William Shatner to Star in DIY Network Remodeling Show

Posted by at 9:08 am on March 17, 2014

william-shatner-home-repairWilliam Shatner the popular actor whose portrayal of heroes like Captain Kirk from “Star Trek” has captivated TV fans for decades, is about to star in a reality series about renovating his house. “The Shatner Project,” slated to debut on Scripps Networks’ DIY cable network in October for five 30-minute episodes (Shatner says six may be possible), will put the actor and his wife, Elizabeth, at the center of what Shatner says is just good television: “This is like a dramatic show with a revelation at the end,” he said, adding: “There’s conflict and there’s tension, and characters evolve.”

So, too, do TV networks, and Shatner’s place at the helm of a program set to run on a network owned by Scripps says as much. For years, Scripps-owned cable outlets like Food Network and HGTV have by and large made their own stars, tapping home-renovation experts and chefs with regional followings and turning them into famous gurus of the house and kitchen.

Scripps said last year proved robust for DIY, which was watched by more than 7.6 million viewers on average each week. “Vanilla Ice Goes Amish” proved to be the network’s leading regularly scheduled primetime series in all key adult and female demos last year. The network was able to increase the per-subscriber fees it collects from distributors by a penny, according to market-research firm SNL Kagan, to ten cents in 2013 from nine cents in 2012. And its ad revenue rose to more than $70.3 million last year from about $57.8 million in 2012, Kagan said.

After the success of the first Vanilla Ice series, said Finch, executives decided to expand. “He has a crew of guys he’s been working with for years. It was an immediate hit,” she said. “We started thinking, well, who else is out there?” The shows give viewers what they expect – home-redo action – but offer a twist by providing a peek inside a celebrity’s home and a different lifestyle.

Such series can be tricky, because there is no guarantee the celebrity will want to return for a second season – or even offer a reason for a second season to exist – even if the show is successful. And the shows work best if the famous person at the center of it all has some real experience with or at true passion for home remodeling. When it comes to Darryl Hall, for example, the singer has long indulged a yen for remodeling antique homes, Finch said.

For Shatner, the new series continues a career that has regularly veered off the beaten path. Yes, the actor is best remembered for “Star Trek, “ Hooker,” “Boston Legal” and, more recently, his appearances in ads for Priceline, but he has also hosted a talk show, “Shatner’s Raw Nerve,” for A+E Networks’ Bio or tried his hand at covering The Beatles and Bob Dylan in offbeat spoken-word albums. “This is along the lines of that experimental nature,” he said.

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