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.“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.”