HGTV Real Estate Stars Find Yet Another Home In Print | KERA News

HGTV Real Estate Stars Find Yet Another Home In Print

Dec 28, 2016
Originally published on December 29, 2016 8:54 am

You might think the secrets to HGTV stardom lie in real estate savvy or creative design. But for shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, it's that hard-to-find combination of charm and chemistry that turns hosts into stars.

"They're fun — they make you feel like you could be friends," says Maggie Winterfeldt, editor of PopSugar Home. "These are people that you actually relate to. They're not living in mansions; they're not driving Escalades. They live an attainable lifestyle."

This past year, some of HGTV's biggest names have also appeared on best-seller book lists.

Take, for example, "The Property Brothers," identical twins Drew and Jonathan Scott. "Drew is the most competitive man I have ever met in my life. Even if we are just going to the car he has to beat me," Jonathan says.

Drew is the real estate agent; Jonathan is the contractor. (It's worth noting that the Scott brothers are very good looking, but Winterfeldt says much of their appeal also lies in their good-natured sibling rivalry.)

"The Property Brothers are obviously very goofy," she says. "That's part of their whole shtick. What you see is what you get with them. They're really like that in real life ... and I think that comes across."

The Scott brothers had their own business in Canada. Then Drew got offered a job hosting a home improvement show. He pitched a show with his brother instead.

"We were originally actually pitched to HGTV in the U.S., and at first HGTV said: 'No, we don't think that fits with our programming right now,' " Drew recalls. But after HGTV turned them down, W Network in Canada bit: "Two young guys in tight jeans renovating? Yeah, we'll take that."

They now have five shows on or in the works for HGTV, and their book, Dream Home, is a best-seller. Jonathan Scott says the biggest challenge moving from screen to page was capturing their relationship in print. The Scotts may look and sound alike, but their unique voices and perspectives come through on the show.

"Trying to write a book with two distinct voices ... that was the trickiest thing, but I think we pulled it off and you still get that same fun, brotherly banter," says Jonathan.

If the Scott brothers have cornered the market on brotherly love, Chip and Joanna Gaines have wooed legions of followers with their seemingly idyllic life with their four children on a farm in Waco, Texas.

It doesn't hurt that the Gaineses still seem to be very much in love. Joanna is the quiet, down-to-earth one; Chip is the class clown who keeps her laughing.

The Gaineses have turned a homegrown contracting and design business into a personal empire. Their memoir, The Magnolia Story, is one of the best-selling books of the year — No. 3 on The New York Times nonfiction list — with 1 million books in print.

"The show and the book isn't just about fixing up houses," says Matt Baugher, senior vice president at Thomas Nelson, one of the oldest and largest Christian publishing companies. Baugher says the company's mission is to "inspire the world." He believes the Gaineses' story — how they met and how they built their business — is inspirational.

"In a culture and society where we're bombarded with so much negativity, I think we're all drawn to someone who is authentic in every way and shows that you can combine your life's passion with joy and hard work," he says. "And also, yes, they are people of faith, but they don't lead with faith. It just happens to be part of who they are."

But the Gaineses' faith drew unwanted attention recently when an article in BuzzFeed pointed out that their church takes a strong stand against homosexuality. HGTV released a statement saying that it does not discriminate against members of the LGBT community. Baugher says the Gaineses support that statement, though they have not said anything publicly. So far, Baugher says the controversy has not affected sales.

"I just got sales numbers in for last week, and the numbers that I saw are the biggest numbers that I've seen yet for them," he says.

Both the Gaineses and the Scott brothers have plans in place for more books in the future.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Some of this year's best-selling writers are better known for their way with tools than words. They are stars on HGTV, the network that shows us how to buy, sell and fix up our homes. NPR's Lynn Neary looks at their transition from TV personalities to authors.

LYNN NEARY, BYLINE: The secret of the success of two of the most popular shows on HGTV - "Fixer Upper" and "Property Brothers" - isn't just real estate savvy and creative design. It's that hard-to-get combination of charm and chemistry that turns mere show hosts into genuine stars, says Maggie Winterfeldt, editor of POPSUGAR Home.

MAGGIE WINTERFELDT: They're fun. They make you feel like you could be friends. And these are people that you actually relate to. They're not living in mansions. They're not driving Escalades. They live an attainable lifestyle.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "PROPERTY BROTHERS")

DREW SCOTT: This is a gem of a property right downtown, and I think that Vincent and Helena will love the fact that there is lots of privacy.

NEARY: The Property Brothers are identical twins Drew and Jonathan Scott.

JONATHAN SCOTT: Drew is the most competitive man I have ever met in my life. Even if we're just going to the car, he has to beat me.

D. SCOTT: Yes.

NEARY: Drew's the real estate agent. Jonathan's the contractor. It's worth noting that the Scott Brothers are very good looking. But Winterfeldt says much of their appeal also lies in their good-natured sibling rivalry.

WINTERFELDT: Well, the Property Brothers are obviously very goofy. That's part of their whole shtick. You know, what you see is what you get with them. They're really like that in real life. And it's genuine, and I think that comes across.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "PROPERTY BROTHERS")

J. SCOTT: We have a realtor present (laughter).

D. SCOTT: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hey.

D. SCOTT: How goes the work?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Just getting started.

J. SCOTT: Yeah, actually - good timing. You can actually pitch in for once.

D. SCOTT: Oh, I'm wearing my nice clothes right now. I don't think I can get it dirty.

J. SCOTT: Well, do you...

NEARY: The Scott brothers had their own business in Canada, then Drew got offered a job hosting a home improvement show. He pitched a show with his brother instead.

D. SCOTT: We were originally actually pitched to HGTV in the U.S. And at first, HGTV said, no, we don't see that a fit with our programming right now. And then there was a network - W Network in Canada - that said, two young guys in tight jeans renovating - yeah, we'll take that.

NEARY: They now have five shows on or in the works for HGTV, and their book "Dream Home" is a bestseller. Jonathan Scott says the biggest challenge moving from screen to page was capturing their relationship in print.

J. SCOTT: This is Jonathan. The hardest thing was trying to have the same thing that we do in the show, where there's two voices.

NEARY: And this might be a good moment to mention that not only do the Scotts look exactly alike. They also sound exactly alike.

J. SCOTT: So trying to write a book with two distinct voices - 'cause we do not agree on everything. We have our own opinions. We have our own...

D. SCOTT: Yeah, Jonathan's wrong with a lot of things.

J. SCOTT: (Laughter) Yeah. So that was the trickiest thing, but I think we pulled it off. And you still get that same fun, brotherly banter.

NEARY: If the Scott brothers have cornered the market on brotherly love, Chip and Joanna Gaines have wooed legions of followers with their seemingly idyllic life with their four children on a farm in Waco, Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FIXER UPPER")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: I want to do it by myself.

JOANNA GAINES: Is it turning into snow, guys?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Not really but kind of.

J. GAINES: Oh, it feels like snow.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Look at all this.

NEARY: And it doesn't hurt that the Gaines still seem to be very much in love. Joanna's the quiet, down-to-earth one. Chip's the class clown who keeps her laughing.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FIXER UPPER")

CHIP GAINES: What's your name again?

J. GAINES: J. (ph).

C. GAINES: It's nice to meet you. Casting did a heck of a job making it look like we knew each other.

J. GAINES: (Laughter).

NEARY: The Gaines have turned a home-grown contracting and design business in Waco into a personal empire. And their memoir, "The Magnolia Story," is one of the bestselling books of the year, number 3 in The New York Times nonfiction list with a million books in print.

MATT BAUGHER: The show and the book isn't just about fixing up houses.

NEARY: Matt Baugher is senior vice president at Thomas Nelson publishing company. It's one of the oldest and largest Christian publishing companies, and Baugher says its mission is to inspire the world. He believes the Gaines' story - how they met, how they built their business - is inspirational.

BAUGHER: In a culture in society where we're bombarded with so much negativity, I think we're all drawn to someone who is authentic in every way and shows that you can combine your life's passion with joy and hard work. And also, yes, they are people of faith, but they don't lead with faith. It just happens to be part of who they are.

NEARY: But the Gaines' faith did draw unwanted attention recently when an article in BuzzFeed pointed out that their church takes a strong stand against homosexuality. HGTV released a statement saying that it does not discriminate against members of the LGBT community. Baugher says the Gaines' support that statement, but they have not said anything publicly. So far, Baugher says, the controversy has not affected sales.

BAUGHER: I just got sales numbers in for last week, and the numbers that I saw are the biggest numbers that I've seen yet for them.

NEARY: And both the Gaines and the Scott brothers already have plans for more books in the future. Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.