Show to make over home in Port Deposit

October 16, 2007|By Abigail Tucker | Abigail Tucker,Sun Reporter

The horses neighed nervously as cameramen and sound guys scurried among them, but somehow an animal was singled out, harnessed and mounted - by Ty Pennington himself. For once, though, the spiky-haired, muscle-bound star of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was not clutching his trademark microphone, which he uses to bellow orders and inspiration. He needed both hands to hold on as his bewildered steed trotted and the cameras rolled, capturing footage of this Port Deposit horse ranch in the midst of a metamorphosis.

"All the horses are like, `What is going on here?'" said Janet Candy, a volunteer at the ranch, which will be featured on a future episode of the ABC reality show famous for transforming ramshackle homes into castles. Yesterday, bulldozers and flatbed trucks rumbled by the pasture, and crews rushed back and forth, brandishing boom mikes and pitchforks.

In a week it should all be worth it. By then Renee Luther's family will move into a brand-new home; their horses will be installed in a renovated stable. In the meantime, they're not around to experience the chaos. Until the construction is complete, the Luthers - who learned of their selection when Pennington rapped on their door early Sunday morning - will enjoy an all-expenses paid vacation in Italy.

"Nobody deserves this more than Renee," Candy said.

Luther and her two teenage children were chosen from among thousands of nominees, a spokesman for the show said. Extreme Makeover producers look for families who are both deserving and in need. The Luthers run a therapeutic riding program for the disabled, and a few months ago experienced hardship themselves when Carl Luther, Renee's husband, died after a battle with liver cancer.

The show - now in its fifth season - will attempt to lift the Luthers' spirits with a top-speed - and over-the-top - home makeover. The designers' vision will not be revealed until the show airs early next year, but past episodes have featured such deluxe updates as backyard water parks and baseball diamonds.

"Can't tell you what we're going to do," said Eduardo Xol, an interior and landscape designer who stars along with Pennington. "All I can say is that we're going to keep a country, ranch-feel, because that's their sense of style."

Normally the work would take about five months, said Clark Turner, of Clark Turner Signature Homes, the Belcamp-based builder that is donating labor and supplies to the project. When the show's executive producer recruited him to participate, Turner asked if he would really have only seven days to finish, or if "that was all Hollywood stuff."

"He told me that was all Hollywood," Turner recalled. "He said you really only have 106 hours" - about five days, with extra confusion from a film crew and hundreds of skilled and unskilled volunteers from the region milling about.

Luckily, many of his contractor friends were eager to help. But have any of them ever actually watched the notoriously sappy show?

"Are you a kidding?" Turner scoffed. "Builders who don't watch this show are from a different planet. It's wonderful."

abigail.tucker@baltsun.com

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