Monday, April 4, 2011

Scott MacGillvray: How TV Made Him A Star

Most TV series have one new season a year.
Scott McGillivray and his Income Property have rushed through a second season.
"They wanted it," he says with aw-shucks delivery. "They" being HGTV Canada where Scott's series is now rated among the Top 3.
It wasn't always like this.
Three years ago when Income Property debuted it was considered a one season wonder. The series came in under the radar and its prospects seemed definitely limited.
McGillivray had designed the series to help first time homeowners pay off their often crippling mortgages by converting basements into apartments that could be rented out.
MacGillivray's good looks were immediately noticeable but so was his lack of on air TV experience.
All that has changed and the series and its star matured into a show everyone seems to be talking about.
When I first profiled the building contractor last fall I expected some reader response.
And I'm still getting it --Americans who watch on the U.S. version of HGTV are still commenting, an indication many are just tuning in for the first time to the series which has always aimed to provide solid information.
MacGillivray says it's always difficult to turn down potential guests but he has to do this all the time if he feels renovations simply won't improve a couple's financial situation.
Just the other day he had to tell a young couple that expensive renovations "did not make any sense. They didn't have the money and they'd still be up to here in debt. So I advised selling their home. They couldn't afford to keep it going."
And that's the difference between the Canadian shows on HGTV (including Property Virgins and Holmes Inspection) and the U.S. shows which frequently sport a buy-buy mentality, that same mentality which provoked the American housing crisis.
"We get a lot of requests to be on the show," concedes McGillivray. "Many don't fit the show's needs but I'm always there to offer them advice on what to do next."
To kick off the new season within a season there's an hourlong special Reno To Riches in which Scott goes back to past clients to see how they've fared with his renovations and to catch up on personal details. Not everyone has positive stories to tell --there's one classic tale of the renter from hell.
And next Monday he's back with the first new half hour --a visit with Martha and Darryl. Their back story is intriguing: the couple started renovating on their own but then spent over $30,000 at a fertility clicic in an attempt to have a child.
This is one of the times as Scott admits when he wished he had more than 21 minutes an episode to tell the story. "That's frustrating sometimes, sure."
Scott is also working with Mike Holmes on a new New York-based series All American Handyman. He said he'll return the day after we spoke to film two more episodes. It's a neat touch: two Canadian HGTV stars working with an American gang of handymen.
Now that Scott is getting the right kind of publicity his ratings and his popularity have predictably soared.
"In Canada when I'm recognized people are very respectful. In the U.S. they're more than friendly --they'll take photos, it's a different culture, I guess"


Anonymous said...

My sister and I are long time HGTV viewers and we have noticed a very distinct difference between the American and Canadian programs. The ones from Canada seem more down to earth, with some ending (Property Virgins) without the outcome you would expect. Maybe that has to do with the mentality of the two countries. I especially like Scott and also Sandra on Property Virgins because they seem to give sound advise and don"t sugarcoat the pitfalls some homeowners face.

Anonymous said...

I just have a quick comment. After watching 6 weeks of All American Handyman, I was very disappointed on the outcome. All six shows, you and Mike both said Jared makes bad things look good. I totally agree. I actually think it should have been Allison because she improved with each show. She was the hardest worker thru most of it and she seemed to take your advice week after week. Just had to get this comment off my chest.