New York -- In a master stroke, Home & Garden
Television has lined up home-improvement guru Bob Vila to do his first-ever original cable
series -- a weekly primetime show called Restore America, which will premiere on
the Fourth of July -- officials said at HGTV's upfront presentation here last week.
Vila's show is one of 10 new original series that HGTV will
add to its lineup, with most of them set to debut in the fall.
In total, HGTV plans to add more than 1,500 hours of new
original programming in the 1999-2000 season, spending in excess of $50 million, officials
said. HGTV also has 70 original specials and new episodes of 50 current series slated for
the new season.
In Restore America, Vila will take HGTV viewers on a
yearlong tour of restored historic buildings, neighborhoods and gardens across the nation.
The half-hour show will visit a different state each week for a year, starting this July 4
and culminating in a special programming event July 4, 2000.
The first episodes of Restore America will feature
visits to historic locations in Florida such as St. Augustine, Tampa and Key West, as well
as sites in Texas and Arizona.
Last year, HGTV decided that it wanted to do a series on
restorations for the turn of the century, according to Burton Jablin, the network's senior
vice president of programming and production, but it didn't have a host in mind for the
At one point, Judy Girard, senior vice president of
programming and content development for HGTV's parent company, Scripps Networks, put
Jablin in touch with Vila's representatives, and they met here late last year, Jablin
At the session, Jablin said, he mentioned the restoration
show to Vila, "and we could see Bob just light up."
In terms of the rest of HGTV's schedule, the network is
incorporating more "informational escapism" programming into primetime, rather
than its traditional how-to shows, Jablin said.
"We're moving toward lifestyle programming, rather
than hardcore how-to [in primetime], especially since we're launching the Do-It-Yourself
network this year, " he added.
How-to shows will continue to be a mainstay during the day
and on weekends.
HGTV's new series include: Curb Appeal, in which
guest experts explain how to do small changes to enhance the value of a home; Design
Basics, a primer on decorating principles; From the Ground Up, which shows
landscaping experts taking on various projects; Lofty Ideas, which profiles how
historic buildings have been transformed into living spaces with lofts; Trash to
Treasure, about how to transform junk into decorator finds; and The Secret Gardens
of , which visits private and public gardens across the country.
Trash to Treasures and Design Basics are set to
air during HGTV's "Design at 9" weeknight block from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Among the specials that HGTV has planned are: Farm
Houses, where host Marcia Brandwynne explores farmhouses across the country; Sitcom
Style, where set designers from top-rated shows such as Frasier and Everybody
Loves Raymond describe how the sets reflect the show's characters; Soap Pads,
which visits the homes of soap-opera stars; and Palm Beach Palaces, which offers
tours of the palatial homes of Palm Beach.