The home improvement show now seems like a staple on television but this wasn’t always the case. One of the first shows to go behind the scenes of the trend is Bravo’s “Flipping Out.”
“At the time that we came on, there were two other shows about this subject,” reveals Lauren Lexton, Co-Founder Authentic Entertainment and Executive Producer of the show, “but they both went away pretty quickly.”
She attributes this to the fact that these other shows were solely about the mechanics of renovating and decorating and not personality driven the way “Flipping Out” is.
The stars of the show are entrepreneur Jeff Lewis and his staff which include loyal assistant Jenni Pulos, Lewis’ partner Gage Edward, employees Vanina Alfaro and Andy Coleman, and maid Zoila Chavez.
This merry band of co-workers is what makes “Flipping Out” more than just your average home improvement show.
“It’s really a workplace drama-edy centered around Jeff with a funny, crazy ensemble cast,” explains Lexton. She goes on to say that new viewers shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the show, saying, “People who have never watched the show have may have formed an opinion about Jeff, thinking, ‘this guy is too much.’ But, if you come in fresh to this season, it’s honestly is one of the funniest workplace comedies around. Yes, we can all admit that Jeff is over the top, but that’s what makes it funny. The stakes are high because Jeff is running a company, but the comedy in the workplace is really able to come through in a way that not a lot of shows are able to do.”
Lewis’ high-end clients this season include George Eads, star of the CBS drama “CSI,” and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, best known for his past as a member of the classic ensemble show, “Saved by the Bell.”
Lexton also wants people to know that, “Jeff doesn’t just magically have these clients, he’s really worked to acquire these clients. These are people who don’t need to be on TV; they’re already are on TV. Jeff is just really good at what he does so people seek him out.”
Drew Hoegl, also an Executive Producer of “Flipping Out,” says, “These clients don’t just remodel their homes to work with him, they have real needs and they want someone who knows what they’re doing and clearly Jeff knows what he’s doing.”
Whenever Lewis completes a project, he always has to present his work to the client and there is an inherent moment when the audience is waiting, along with Lewis, to see if his work is acceptable to the client. This adds a bit of welcome suspense to the show that also serves to further clarify the level to which Lewis will go to stay true to his design sense while still working hard to please his clients; goals that are often at odds but yet have to be meshed to keep Lewis’ company successful.
Aside from the design aspect of the show, Lexton contends that, “Jeff’s work is really great, but it’s all the things that go on around that work that add the lightness and humor to the show.”
Hoegl adds “The fact that nothing is really off limits with this group is what makes this show so real. In fact, that’s really the theme of this season; that nothing is off-limits; not in what they say or how they act. But, while it’s awfully funny, it’s important to know that in the end that ‘no limits’ attitude can cause some turmoil and strife as well.”
Hoegl is speaking about the interaction within the staff, and when dealing with clients, which often seems to cross the line in terms of professionalism. “In the past, the whole idea of a Human Resources department within this company has been a little bit of joke. Jenni dealt with it only because someone had to do it, but this season that role becomes more and more important because of the nature of some of the things that Jenni has to handle. “
Aside from Lewis, Jenni Pulos is really also a major star of the show as well and this season, along with struggling to keep other employees in line, Jenni is also working on a major project of her own – a baby.
The question of what will happen in the workplace when Pulos takes maternity leave hangs heavy during the course of the season.
“First, I want fans of Jenni to know that she’s in every episode this season,” says Lexton. “What’s happening in her personal life is definitely part of this season. Now, having said that, and I don’t want to spoil too much here, but when Jenni’s away there are some serious problems that arise in the office and then when she comes back they hit a point where something needs to be done.”
Hoegl adds, “Let’s just say that when Jenni does go on maternity leave, there is a new appreciation of all that she really does for everyone.”
Pulos actually was supposed to be the star of her own show originally, but as fate would have it, her quest to create her own personal on-air vehicle actually lead to the creation of “Flipping Out.” It’s a fascinating story, as Lexton tells it.
“We were casting for a husband and wife talk show for a network so we held an open call and 300 couples showed up. One couple who came throug,h who weren’t right for the show but that we really liked, were Jenni Pulos and Chris Elwood (Pulos former husband). They got our attention because their headshots were Jenni dressed as a man and Chris as a woman. So we developed a show with them called the ‘Wannabes’ that was about two actors who had been in Hollywood a long time and who keep trying to make it and every time they would get close to a job, someone else would step in and get the job. So, we’re literally filming a promotional piece for Jenni and Chris for that show and they suggested that we film their boss. Well, Jeff Lewis was their boss. When we showed the piece to people, everyone was like ‘we like this couple, but we can’t do a show about wannabe actors, our audience just won’t go for it, but their boss is really funny, can we do something with him?’ So, sadly, we had to call Jenni and Chris and say, ‘Do you guys mind if we change the show to be about Jeff instead?’ They were lovely about it and that’s how “Flipping Out” came to be.”
Now in its seventh season, the actual production of the show is no longer a challenge for the behind-the-scenes team. “After all this time, the same people have been working on this for so long we’re like a family at this point. We miss each other when we’re not together but then after we’re together awhile we’re ready to kill each other; just like a real family” explains Hoegl.
He goes on to say that “Through all of the seasons the thing that we try to do is just make production run as smooth as possible so Jeff, Jenni and everyone else working for Jeff, can just do their thing. We really want to be just as fly-on-the-wall as possible. We just follow them. We don’t tell them what to do and what you see is just their real interaction.”
The focus of this season of “Flipping Out,” as Hoegl explains it, is about “Jeff putting together the team that’s going to take his business into the future and how he handles that is interesting.
Lexton agrees, adding, “Jeff is an entrepreneur, so there’s a real sink or swim aspect to this work as well. He has to generate business and do a good job.”
That’s exactly what keeps the show going, insists Hoegl. “Jeff’s always taken a big swing in whatever he does. Whenever you see the next thing in his life, you’re left wondering, ‘How far can this guy go?’ That’s the fuel that fires this show and really there is no end to that supply source so we’re in it for the long haul. I truly hope that viewers will come along for the ride because it’s going to bumpy and crazy and fun. How can it not be with this group?”
For added fun, fans of Lewis can follow him on twitter using the handle @JFJeffLewis. Also, Jenni Pulos fans can check out her new book entitled “Grin and Beat it: How to Be Happy No Matter What Reality Throws Your Way.”
“Flipping Out” airs on Bravo. For exact showtimes and more information about the show, please visit Bravo’s official website here.