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Tom Watson
 
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Default Bob Vila











--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted on Sun, Nov. 28, 2004



On the House | Vila's shows keep focus on building, remodeling

By Al Heavens
Inquirer Columnist

It has been exactly 25 years since the launch of This Old House with
Bob Vila as host, and more than 15 years since he left the show.

Still, for most Americans, the two remain synonymous.

"I was at the Habitat for Humanity Awards in New York, and under my
name in the brochure was This Old House," Vila said in a telephone
interview.

"My wife asked me when I thought people would finally get it
straight," he said. "They don't have to get it straight. I own part of
the franchise."

Unlike his successor, Steve Thomas, who has been rarely seen on TV
since his departure from the show in 2003 after a 14-year stint, Vila
has never left the air.

Besides This Old House reruns for a number of years, there have been
Home Again, a number of specials about older houses and styles,
thousands of guest appearances, and Vila's continuing relationship
with Sears and Craftsman tools.

The latest Home Again project, rehabbing a Brooklyn, N.Y., brownstone,
debuted earlier this month and is being undertaken with his son,
Chris, a real estate developer in New York. The show can be seen
Saturdays at 4 a.m. on KYW-TV (Channel 3).

Vila readily acknowledges that the formula of his show hasn't changed
much since 1979. In fact, he seems proud that it hasn't.

"It's a show about building and remodeling," Vila said. "We talk about
construction methods, materials and technology."

Although he is unwilling to criticize the competition directly by
mentioning names, he distinguishes what he does from what he calls
"infotainment."

"These shows have an angle, like a carpenter who is Playmate of the
Month or an actor who becomes a carpenter," Vila said. "Then there are
the shows with the theme reminiscent of Queen for a Day. They have a
different approach than I do. I'm here to teach; they are designed
mainly to entertain."

Most of those shows also tend to rush their projects to completion.

"I can't comment on someone else's work because I haven't walked
around it," Vila said, "but we do have a tradition in TV of building
sets and calling them houses. It takes time to put together a solid
house or rebuild one. Six months to do it right isn't unusual."

Has anyone pressured Vila to change his format?

"There has never been a discussion about changing," he said. "My
partners at Sears and I talk about the subject matter, and I listen to
what they suggest, but there is never any pressure on me to do
'reality' shows."

On the other hand, he said, "we do have real live people for an
affordable shelter home we are doing in a small town in Massachusetts,
and these folks will appear on the show."

The lack of pressure to change also could stem from the fact that "I'm
not in prime time," Vila said. "There is a difference."

When Vila started with This Old House in fall 1979, "we were the only
ones." Now, with entire television networks devoted to home
improvement, the field has become very crowded.

"There is a danger that you can overdo it," Vila said. "And if you
overdo anything, people will become less interested in watching any of
it."

Vila, who dropped out of architecture school to start R.J. Vila
Designer/Builder in Cambridge, Mass., after realizing how little
architects were making, remains in the contracting business, and
despite his busy schedule tries to do some projects around the house
whenever he can.

His schedule is always more than full. I interviewed him by phone as
he was being chauffeured to the Fox-TV studios in Manhattan after
taping a segment at the job site in Brooklyn.

Vila left This Old House in 1989 after a dispute with creator/producer
Russell Morash over Vila's product endorsements. He doesn't regret the
move, and simply views his departure as disappointing rather than
controversial.

"I was able to re-create myself and my production company, and carried
on with what I'd tried to do for those 10 years on the show," Vila
said.

"After I left This Old House, it changed, and changed a great deal,"
Vila said. "It became scripted, just like a sitcom.

"That's why I have no regrets," he said. "No regrets at all."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"On the House" appears Sundays in The Inquirer. Contact Alan J.
Heavens at 215-854-2472 or . Read his recent
work at
http://go.philly.com/alheavens.





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2004 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights
Reserved.
http://www.philly.com




Regards,
Tom.

"People funny. Life a funny thing." Sonny Liston

Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
  #2   Report Post  
Mike
 
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The only reason Bob is seen so often is that he'll sell anything,
anytime, anywhere.

Mike
  #3   Report Post  
Bob Schmall
 
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"Tom Watson" wrote in message
...

On the House | Vila's shows keep focus on building, remodeling

By Al Heavens
Inquirer Columnist

It has been exactly 25 years since the launch of This Old House with
Bob Vila as host, and more than 15 years since he left the show.

(snip)


"After I left This Old House, it changed, and changed a great deal,"
Vila said. "It became scripted, just like a sitcom.

"That's why I have no regrets," he said. "No regrets at all."


Nor do we, Bob.


  #4   Report Post  
Unisaw A100
 
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Interestingly enough I just last night saw Steve Thomas on
the History Channel hosting a program about the
Jamestown(e?) colony.

The first time I ever saw Steve Thomas (pre-This Old House)
was on PBS. It was a show about him sailing solo 'round the
world.

OBWW Content:
The Jamestown(e?) fort was made from wood as was Thomas'
sail boat.

UA100, who gets the heebie-jeebies real bad every time he
sees B*b V*l* smiling...
  #5   Report Post  
Edwin Pawlowski
 
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"Mike" wrote in message
...
The only reason Bob is seen so often is that he'll sell anything,
anytime, anywhere.

Mike


And as long as people continue to buy what he sells, he has a secure job.
Is America great or what?
Ed




  #6   Report Post  
loutent
 
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snip

"After I left This Old House, it changed, and changed a great deal,"
Vila said. "It became scripted, just like a sitcom.

"That's why I have no regrets," he said. "No regrets at all."


snip

I think that I may have a slightly different take. Now, don't get me
wrong, I love Norm, Tommy, Richard and the rest of the gang. But if you
are going to criticize Bob for being too "commercial", you have got to
have a good hard laugh at PBS, Russ Morash et al for absolutely and
totally embracing capitalism with "Ask This Old House, Behind This Old
House (on A&E, featuring a lot of Bob Villa), This Old House & The New
Yankee Workshop. Talk about "whoring" your work!

OTOH, I enjoy watching all of them!

I like Bob Villa's "Home Again" stuff because it is more adaptable to
the everyday homeowner in many cases (I note that Riley is missing a
few parts of a couple fingers).

TOH, though interesting, has become a show that few can identify with
in that they literally spend millions of $ while still trying to relate
to the "common" PBS audience to which they are supposedly serving.

Or maybe their audience is exactly whom they think it is.

Hmmmm....

(Still thinking Norm = God.)

Lou
  #7   Report Post  
Ed Clarke
 
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In article , loutent wrote:

snip

"After I left This Old House, it changed, and changed a great deal,"
Vila said. "It became scripted, just like a sitcom.

"That's why I have no regrets," he said. "No regrets at all."


snip

I think that I may have a slightly different take. Now, don't get me
wrong, I love Norm, Tommy, Richard and the rest of the gang. But if you
are going to criticize Bob for being too "commercial", you have got to
have a good hard laugh at PBS, Russ Morash et al for absolutely and
totally embracing capitalism with "Ask This Old House, Behind This Old
House (on A&E, featuring a lot of Bob Villa), This Old House & The New
Yankee Workshop. Talk about "whoring" your work!


I was looking for that lawsuit against Bob by the guy who bought his
house. While looking in google, I came up with another one: Bob's
website has been spamming and was the very FIRST target of a Can-Spam
lawsuit!

http://www.technewsworld.com/story/33074.html

  #8   Report Post  
Bob Schmall
 
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Default


"Unisaw A100" wrote in message
...
Interestingly enough I just last night saw Steve Thomas on
the History Channel hosting a program about the
Jamestown(e?) colony.

The first time I ever saw Steve Thomas (pre-This Old House)
was on PBS. It was a show about him sailing solo 'round the
world.

OBWW Content:
The Jamestown(e?) fort was made from wood as was Thomas'
sail boat.

UA100, who gets the heebie-jeebies real bad every time he
sees B*b V*l* smiling...


His mouth smiles, but his eyes don't. This is a loan shark in Carhartts.

Bob


  #9   Report Post  
Unisaw A100
 
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Default

Bob Schmall wrote:
His mouth smiles, but his eyes don't. This is a loan shark in Carhartts.



I think Carhartts would burst into flames if they touched
his slimy under belly.

At least that's what I would hope.

UA100
  #10   Report Post  
Larry Jaques
 
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Default

On Sun, 28 Nov 2004 10:55:52 -0500, Tom Watson
spake the words:

"These shows have an angle, like a carpenter who is Playmate of the
Month or an actor who becomes a carpenter," Vila said. "Then there are


That bitch Villa can't dis Robin like that and get away with it,
can he, guys? Let's all write in.


the shows with the theme reminiscent of Queen for a Day. They have a
different approach than I do. I'm here to teach; they are designed
mainly to entertain."


What he could teach, we all learned not to do at a very early age.


"That's why I have no regrets," he said. "No regrets at all."


With the exception of seeing his face on so many crappy commercials,
neither do we.


2004 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights


"Inquirer", huh? Right. I figured that a _real_ newspaper couldn't
have done that interview with a straight face.



-------------------------------------------------------------
give me The Luxuries Of Life * http://www.diversify.com
i can live without the necessities * 2 Tee collections online
-------------------------------------------------------------


  #11   Report Post  
PDQ
 
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Default

For a guy who used to blow into the set late, talk to no one, lord it =
over the rest and try not to get into the work being done by better =
qualified; Villa sure has a high opinion of himself. Can't say I miss =
him.

--=20

PDQ
--
=20
"Larry Jaques" wrote in message =
...
| On Sun, 28 Nov 2004 10:55:52 -0500, Tom Watson
| spake the words:
|=20
| "These shows have an angle, like a carpenter who is Playmate of the
| Month or an actor who becomes a carpenter," Vila said. "Then there =
are
|=20
| That bitch Villa can't dis Robin like that and get away with it,
| can he, guys? Let's all write in.
|=20
|=20
| the shows with the theme reminiscent of Queen for a Day. They have a
| different approach than I do. I'm here to teach; they are designed
| mainly to entertain."
|=20
| What he could teach, we all learned not to do at a very early age.
|=20
|=20
| "That's why I have no regrets," he said. "No regrets at all."
|=20
| With the exception of seeing his face on so many crappy commercials,
| neither do we.
|=20
|=20
| =A9 2004 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights
|=20
| "Inquirer", huh? Right. I figured that a _real_ newspaper couldn't
| have done that interview with a straight face.
|=20
|=20
|=20
| -------------------------------------------------------------
| give me The Luxuries Of Life * http://www.diversify.com=20
| i can live without the necessities * 2 Tee collections online
| -------------------------------------------------------------
  #12   Report Post  
Buck Turgidson
 
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Default


2004 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights


"Inquirer", huh? Right. I figured that a _real_ newspaper couldn't
have done that interview with a straight face.


Don't confuse the Phila Inquirer and National Enquirer. The former is a
first rate newspaper.
  #13   Report Post  
Tom Watson
 
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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 15:59:53 -0500, "Buck Turgidson"
wrote:


2004 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights


"Inquirer", huh? Right. I figured that a _real_ newspaper couldn't
have done that interview with a straight face.


Don't confuse the Phila Inquirer and National Enquirer. The former is a
first rate newspaper.



Actually, living in the Philadelphia area, The Inquirer is a second
rate newspaper.

I'll tell you what Bob had right in what he said:

There are too many shows and TOH has gone the way of worshiping the
gods of conspicuous consumption.

In my view, Bob was better than Steve and Steve is better than whoever
this little pixie is that is doing the show now.

Bob acted just like a contractor and Norm acted just like a carpenter.

After Bob left it was all a show for the sponsors.

I know that Bob sold out - but he sold out to Sears.

Russ Morash sold out to people who can afford not to buy from Sears.


**** Russ Morash.







Regards,
Tom.

"People funny. Life a funny thing." Sonny Liston

Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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