Behind the Scenes: Door Knock Day

January 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The flashing lights and police motorcade made drivers along Palm and Shields Avenues stop and stare. This was what our news crew had been waiting for? the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew and bus were finally rolling up to the chosen family's neighborhood. We promised the show's producers not to spoil the surprise, so all we could do was wait patiently until they gave us the "ok" to let the secret out. So we were thrilled as we watched traffic at the intersection come to a halt as dozens of Fresno Police motor officers cleared the way for a line of vans, production trucks, and of course the bus with Ty and the rest of the design crew on board. In fact, KMJ radio reporter Roy Isom, said he was covering a completely different assignment on Shields when the police escort whizzed by. It was such an unusual sight, he decided to follow his instincts and stumbled upon the Extreme Makeover site, even before it was officially announced.

The bus parked on Palm and Dakota, out of sight from the Riojas family home on Robinson, then rolled onto the street, with cameras rolling around 9am. In the meantime, a show producer was sitting with the Riojas family in the back part of their house, with the TV on to drown out the noise so they wouldn't suspect the bus was coming. In fact, the producer told the family that all the finalist families had a producer with them as well. As the police rolled onto the street some neighbors asked if there was a murder scene. But then Ty did his customary "Good Morning Riojas Family!" wakeup call on his bullhorn, and neighbors realized this was it! The street was blocked off to traffic, but neighbors say there was a lot of screaming and jumping and commotion. Then we saw the bus back up, roll forward again, and the design crew did it all over again. This happened about three times. The production people told us this was for the sake of editing for television. And that there was one car in particular that was still on the street (the neighbors had been asked to move their cars), that was in their shot. So they had to ask the police officers to pick the locks so the neighbor could get the keys, which were locked inside the car, and move the car off the street!

Once the production crew got the shots they needed for the show, local media was allowed up to the house. On Robinson as well as Thorne, a small city had sprung up: Catering trucks and porta-potties for the crew's comfort, production trailers and television equipment. One neighbor, Wayne Stonecipher watching from the corner said he was opening up his home to the show. A Design/Art tent would be set up in his backyard. He even had to clear his pool to make way for all the set up. We saw several of the show's designers, including Michael Maloney and Ed Sanders walking around and one of our news crews interviewed them. But Ty Pennington was nowhere to be seen. We were told he was inside the home with the Riojas family, getting to know them and their needs, to better design a new custom home for them. He's known for some wild and crazy designs, so we can't imagine what he has in store this time! Stay tuned to ABC30 and www.abc30.com for continued coverage of the big build.

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