By Arienne Thompson, USA Today –
So, what’s the first thing people say when they see Ty Pennington in public?
” ‘Hey, can you fix my house?’ ” Pennington, 47, says with a laugh. “Or, occasionally I’ll get: ‘Hey, Ryan Seacrest!’ And, I’m like, ‘What?!’ ”
Such is the life of a man who has spent a dozen years in people’s living rooms — literally and figuratively — first as a carpenter on TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” then most notably as the feel-good guy on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
“There’s a lot of love for me out there,” he says. “I get a lot of hugs, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Pennington, who’s single, may need the warmth of an even tighter embrace now that “Extreme Makeover” is ending its run after nine seasons. But he’s not one to throw a pity party.
“We’ve helped over 200 families. Who can say that? Just hearing the fan reaction, about how supportive they are and the tweets talking about how we really have done something incredible, you realize that what we started here will continue in communities even after we’re gone.”
The “Extreme Makeover” finale ends on a hopeful note as Pennington and his “band of do-gooders,” including carpenters, builders, interior designers and hundreds of volunteers, build seven homes in seven days for seven families in Joplin, Mo.
“What better way to go out than Joplin?” he says of the small town left devastated by a fierce tornado last spring. “It’s really bittersweet, because that show’s not only been my life for the last 10 years, but those people are my family. We’ve been a band of gypsies that have crossed the nation, pull up in our caravans and we bring communities together to rebuild and make dreams come true. It’s really tough; it’s like a breakup that you don’t want to happen.”
The unexpected ending to the “Extreme Makeover” story has opened up a new chapter for Pennington, though. He’ll be host of a daytime health and lifestyle transformation show for ABC, “The Revolution” (premieres Monday at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT).
“It’s like a whole new creative outlet I’ve never tackled before. It’s going to be fun, and it starts to (polish) skills I never would have thought I would be able to do. I never thought I would be the kind of guy who could narrate, host, be questioning back and forth, especially being ADHD, and your mom’s going, ‘Can you just finish the sentence?!’
“So, for me, this is like a milestone. It’s pretty awesome that we’re making progress and I’m starting to feel comfortable with it. Change is happening all around.”
The timing of his big change came as no surprise to Pennington, however, because good things tend to happen for him every 12 years.
“It’s a strange thing, but in 1988, I lived in New York City, and I was a very naive kid. I ended up going on all these commercials for auditions, and I made the people around me laugh, so they would hire me for these commercials because I made people feel comfortable on camera.
“Twelve years later, in 2000, is when I was hired for ‘Trading Spaces,’ and that changed everything. It’s funny — I remember telling producers on ‘Trading Spaces’ way back in the day that ‘in 2012, there’s going to be a big change. Whatever happens, I’m going to be doing some big change.’ I would have never guessed that all this would happen in just one year.”