Talking EXTREME MAKEOVER: WEIGHT LOSS EDITION with Exec Prod JD Roth and Trainer Chris Powell

Tonight on ABC, don’t miss the series premiere of EXTREME MAKEOVER: WEIGHT LOSS EDITION, executive produced by JD Roth, Todd A Nelson, and Matt Assmus (MASTER CHEF, THE BIGGEST LOSER, among others).  From ABC, the show is “a unique, non-competitive show about weight loss – unlike anything seen before on television – “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” will document the amazing makeover of eight courageous, “super obese” people who, in an unprecedented 365 days, set out to safely lose half of their body weight, ultimately revealing an amazing metamorphosis. The term “super obese” defines those who exceed their estimated ideal weight by approximately 225 percent and who are roughly 200 pounds or more overweight.   Trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell (“The 650-Pound Virgin”) will guide each of the eight participants through their transformation process by moving into their homes with their families or loved ones. By assuring that they have the proper nourishment and exercise movement, Chris will provide a fresh perspective to individuals whose lives have become unmanageable because of their weight.”

I really enjoyed the show, and I had a chance to speak with JD Roth and Chris Powell about how the show came together, why people should be watching, and what surprised them the most about this 365 day shoot with the 8 participants.

I loved the first episode, I got to screen it.  Very heartfelt and emotional.  You felt the struggle that these people are struggling with.  JD, first for you, where did this show come from?  Why was it something that you wanted to shoot / see made?
JD Roth: First off, in this space, we have a lot of these shows.  It’s always, how can you do it better, how can you help more people.  Tere were plenty of people that we were sending home on airplanes that were just too big for our other shows.  And it just felt like we were sending them home to a most certain death sentence.  Yet they were so committed; they were so sure they could do it.  And I believe them!  And after watching Chris’ 650LB VIRGIN and knowing after 8 years of casting trainers, that these really good ones are hard to find, that I think I found the Michael Jordan of trainers.   And we worked with some of the best, and I have just tons of respect for this guy to take these people on and give so much of himself.  So the idea was, in a competition show, you have a carrot that’s dangled every week, because someone could go home, so they do that extra work in the gym.  You also separate them from society, from all the triggers that got them here in the first place.  You know, put them on a ranch, make a safe atmosphere for them.  How could you do it where you watch someone for a whole year, 365 days, do it on their own.  That’s what makes this show unique, you in essence get the whole season of some of our shows. Because you watch Rachel, as you did, go from day one to a completely different person in 42 minutes, and that’s never been done on television before, so to crack that model of how to make the show for the same amount of money that the other primetime shows are made, but shoot for 365 days, that was what made the show unique.

And Chris, were you involved in the get go?  JD, was he who was on your mind even before you saw his 650LB VIRGIN?
JD: He was involved from the start.  We would not have made the show without him.

Chris, why was this a show you wanted to be a part of?
Chris Powell: I mean, how could I say no to creating something with such integrity, and something that would allow me to express my passion for doing what I doing, and to save 8 lives.  It was awesome to have the opportunity and the backing to be able to help these amazing individuals and really to take them through this transformation and allow them to tap into their true potential.  It was really a no brainer.  When they contact me, and I started flying out to 3 Ball to begin the creative process and it came to fruition, it was beautiful, this brainchild of everything that 3 Ball has gone through, and we sat down and they said, how would you do a show with integrity?  And I said, you know, this is what I would love to do, and JD said, we’re right on board with that, that’s what we were thinking, and so let’s get together and let’s do this the right way.  It’s so applicable to everybody’s who watching.  Because it’s done at home and there is no competition, and the struggles that these people go through, they’re the struggles that everybody goes through.  I mean, we hit upon everything.  And that’s what so beautiful about it.

JD: I think, you know, anyone can watch this show, you want to lost 5 lbs, 10lbs, you know, even if weight isn’t an issue. I always say to people, there’s always something going on inside you that you want to change, and to be inspired by someone else, to think that there’s no way that they can get pieces of their live back, and they do?  Maybe it inspires you to do something as well.

I like too, that we saw in Rachel’s episode that her family wasn’t 100% on board, because they didn’t always know how to help her.  Everybody deals with that.
Chris: It was definitely a struggle working with Rachel’s family at first.  It’s one thing when I’m there with them, and I’m trying to get them to adopt this lifetstyle around her, to create this support group.  However, I can’t be there all the time and as soon as I leave, they start to go back to their old habits.  The novelty of the whole experience, it wears off over a couple of months, and this is show over a full year, so people get real after a while.  You know, they put their best food forward at first, and then after a certain amount of time, real life happens, and it’s great, because that’s what we can see and what we can capture, and that’s when I can be there to help Rachel identify those issues and really help her family through it.  Yeah, her family, they weren’t supportive at first, and it did take longer than usual, but the best part about it is they got it in the end, and halfway through her transformation, they started supporting her, and my gosh, her mom lost 40 pounds by the end!

What surprised you the most, being involved in this show?
JD: What leaps off for me, is that I always knew that people who were overweight had it in them, that there was an athlete inside of them, but I wasn’t aware that people this size could be so committed to making a change in their lives. And it shows you – when you see people, weight is an outward problem, it’s visual, but everyone on the planet is struggling, but these people are faced with it.  People look at them, they struggle with jobs, they struggle with every aspect of their life.  They’re so used to loving failure, and we teach them that that’s not okay.  They’re so happy with “I knew I couldn’t get that job, I told you couldn’t get that guy” and we teach them to start fighting back and get control of their life, and when they do, it doesn’t take that much to wake these people up and make a big change.

Chris: Kind of along the same lines, I have never worked in a short time line like this, and I know it’s strange to say that a year is a short timeline for me, but it really is.  Talking about 100s of pounds lost, I can say that one of the most surprising thing for me was those pivotal moments of awakening for these individuals and how soon it happened in the process.  I think it was just having the resources to get them there early, whereas before, I was kind of a one man show, just a trainer going to someone’s home, working on the relationship, and building that relationship of trust with them, and helping them through the process.  Whereas, with this, I’ve never traveled to these different individuals, and worked with them in their own respective homes, and rotating through to build up that trust, to get them to the place of awakening where they start to realize and tap into their true potential. And when that happens, one of the most powerful things that I can have is that moment where they become coachable.  That moment where they open up and the trust is there, and when they’re truly coachable, that’s that moment where they don’t rely on me believing in them any more, but they start to believe in themselves, and it actually happens early in the process and that’s what blew me away.

I wish you both success with this show; I feel like it’s an important show that people need to be watching!
JD: Yay, thanks so much!
Chris: Thank you!

One comment

  • Patty

    I watched this over the weekend. I am torn. I am glad it takes place over a year so it’s actually more realistic than say, the Biggest Loser. My issue with weight loss shows is that people in real life actually WORK and don’t have 8 hours a day to spend in the gym. This show, while not showing how working out fits into her lifestyle show how her family sabotages her efforts to lose weight. THIS is what I think is one of the biggest issues to anyone losing weight. People say they will support you but they lose interest after a month. So yeah show for showing her crappy family.

    I will probably DVR this and watch on the weekend. I really like Chris Powell.