Next year this time, Kansas City may have its own celebrity fixer upper.
Her father, Ward Schraeder, who lives in Salina and is CEO and a principal partner at Medical Development Management in Wichita, will co-star.
Day and Schraeder were in the middle of pre-production for the show when I reached them by phone. Both sounded happy and enthusiastic about what lies ahead, but they were realistic about the grueling schedule it will bring. Day expects to be onsite, renovating homes seven days a week for the next nine months. Video crews will be taping two days a week.
“We’re just trying to get our life together right now,” Day said, chuckling. “I’ve taken the last two weeks off to spend time with my kids and husband, and I went to see family and enjoy peace and quiet before the storm hits.”
Reality Road Entertainment, a video production and casting company in the Crossroads Arts District, will produce the show with its Los Angeles partner, Conveyor Media. Shooting is scheduled to start at the end of January. Matt Antrim, co-owner of Reality Road, will be executive producer and creator of the show.
Day and her father will renovate six homes over the first season, with each episode featuring the renovation of two rooms.
“Tamara and her husband are actually buying all the houses,” Antrim said. “They will redo them from top to bottom, but the show will only feature four rooms (per house). You’ll always see the kitchen, the master bedroom and bath and two other rooms being redone. But all will be for sale.”
The first two episodes will focus on a 4,000-square-foot Hyde Park bungalow built in 1906 that was gutted by its previous owner.
“It’s a great big old house that an investor got in over his head on and we lucked out,” Day said. “I try really hard to save as many historic aspects as I can. Unfortunately there’s very little salvageable in this house. It’s so sad. It kills me. They did save doors and banisters. And I think for the most part we’ll be able to salvage the floors.”
She and Schraeder had just finished consulting with Davis Paint about removing paint from the home’s limestone exterior.
DIY Network has also invited Day to renovate the kitchen and living room of a Vermont house later this month for its show “Ultimate Retreat” (also known as “Blog Cabin”).
Day came to the attention of Reality Road producers when they were talking to her brother, Caleb Schraeder, a woodworker, about a possible show. He wasn’t a good fit, but he suggested his sister, who had remodeled a dozen dilapidated homes with her husband, Bill Day, a financial planner.
Day does a lot of the work herself, including designing floor plans, knocking down walls, painting walls, and stripping, rebuilding and refinishing floors and woodwork.
Antrim shot a three-minute sizzle reel of Day and took it to DIY Network. The network gave him money to shoot an 8-minute super sizzle, so it could see if it wanted two pilot episodes.
That’s when her dad inadvertently worked his way onto the show. Schraeder kept showing up to see what she was doing, and DIY Network loved him. Antrim said he’s like John Wayne.
His catchphrase, according to Day, is, “I’m glad I thought of that,” which he usually says when he initially disagrees with one of her ideas that turns out to be a good one.
Day put Schraeder on the phone while we were talking. He’s not sure what to make of starring in a TV show.
“Maybe when it becomes real, and it’s actually on TV on a regular basis, and I see how I like it I’ll be able to tell you,” he said. “Right now it’s fun. I get to spend time with Tamara, and I get to see how a TV show is made.”
In the course of his own career, Schraeder said, he has employed several thousand people and built hospitals and health care centers, but he has still learned a thing or two from his daughter.
“She has things I don’t have,” he said. “She has personality and talent and decorating skills … I’m not surprised at anything Tamara does. She’s exceptionally talented and has never shied away from a challenge or opportunity.”
The pilots, called “Little Money Mansions,” aired several times over the summer and were well received by viewers, including a focus group of 2,000 people. The only thing they didn’t like, as far as Day can tell, is the name of the show.
“And they decided on 12 episodes rather than six episodes or four episodes, and the fact that they asked me to do the Vermont project shows me they’re really behind me and see something. They get pitched a lot of shows every day. The odds of us getting to this point are amazing.”
Reality Road also recently secured financing from HGTV to shoot a super sizzle reel of Cody Brown, an artist/rehabber working out of a studio in the West Bottoms.
“He does everything,” Antrim said. “Plumbing, artwork, electrical, furniture, he can make your cabinets, he can literally do everything. He does homes and commercial space as well.”
Look for a profile of Brown in the Jan. 15 Spirit section.
Having a local company producing these shows is a huge boon for Kansas City, said Stephane Scupham, film and new media manager for Visit KC.
“Seeing Kansas City on a national level so that more of the general public gets to know us and proves we’re a great destination to shoot in,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier with Matt and Reality Road. They are doing really well right now. It’s exciting.”