Dan Harrison, Fox EVP of program planning and content strategy, never wanted to be in the acquisitions game — but COVID
Dan Harrison never wanted “Holmes Family Effect” for Fox, but here we are.
When the coronavirus pandemic halted all television production in the United States, the Fox Entertainment EVP of program planning and content strategy had to get creative — and get on the phone with suppliers. First, Harrison acquired “L.A.’s Finest” from Spectrum.
Then he went international.
OK, so Canada, where the Holmes Family operates both its building and television business, isn’t that far. It’s also proven to be a pretty good place to import shows from. “Schitt’s Creek” found enormous success coming down from Canada, and NBC has plugged some scheduling holes with medical dramas “Transplant” and “Nurses.”
It just makes sense. For starters, setting aside French for a second, we share a language (in addition to a border and, generally, a culture). And these days, it feels like half of our American productions are actually shot in Vancouver anyway.
Harrison, who told TheWrap he’d much rather Fox be putting on its own shows, liked the CBC show’s small hour-count (four), availability and sheer niceness.
So here we are.
One may not think of Fox — or even broadcast television — as the home of home renovation shows. At least not these days, with HGTV booming and the DIY Network about to rebrand as Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network.
But in our conversation with the Harvard Law School grad (so yeah, he’s smart), Harrison pointed to a “long history” of home renovation shows on broadcast television, most famously ABC’s former smash hit “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” (Though of course even that series has since moved to HGTV after a lengthy hiatus.)
Holmes has actually been on Fox before as part of 2015’s “Home Free.” That preexisting relationship helped, Harrison said of the decision to bring Mike and his kids down (via the airwaves — the episodes, taped in Canada, were in the can).
Harrison likened Holmes, who is known by fans of his previous series like “Holmes on Homes” as being a real stickler for focusing on quality construction and doing everything the right way, to another larger-than-life personality who has been quite successful on Fox.
“He is a singular voice in home renovation, one that feels a bit like Gordon Ramsay does to food,” Harrison said of Holmes. “And they are both these terrific brands. And we are the home of Gordon Ramsay, and we love what Gordon does.”
Harrison also loves the message of “Holmes Family Effect.”
“It feels very 2021, in that Mike and his team are helping really beloved community institutions with makeovers — like a public trade school, like an incubator of diverse and inclusive businesses,” he said of the four-episode show. “There’s just a real feel-good, contemporary take on what Mike does that feels relevant. And we like these big personalities in our reality shows, and that’s certainly Mike. So this felt like, for four hours, to fill a gap during the pandemic, like a good fit for our audience.”
But that does not mean Harrison is about to order a second season of the leased property.
“Look, I know Mike is very busy with his commitments to different cable networks and cable shows,” he said. “We were able to work with him in 2015, so never say never.”
Another Holmes collaboration with Fox would likely look a lot different, however — especially in the production credits. As will the financials for Harrison’s home network.
“But I think if we need another Mike Holmes show, we’d look at it, hopefully, with a post-pandemic lens and be able to develop a show for Fox with him,” Harrison said. “That’s not making any promises about that, that’s just saying as we come out of the pandemic, we will hope to do fewer acquisitions overall and be able to produce the original shows that are signatures of the Fox brand.”
“Holmes Family Effect” premieres Tuesday at 8/7c on Fox.
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