wide trailer. The show loved the setting of Broadway’s North Carolina Veterans Memorial Pavilion, which they chose over anything Fort Bragg had to offer … so I’ve been told … because of its design.
So on Thursday, Stevens was asked by the producers to perform a difficult task — don’t tell anybody about the show, but do all you can to get us a big crowd. The reason for the secrecy was Cooper hadn’t been informed of the big surprise, so the show didn’t want TV stations and newspapers “breaking” the news. That would happen Friday.
So on Thursday, Stevens called The Herald and informed Broadway’s town leaders — the mayor, the chief of police, etc. — of what was going down. Our paper was able to publish the story online at about 2 p.m. Friday (the embargo had been lifted), and it appeared in Saturday’s paper.
Through the limited media announcements and a lot of word-of-mouth, word did spread. And the result was a crowd of what appeared to me to be about 600 people (there was no official count, and I’m writing this before Erin Zureick’s story appears in the paper today).
About a third of the crowd consisted of war veterans, many of whom were dressed in uniform or wearing VFW hats, shirts or vests. The “Rolling Thunder” biker group (do we still call them gangs?) were well represented, and the rest of the group consisted of people who either a) wanted to “represent” for Broadway of b) wanted to see Ty Pennington up close.
Yes, Ty Pennington — the ultra hunky (and awfully tan) star of the show with a good heart and ripped abs — was there … but I’ll get to that soon.
Before Ty showed up, the show’s crew herded the crowd and spouted out orders for about two hours. The veterans were asked to march in a small parade twice (once for a rehearsal shoot), and the crowd was asked to cheer on command, even when all there was to cheer about was the amazing 70-degree weather. I suppose that’s reason enough to cheer.
At about the time a few people became tired of standing around, Mr. Pennington showed up, and little girls and older girls alike were happy (one of them asked Ty to take his shirt off, causing him to blush).
Ty was a nice mix of business and fun. He didn’t come off as stuffy or above it all — he’s done this probably more times than he can count, but he seemed thrilled to do it all the same. I saw him chat with a few bystanders between “takes” and sign a book and pose for photos with some of the vets.
What I found interesting — besides Ty Pennington’s tan — was how long it took to shoot what will probably be about three minutes of television. I was there for about four hours, and I even left before it was all done. EMHE doesn’t help its cause by using the big “camera on a crane.”
If you’re a fan of the show, then you know they really dig using the camera shot that pans over a crowd as it cheers, hoops and hollers. Well, that crane isn’t easy move, and most of the set-up was trying to tell people where to stand so they could be in the shot.
When it was all said and done, it was a great day for the Town of Broadway. For one day, the town’s population grew by about 50-60 percent, and I’m hoping some of those people took the time to visit some of the downtown restaurants or shops (I saw a few open) when the show was done. It was also a good chance for the town to advertising its first-ever festival — Broadway Our Way — coming in April.
And soon, the town will get its three or four minutes of fame when the sweeping crowd camera shows its people and it’s beautiful veterans’ memorial.
Not bad, considering four days earlier, the town had no idea this was coming.