The Evil Geniuses Behind American Ninja Warrior

Mens Journal

by Gavin Edwards

For a second, Eric Bivoino hangs in midair. He's young, fit, and trying not to land on his handsome face. Bivoino, a part-time stuntman, is in the middle of a challenge that the makers of the TV show American Ninja Warrior call Downhill Pipe: Hanging on to a steel bar, the warrior slides like a human roller coaster down two curved metal rods and then launches into a predictable vector. He's supposed to grab a rope and swing to safety. But even though his hands reach out for the dangling rope, it remains just past his grasp. Bivoino lands on the ground with a heavy crunch.

In this nondescript warehouse a half-hour north of Los Angeles, Bivoino is testing the Downhill Pipe for possible use on American Ninja Warrior. The show — the nation's top-rated obstacle-course competition and a summertime hit for NBC — needs to test its aspiring ninjas and surprise its viewers with a constant barrage of new challenges. For the 2015 season, premiering this month, the producers have brought in stuntmen, parkour experts, and former competitors to test-drive dozens of new obstacles (kept top secret so no aspiring ninja can get an edge). The obstacles need to have just the right amount of difficulty — the goal is for only 20 percent of contestants to finish the preliminary courses held in six cities across the country. Ultimately, only 24 new obstacles will make the cut. So on this February afternoon, the top brass watch Bivoino's every twitch like they're judges at an Olympic diving competition.

"We have to keep up with the ninjas," says Kent Weed, who's been the show's executive producer since it started five years ago. He's wearing a green polo shirt and has the mien of an aging surfer. "The minute we create a new obstacle, the ninjas build it in their backyards and you see it pop up on YouTube. So we have to stay fresh." Weed, a veteran producer of reality game shows like Hell's Kitchen, used to test every obstacle himself — the last barrier against anarchy in the ninja world — but he gave it up after a serious eye injury. He will still jump in if he thinks an obstacle is too easy: If a reality-TV producer in his fifties can handle it, he reasons, then it's obviously not tough enough for the ninjas.

American Ninja Warrior originated in Japan, where, under the name Sasuke, it's had 30 competitions since 1997. (There is also a U.K. spin-off, and dubbed versions of Sasuke are syndicated worldwide.) Thousands have climbed ropes, scaled walls, hoisted themselves up "salmon ladders" — in which contestants use a single movable rung to lift themselves a foot at a time — and balanced on increasingly unstable surfaces in an elaborate four-stage obstacle course. In 2012, the show was adapted for NBC's prime-time schedule. Now contestants take on a preliminary course in regional competitions while striving to advance to the finals in Las Vegas, where they face off against the final challenge, dubbed Mount Midoriyama.

This year, 40,000 people applied to be on American Ninja Warrior. About a quarter of them submitted videos showing off their skills at clambering up walls and swinging through homemade obstacles. (The show has launched its own fitness craze: There are now gyms all over the country specializing in Ninja skills and obstacle courses.) Roughly 800 contestants are chosen to compete in the qualifying rounds. "We see a lot of stunt people, former athletes, and ex-military," says J.J. Getskow, the show's lead course designer. "We don't want to put something out there that everybody just walks through."

So far, the show has debuted more than 100 obstacles. Before arriving, contestants have no idea what course they will encounter, so they train to be ready for anything. "There's a lot of different physical attributes necessary to be a ninja," explains Anthony Storm, a co-­executive producer. "Speed, agility, balance, upper-body strength, grip strength. Each obstacle tests one or some of those." Grip strength is the show's X factor: It's not something athletes typically focus on improving, but it's essential when you're swinging above a water tank or holding on to a polyurethane ring with your fingertips.

Despite the element of surprise, producers do have a semi-set pattern for sequence. The Quintuple Steps is always first, the Warped Wall sixth, and Salmon Ladder eighth. "And for the second obstacle, we generally have some not incredibly taxing upper-body challenge," Storm says. "That one is about separating the athletes from the wannabes. Almost everyone can physically get past the second obstacle, but if you're nervous, you're probably going to fail it."

Here at the warehouse, Bivoino picks himself up and returns to the start of the Downhill Pipe, where he is lifted high above the ground by a forklift. He launches himself down the slope again — and this time Bivoino nails the timing, grabs the rope, swings forward, and hops onto a platform for a victorious dismount.

"Did you feel like you were actually finding the rope?" asks Storm.

Bivoino nods, doing an instant replay in his head. "I had time," he reports.

The toughest obstacles get reserved for the finals in Las Vegas — in six seasons, no American has reached the end of the course, so no one has yet claimed the $500,000 prize for finishing. Producers would love for someone to win, but they aren't about to make the obstacles any easier to see the first American make history by topping Mount Midoriyama.

"The first time I scaled the Warped Wall and hit the buzzer, I went to my knees and cried like a little girl," says Joe Moravsky, one of last season's top contestants. "Because of that moment, I feel like I've lived."

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A. Smith Ups Post Exec Jonathan Goldberg


By: Kevin Ritchie

Los Angeles-based A. Smith & Co. Productions has promoted Jonathan Goldberg (pictured) to vice president of post-production.

Jonathan Goldberg

Formerly a post-production supervisor, Goldberg will oversee post for the company’s entire slate, which includes NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen, HGTV’s Ellen’s Design Challenge, and Unsung and Unsung Hollywood, both for TVOne.

He joined the company in 2009. Prior to that, he worked in post at 3 Ball Productions, 44 Blue Productions and ABC Studios on scripted hit Lost.

Last month, A. Smith & Co. promoted Sharalynn Cornwall and Kristen Stabile to executive vice presidents of production, and Christmas Rini to executive vice president of development.

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2015 Realscreen Awards Shortlist Unveiled


By: Realscreen Staff

The first round of judging has concluded for the upcoming 2015 Realscreen Awards, and realscreen is happy to announce the nominees advancing to the second, final round of judging.

The awards, which recognize the best in reality, documentary and factual entertainment programming from around the world, will be presented during a ceremony held at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, California, on June 2, in conjunction with the forthcoming Realscreen West conference, which takes place June 1-3.

In addition to the category winners, the Realscreen Awards will also induct Craig Piligian, president and CEO of Pilgrim Studios, into its Hall of Fame as this year’s Producer Extraordinaire.

For more information, visit

The shortlisted programs for the 2015 Realscreen Awards are:

Competition – Game

American Ninja Warrior (U.S.)
Broadcaster: NBC
Production company: A. Smith & Co.
Executive Producer (for the production company): Arthur Smith, Kent Weed

Face Off (U.S.)
Broadcaster: Syfy
Production company: Mission Control Media
Executive Producer (for the production company): Michael Agbabian, Dwight D. Smith, Derek Atherton

King of the Nerds (U.S.)
Broadcaster: TBS
Production companies: 5X5 Media, Electus
Executive Producer (for the production companies): Craig Armstrong, Rick Ringbakk, Charles Wachter – 5X5 Media; Ben Silverman, Chris Grant, Jimmy Fox - Electus; Curtis Armstrong, Robert Carradine

Release the Hounds (United Kingdom)
Broadcaster: ITV 2
Production company: Gogglebox Entertainment
Executive Producer (for the production company): Mat Steiner, Adam Wood
Executive Producer (for the broadcaster): Kate Maddigan

The Amazing Race (U.S.)
Broadcaster: CBS
Production company: World Race Productions
Executive Producer (for the production company): Jerry Bruckheimer, Bertram van Munster, Jonathan Littman, Elise Doganieri, Mark Vertullo

The Quest (U.S.)
Broadcaster: ABC
Production companies: Profiles Television Productions, Green Harbor Productions, Court Five
Executive Producer (for the production companies): Bertram van Munster, Elise Doganieri - Profiles Television Productions; Rob Eric, Michael Williams – Green Harbor Productions; Mark Ordesky, Jane Fleming – Court Five

For the full list of categories read more at:

Realscreen congratulates all the nominees.

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A. Smith & Co. Celebrates 15 Years in Reality: 'Everyone Thought We Were Nuts'

Hollywood Reporter

Written by Michael O'Connell

Since launching in 2000, A. Smith & Co. Productions has run the reality gamut. Its team has booked 19 nubile strangers for a scandalous stay at Paradise Hotel, pitted women against one another on plastic-surgery competition The Swan and subjected more than 100 line cooks to Gordon Ramsay's screaming red face on Hell's Kitchen, one of Fox's top-rated reality programs for the past decade.

CEO Arthur Smith, President Kent Weed and COO Frank Sinton also have helped save struggling restaurant businesses on Kitchen Nightmares and established a summer mainstay with NBC's American Ninja Warrior. As the Toluca Lake, Calif.-based company celebrates 15 years in business, Smith and Weed reflect on some of the wildest moments from the unscripted boom years and discuss shifts in the industry and the waiting game for the massive genre's next big — and greatly needed — hit series.

How did you become producers of reality series?

Arthur Smith: We met in the mid-'90s. We were a producer-director team on a show I created for NBC called When Stars Were Kids that would have been categorized as a reality show today. We kind of grew into it, but our slate is still all over the place — we're like the actor who doesn't like being typecast. In the beginning, when the staff was a lot smaller, we were doing things we were passionate about. They just happened to fall into the genre.

Kent Weed: There was tons of "reality" programing on the networks, but it was still just called "nonfiction."

Smith: We started the company at the end of 2000, which turned out to be a really good time. (Laughs.) That's when things were really taking off and people started calling what we were doing "reality."

If you had to pick a show that became a turning point for your company, which would it be?

Smith: There's one show that still has a love affair with reality fans, and that's [Fox's] Paradise Hotel. That was the first big network show we did, and for that crazy summer [2003] we became late-night-show monologue material, a part of pop culture. There were sociology courses that talked about Paradise Hotel. There are still groupies! It also started this relationship we had with [then Fox reality chief] Mike Darnell. At the time, it was one of those landmark shows. It's one of those shows people still use in their pitches: "It's like Paradise Hotel meets …" It was sexy and provocative.

That show seemed as if it would have been something of a pressure cooker.

Smith: It was only supposed to be 15 episodes, but it was doing so well that the order was doubled to 31 halfway through.

Weed: For the time, we had a unique timetable. Survivor had been on for a while, but they would shoot the show and take a number of months to edit it. We'd have to turn an episode around in nine days. People were away for much longer than we thought — over three months. We had this reunion where we brought back the cast who'd been eliminated, which got wild.

Smith: The eliminated cast came back, and it was just madness between the people who were there and the people who had gone. It got so heated that we had to halt production for 13 hours — it was the first time the cameras stopped rolling the whole time. The truth is that on some shows, not all reality shows, being on the edge is not a bad thing.

Weed: The other show, I think, is Hell's Kitchen. It was the first show to bring food into net­work primetime. Everyone was so doubtful at the time.

Smith: Food was even still a modest presence on cable at the time. This was 2004.

Back then, Mike Darnell was ordering a lot of wild stuff from you guys — like The Swan, which featured women deemed "ugly" who were given free plastic surgery, with one of them ultimately being crowned the "swan."

Weed: Everyone thought we were nuts.

There was talk of that show coming back a few years ago. Does this remain a possibility?

Smith: Never say never. There's a partnership with Fremantle. It's a great format — we were very close to doing it again. Any time people are still fond of a format, there's interest.

Wilder reality-competition premises like The Swan don't seem to make it to air as often anymore.

Smith: I think it's harder now because the network's also a victim on the scripted side. It's the fragmentation, the advances of cable, what's going on online … it's made it harder to program. What I do believe is that when you take risks and you're novel, people still appreciate that.

What is one of the bigger risks you have taken content wise as a company?

Weed: I Survived a Japanese Game Show. It was the first American show ever shot in Japan.

Smith: [Then ABC reality chief] John Saade was the executive on that. We wrote this show bible on what the show would be: Americans on a reality show taken to Japan to do these wild things with a Japanese crew and all that. But we'd never been to Japan — we just did research. Then we got a phone call in March: John wanted it on the air in June, in time to air after the NBA Finals. Studio space and housing are so difficult to come by in Japan. I cannot believe we pulled it off!

American Ninja Warrior, in a similar arena, has bucked the trend of ratings fatigue and found a huge summer following on NBC. Why do you think it has become such a success?

Smith: A lot of reality shows have negativity to them, and this is one competition where the athletes really root for each other. You also never know when somebody steps up to the line whether they're going to be good or not. It's also good for family viewing and in little morsels: People tell me kids ask their parents if they can stay up to watch one more person run the course before they go to bed.

The business eagerly is awaiting the next big reality format. How close do you think we are to seeing it? What do viewers want now?

Smith: It's challenging to maintain the classic reality-competition shows, and many new series start to feel derivative of them. If it feels similar, it's not exciting for viewers — they're dying for something fresh. I do believe it's coming. We're developing a few shows right now that we hope will be the next big thing.

A. Smith & Co.'s 10 Biggest Series

Hell’s Kitchen
Kitchen Nightmares
American Ninja Warrior
The Swan
Paradise Hotel
Full Throttle Saloon
Ellen’s Design Challenge
I Survived a Japanese Game Show
Trading Spaces
Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory
Pros vs. Joes


*This story first appeared in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

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A. Smith & Co. Receives 21 - 2015 Reality Television Award Nominations!

 RTVA 2015

The reality TV world gathered together at The Parlor-Hollywood on Wednesday night as nominees in 21 unique categories were announced for the 3rd annual Reality Television Awards. Reality television stars, show representatives and television executives celebrated all of these outstanding performances of 2014.

A. Smith & Co programing received an impressive 21 nominations in this years 2015 Reality Television Awards  – where the public votes to decide the winners! 

Visit this link here to support your favorite A. Smith shows (a list of categories they are nominated in is below).  Voting is EASY and you can vote as many times as you want now through April 30th.  After you've voted, share with your friends, and get them to vote too!

The winners will be announced on Wednesday May 13th at Avalon in Hollywood. 

A Smith & Co. Productions has nominations in the following categories:

Creative Challenge

American Ninja Warrior – The course itself

Hell’s Kitchen 12 – Digging out and cooking with 100lbs of potatoes from a pig pen

Feel Good Show

American Ninja Warrior

Unique Concept

Wizard Wars

Shocking Moment

Hell’s Kitchen 12 (Joy walk out of dinner service)

Kitchen Nightmares (Return to Amy’s baking company)

Heartfelt Moment

American Ninja Warrior – Kacy begins first woman to complete qualifier

Dynamic Cast – New

Hell’s Kitchen 13

Best Production Company

A. Smith & Co. Productions         

Outstanding Performance

American Ninja Warrior – Kacy begins first woman to complete qualifier

Best Editing

Hell’s Kitchen

Competition Show

American Ninja Warrior

Hell's Kitchen

Best Villain

Amy Bouzagle from Kitchen Nightmares

Guilty Pleasure

Hell’s Kitchen

New Show

Wizard Wars


Gordon Ramsay for Hell’s Kitchen

Matt Iseman for American Ninja Warrior

Bad Ass Crew

American Ninja Warrior

Reality King

Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s Kitchen/Kitchen Nightmares/MasterChef)

Overall Show

Hell's Kitchen    

For more information, please visit

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2015’s 30 MOST POWERFUL REALITY PLAYERS – Arthur Smith Ranked # 8

Hollywood Reporter

 by THR Staff

Hollywood Reporter Reveals The 30 Most Powerful Sellers of 2015 

The business of unscripted never has been more challenged as new hits are as scarce as Kardashians at a TED conference — but these super producers buck the trend, commanding influence and, in many instances, nine-figure deals.

Arthur Smith ranked # 8 of the 30, his American Ninja Warrior is becoming more and more of a summer flagship at NBC — its boosted ratings led to an extended run this past summer — and Smith also can boast 21 projects across cable and broadcast occupying more than 200 hours of unscripted airtime in 2014.

The Reality Player sounds off on who he would like to do a docuseries about, his top 3 dream reality tv dinner guests and what he be doing if  he weren’t working in unscripted TV.


Miley Cyrus


Sarah Palin, Mike Tyson and the Property Brothers


A broken man who creates the world’s only combination wood-fired pizza joint/Pilates studio and moonlights as an NFL handicapper.

The Complete List

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A. Smith & Co. ups three to EVP roles


Written by Kevin Ritchie

Sharalynn Cornwall - Kristen Stabile - Christmas Rini

Los Angeles-based A. Smith & Co. Productions has promoted three production and development execs.

Sharalynn Cornwall (pictured, left) and Kristen Stabile (center) have been named executive vice presidents of production, and Christmas Rini (right)  is now executive vice president of development.

The promotions are designed to handle projected growth of the company’s slate, which includes recent HGTV hit Ellen’s Design Challenge, long-running Fox culinary competition Hell’s Kitchen and NBC’s American Ninja Warrior.

Cornwall, who joined the company six years ago as production manager, recently served as co-executive producer on Ellen’s Design Challenge (which is coproduced with Ellen DeGeneres’ A Very Good Production) and the executive in charge of production on TV One’s Unsung, which led to the spin-off Unsung Hollywood.

She has also overseen the second season of Wizard Wars and Joe Rogan Questions Everything,both for Syfy.

Stabile co-exec produces American Ninja Warrior, which is in production on season seven. Her credits also include Kitchen Nightmares for Fox and two yet-to-be-announced network shows.

Rini works across network and cable programs. She co-exec produced on Ellen’s Design Challenge, Oxygen’s Too Young To Marry, which she also created, and developed Joe Rogan Questions Everything and ABC’s I Survived A Japanese Game Show.


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Surprise in Store for Ellen's Design Challenge


Written by: BusinessWire Staff

The finale of Ellen’s Design Challenge, scheduled to air on HGTV,Monday, March 2, at 9 p.m. ET/PT,promises a surprise from television icon Ellen DeGeneres that viewers will have to see to believe. The stakes in the popular furniture design series are high as the last two competitors -- Tim McClellan of Durango, Colo. and Katie Stout of Brooklyn, N.Y. -- go head-to-head to win a $100,000 cash prize courtesy of and a feature in HGTV Magazine. However, neither finalist could ever imagine what’s to come in the last minutes of the competition.

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for and it includes some curveballs that will make the final episode unforgettable.”

“The pieces I’ve seen from the designers have been insanely creative, so of course the finale will be very exciting,” said Ellen. “This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for and it includes some curveballs that will make the final episode unforgettable.”

The six-episode series, Ellen’s first on cable television, features six competitors as they tackle ingenious challenges to sketch, design and build extraordinary furniture. Produced by Ellen’s production company, A Very Good Production, and A. Smith & Co. in association with Telepictures, Ellen’s Design Challenge requires contestants to create inventive furniture designs to avoid elimination. Television personality Jay Montepare serves as the series’ host, while Amanda Dameron, editor-in-chief of Dwell, and Christiane Lemieux, executive creative director of, participate as judges in the competition.

Executive producers for Ellen’s Design Challenge include Ellen, who first conceptualized the series, along with Jeff Kleeman of A Very Good Production, and Arthur Smith, Kent Weed and Tim Eagan of A. Smith & Co.

Read more:

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Building "Ellen's Design Challenge"


Written by Kevin Ritchie

As talk about over-saturation pervades unscripted television circles, producers of reality competition formats have managed to discover an unexploited new niche: furniture design.

Airing on HGTV on Monday nights at 9 p.m., Ellen’s Design Challenge (six x one-hour, pictured) features comedian Ellen DeGeneres and tasks six contestants to sketch, design and build creative furniture pieces in a 48-hour time period.

Each week, one contestant is voted off by a judging panel of industry experts and the winner receives US$100,000 cash and a feature in HGTV Magazine.

The series is one of two reality competitions about furniture design that began airing in the U.S. this year. The other is Framework, which was hosted by the rapper Common and premiered on NBCUniversal-owned channel Spike on January 6.

Ellen’s Design Challenge does not attempt to reinvent the reality competition format. Instead, producers are hoping viewers will be drawn to a competition inspired by its namesake celebrity’s fun-loving brand values. So far, the strategy is working.

“Our viewers are watching the show not just because they want to watch the drama that it takes to win,” explains the Scripps Interactive-owned net’s president, Kathleen Finch. “Our viewers really care about the finished product.”

The idea for the series came from DeGeneres, best known as host of the ABC daytime talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Producers from her shingle, A Very Good Production, reached out to Finch, who flew to Los Angeles to take a pitch meeting in DeGeneres’ office.

The concept came from the star’s hobby of buying, renovating, furnishing and flipping homes but in particular her interest in furniture, which has been documented in the tabloid press via photos of DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi out on shopping excursions.

Before the conversation began, Finch was already impressed by DeGeneres’ “beautifully designed” work space and dressing room.

“When she pitched me the idea, within two seconds all I could think of was when could we start shooting it,” says Finch. “Clearly she knew what she was talking about. She started rattling off names of judges that she wanted and which design schools we should pull contestants from.”

Moreover, HGTV’s in-house audience research highlighted crossover between the network’s audience of upscale, home-owning women and fans of DeGeneres’ daytime audience on ABC. The network has also partnered with The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the past.

In 2012, the comedian teamed up with HGTV personalities Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri of Kitchen Cousins to rebuild a home for a New Jersey couple whose home was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. “That altruistic spirit and that sense of fun are two things that resonate with her audience and with our audience,” says Finch.

Indeed, the show has a focus on rewarding and celebrating the contestants’ skills. DeGeneres’ penchant for pulling pranks on (and with) celebrities is more bluntly felt in the show’s challenges. In the premiere episode, she appears via pre-recorded video to present the contestants with giant gift boxes, which turn out to be empty. Instead, the designers must use the materials that make up the boxes to create original pieces.

Since DeGeneres is not a regular presence on the show, her enthusiasm has to come across when she is absent. She appears in a few episodes via video and was on set for episode three and the finale. The show’s host, Jay Montepare, frequently points out that DeGeneres “hand-picked” the contestants and judges.

Producers insist her involvement in the casting and development process ensured that her values were felt on the air despite her physical absence from the set. “Her whole mantra is love what you’re doing, be good at what you’re doing and it will resonate with the audience,” says Finch.

“These are really complicated shows to do,” she adds. “Every project must look fabulous but the contestants also have to do them under really stressful, unnatural circumstances. In the real world, an artist is not given 48 hours to make a masterpiece but yet that’s what we do on this show and the end result has to be A-plus.”

To add the reality razzle dazzle and work out the logistics, A. Smith & Co. Productions (Hell’s Kitchen) partnered with DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman of A Very Good Productions and Warner Bros. Television’s syndication arm Telepictures (which also produces The Ellen DeGeneres Show) to develop and produce the series.

Casting designers who could create beautiful furniture under stress was the most important step. The designers not only had to be of a certain standard but likeable and compelling as people and those traits also had to reflect in their approach to design.

The contestants include Brooklyn designer Katie Stout, cowboy hat-wearing self-taught designer Tim McClellan, North Carolina-based blacksmith Carley Eisenberg and Los Angeles interior designer Leslie Shapiro Joyal.

“We wanted to represent different types of designers. As the show goes on you are able to tell whose piece is whose because you are seeing their styles developing,” says Arthur Smith, founder of A. Smith & Co. “Especially today, viewers want competitions that are legitimate and fair. You have to really feel the person who is winning is worthy.”

“There were two strands that went into the development of the show,” he continues. “The logistics side and then there was the showmanship.”

In terms of showmanship, producers came up with a lazy Susan-type turntable that spins around to reveal the contestant’s final design. Additionally, the criteria for the carpenters that each designer is paired with were less rigorous than the designers: they had to be not only skilled, but good-looking enough to provide viewers with some eye candy.

Pre-production involved consulting with furniture designers, collectors and experts on the kinds of challenges that would best showcase a designer’s chops. They recruited judges Amanda Dameron, editor-in-chief of Dwell magazine; Christiane Lemieux, executive creative director at e-commerce site; and weekly guest judges to size up contestants’ creations based on use of the materials, practicality and the designer’s personal style.

As is needed with any competition format, there are a couple twists.

Since the judges give comments upon seeing the finished pieces, DeGeneres suggested cutting their private deliberations from the TV broadcast and posting that segment online as a deeper dive into the process for the online audience.

The finale also caused Finch a sleepless night. “A big surprise happened at the finale that had us all scrambling,” she said. “It’s not the kind of thing you wish will happen but nothing like it has happened on any competition show on HGTV so I am excited about that.”

The January 26 premiere attracted 3.9 million total viewers and garnered a .72 rating among viewers in the 25-54 demo. More than 7.9 million viewers have tuned in since the show began airing, according to the network. The show is also simultaneously airing on HGTV in Canada.

Finch says social engagement is “phenomenal” thanks in large part to DeGeneres’ online reach, which includes 40 million Twitter followers.

Read more:

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Arthur Smith joins Real Screen West 2015 Advisory Board


By RealScreen Staff

In response to delegate feedback looking for more meeting and networking time, organizers have expanded the Realscreen West program to three days, June 1-3 in Santa Monica.

This marks the seventh year for the West Coast’s most important unscripted entertainment conference and market, which has sold out the last several years. For the first time, this year’s host venue, the Fairmont Miramar, has been secured exclusively for registered delegates.

With venue exclusivity, organizers say they expect to host over 1200 buyers, creators and distributors of unscripted programming. The event, presented by Realscreen, also hosts the annual Realscreen Awards ceremony (pictured), celebrating the best in global non-fiction and unscripted entertainment.

This year’s advisory board is co-chaired by Orly Anderson, president, ITV Studios America and Rob Sharenow, EVP & general manager, Lifetime. Board Members are Cris Abrego, Co-CEO and chairman, Endemol Shine North America; Jenny Daly, president, T Group Productions; Susanne Daniels, president of programming, MTV; David Eilenberg, SVP, unscripted development, TBS and TNT; Deirdre Gurney, co-founder and executive producer, Gurney Productions; Lance Klein, partner and co-head, non-scripted television department, WME; Bonnie Pan, EVP of programming, Maker Studios; Rich Ross, president, Discovery Channel; Arthur Smith, co-founder and CEO, A. Smith & Co. Productions and Bertram van Munster, executive producer, Profiles Television Productions.

For more information, visit

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