Have you seen the new HGTV show Flipping the Block? I was almost a big-time super-famous contestant on it! Almost.
Last year, back around August or September, I had a friend trolling Craigslist for TV production jobs. She came across a casting call for "duos" for a new renovation reality show on HGTV and sent it to me and my twin sister, Emily. "You two should totally do this!" she said. Um, okay. So, the day before the casting call in Austin, Emily and I got together, filled out 14 pages of forms that mostly asked (repeatedly) if we'd ever been naked in any form of media (thank God, no), and turned it all in. The next day, we went to a hotel downtown where we were so early we were the second duo interviewed. There were two girls from the casting agency who interviewed us, and it was immediately like talking to old friends. "Stop it" one said when we showed her pictures from when we were Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie for Halloween a couple years ago and made our own replica hats. Three minutes in, she told us she could talk to us all day and that we needed to come back for a callback. Yay!
Two days later we went for our callback, and this time instead of hordes of hopeful contestants, there were only one or two duos there. We waited until they called us in and found out we'd be doing a filmed interview, both together, then alone. We thought we did fine (but who knows about these things?), so they told us they'd be editing our tape, sending it to HGTV with all the other callbacks and then we'd hear back in October if we were moving on in the process. Again, exciting, but there were a few red flags coming up... First, no one could really tell us how the show would be structured or what we'd have to do. In all of the millions of pages of documents we saw, they all referenced "Unnamed Renovation Reality Show" so it wasn't clear at all. Could we be voted off the first week? Did you stay the whole time with one winner at the end? You also had to say you'd be fine with having no contact with your family for 8-12 weeks. Um, that's a little hard for me, having an 8 year old and a 5 year old who wouldn't understand such things and a husband who travels for work... Still, I did realize it was a "chance of a lifetime" so I continued considering it, but I was going to need a little more info before committing to being away that long. Was I going to leave my kids for 3 months to go lay tile and tape and float sheetrock? No thanks! Or, could we be traveling to exotic locales, purchasing one of-a-kind objects to install in unique fixer-upper properties? Yes, please! (Far-fetched, I know.) To make it even more complicated, Emily was 3 months away from her wedding and honeymoon in Bora Bora, so the timing wasn't great. But at that moment we decided our chances were so slim of getting picked for the show we'd just go with it all and deal with it if it happened.
It happened. In late October, as I was wandering around World Market, I received a call from HGTV in New York telling me ("Are you sitting down?!") Emily and I were finalists for "Unnamed Renovation Reality Show" and that we would need to fly to New York the following week. We weren't on the show yet, but it was very close. They'd be sending over contracts and once those silly little things were signed they would book our flights and we'd be off. That's where we ran into some issues. First, they wanted us to fly the Monday after Emily's Sunday night wedding (whaaa?) and push her honeymoon back a few days (really??). Then, the contracts they sent were INSANE. I won't get into the specifics, but you can be sure that anyone on an HGTV show has sold their soul to them. Clearly, those people want to be stars more than anything. Still, I get that it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I'm not judging them (even though it kinda sounds like I am). But, it turns out we didn't even have to seriously consider caving to those INSANE demands for our chance of a lifetime, because one of the stipulations was that contestants could not work for or promote another TV show, channel or any kind of print or digital media. Emily would be in direct violation of the contract the second she signed it by remaining employed by Austin City Limits (and, let's not be ridiculous, she wasn't going to quit). We emailed to see if that could point could be modified, but never heard back. Probably mentioning in the same email that we'd had a lawyer review our contracts wasn't the best idea, or I guess they simply didn't want us THAT bad.
So, all of this is to say that Flipping the Block appears to be the show we auditioned for, and I'm so glad they've found a name for it. I haven't even watched an episode yet, but I'm planning on trying to get caught up soon. Apparently, the gist of the show (my mom is watching it) is that there's a condo development and four teams (one, a pair of wood-working twins from Austin!) each get a condo to renovate for a very small budget. A specific room is chosen each week and whichever team has the best renovation in their condo wins more money to put toward future renovations. As they are renovating their spaces, they get to choose/budget whether they hire professionals or DIY the projects. At the end, all four condos will be auctioned off and the winners will split $50,000 and whatever profit is made on the condo. (It would have been nice to have that blurb a year ago.)
Did I forget to mention the contestants have to live at the condo they're renovating?! Ha! A far cry from the exotic locale and artifact-shopping I was hoping for, but still sounds like a lot of fun. If things had been less complicated, I would have loved to Flip the Block!