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HGTV passes on ‘Richmond Rehabbers’ reality show

Jonathan Spiers July 19, 2017 8

Film crews inside the Battery Park house featured in the 'Richmond Rehabbers' pilot. Courtesy Breese Romano.

Film crews inside the Battery Park house featured in the ‘Richmond Rehabbers’ pilot. (Photo courtesy Breese Romano)

A local house renovation firm’s shot at national stardom won’t continue on television – at least, not for now.

The pilot episode for “Richmond Rehabbers,” a reality TV show featuring Richmond-based Cobblestone Development Group, is not being picked up for series by HGTV, said Cobblestone founder Josh Romano.

Romano, who starred in the hour-long episode with wife and business partner Breese, said the pilot performed well when it premiered May 7, attracting 1.4 million viewers. The episode aired a second time later that month, but Romano said producers have since informed them that the show is not being optioned for a series – at least not in its current format.

Breese and Josh Romano. (Jonathan Spiers)

Breese and Josh Romano. (Jonathan Spiers)

“We’re still in communication with people there, and everybody’s been super-professional,” Romano said. “It came down to more about business based on numbers.”

Romano said he suspects that HGTV may be trying to get away from home renovation shows starring couples, though he stressed that producers never told him that. The cable television channel’s lineup includes several shows featuring husband-and-wife teams, such as “Fixer Upper,” “Flip or Flop” and “Home Town.”

“My instincts would say that they’re going another way, another direction,” Romano said. “I think HGTV is looking to get back to their roots and get back to the design-heavy shows. I think they’re getting away from the married couple; they have enough of that.”

Despite the decision, Romano said the possibility remains that a show of some sort involving Cobblestone could develop at some point.

“Maybe a design show or something of that nature. We don’t know yet,” he said. “We’re still talking to producers.”

The pilot was produced by Seattle-based Screaming Flea Productions, which also produces the A&E show “Hoarders,” whose past host – Richmond native and entrepreneur Matt Paxton – suggested the Romanos to HGTV. Paxton, whose Legacy Navigator startup recently secured some West End storage space, is married to a friend of Breese.

Filmed over four months, the “Richmond Rehabbers” pilot followed the Romanos and their crew as they renovated a two-story Foursquare house in Battery Park. The couple, licensed real estate agents with One South Realty Group, worked with a family relocating here from Georgia who agreed to be featured.

Watch the intro to the “Richmond Rehabbers” pilot:

The episode included a visit to local architectural salvage depot Caravati’s and featured footage of Carytown and local landmarks. It also featured Romano’s father, John “Pops” Romano, who Josh said was a hit with viewers.

“My dad actually had a fan club. Somebody sent him golf clubs,” Romano said.

Should another version of the show go forward, Romano said it likely would not include him, as he said the experience revealed challenges of filming a TV show on top of running his company. He said business has picked up as a result of the show’s exposure, adding to a workload that he said would be difficult to manage with a series’ time commitments.

Romano said response to the show has included interest from investors, requests for speaking engagements and inquiries from people wanting to get involved with the company.

While they’re disappointed the show won’t continue with more episodes, Romano said he and Breese are happy with the experience.

“None of us feel bad. We all feel really good about everything. All the feedback has been really positive,” he said. “They were phenomenal to work with, and it’s been a great experience overall. We’re very grateful to HGTV for the opportunity.

“If there’s (another) opportunity, yeah, we’ll do something else,” he said. “I don’t think the door’s shut.”

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8 Comments »

  1. Clayton Moore July 19, 2017 at 8:26 am - Reply

    The show was dull and the Romanos have no discernible personality. Producers should have focused on the dad.

  2. Brian Glass July 19, 2017 at 11:55 am - Reply

    I agree with Clayton Moore’s comment above, except I don’t think the dad that that much of an asset.

  3. BEVERLY CHATTMAN July 19, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I WOULD OF ENJOYED WATCHING THIS SERIES..TO BAD YOU WON’T GIVE THEM A CHANCE AT LEAST MORE THAN 1 SHOW….

  4. Kay Christensen July 19, 2017 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    Boo Hooo!

  5. ANTHONY LEWIS July 20, 2017 at 1:21 am - Reply

    With a THIRD version “Flip or Flop” about to premiere, I’d say that the assessment on why HGTV didn’t pick up this show, is likely wrong.

  6. Steve Willis July 20, 2017 at 7:15 am - Reply

    Breese and Josh are amazing people. I have the pleasure of having a personal relationship with them. I can tell you that Josh is actually funny as hell, and a blast to be around. His true personality did not convey during the episode. I thought the episode very good and professionally done. Both the stars and the show itself “matures” as the players become more comfortable with filming. I wish that the network would have given the Romanos a chance. I’m sure they could have cultivated a hit. Much love to the Romano’s

  7. Brian Glass July 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Steve: The network did give the Romano’s a chance. They had a pilot show. The competition is fierce. Unfortunately they didn’t make the cut.

  8. Josh Romano July 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Steve, Thank you for the kind words and the ongoing support. You are a great friend.

    In response to the other comments; My wife, myself and my dad gave it our all. Our perspective has been positive in all matters, seems to serve us well.

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