One of the biggest reality series of the past decade is coming back. Chip and Joanna Gaines are reviving their hugely popular HGTV series Fixer Upper for a new season on a new network.
The Fixer Upper reboot will air exclusively on Magnolia Network, Discovery’s joint venture with the Gaineses, and will premiere at the network’s launch, currently eyed for early 2021. Magnolia, whose original Oct. 4 rollout was delayed by the coronavirus-related production shutdown, also announced two new original series greenlights, to an untitled project featuring interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn and Self Employed (wt) with entrepreneur Jonathan Morris.
Adding a new season of Fixer Upper represents a major coup for upstart Magnolia, which will take over Discovery’s DIY Network after a rebrand. The original series ran for five seasons on HGTV. It was the no. 1 unscripted show on all of cable television with 75 million viewers tuning in for the show’s fifth season, including 19.6 million on a weekly basis.
“The day we wrapped our final episode of Fixer Upper, we really believed it was a chapter closed. We knew we needed a break and a moment to catch our breath. But we also knew we weren’t done dreaming about ways to make old things new again,” said Chip and Joanna Gaines. “These past few years, we’ve continued tackling renovations and projects, doing the work we’re passionate about, but I don’t think either of us anticipated how the show would become such a permanent fixture in our hearts. We’ve missed sharing the stories of these families and their homes with you, and we’re excited to do that again very soon!”
The Gaineses surprised their Magnolia Network executive team a few weeks ago when they told them that they wanted to bring Fixer Upper back, Magnolia Network President President Allison Page told Deadline.
“We had not been planning with this network to include Fixer Upper,” she said. “When they said good-bye to the show three years ago next month, they said they needed a break but as it turns out — and thankfully — a break is literally what it was. We did not expect it or see it coming, and it’s a wonderful wonderful surprise. Fixer Upper is a cultural phenomenon that took an entire programming category by storm when it launched in 2014, and we can think of no better way to launch this network.”
Almost two and a half years after the April 2018 series finale of Fixer Upper, the series, which introduced Chip and Joanna to America, continues to resonate with viewers, along with its likable stars. The four-hour Magnolia Network preview on DIY on April 26, which featured classic episodes of Fixer Upper with commentary from the Gaineses, set ratings records for DIY among adults 25-54.
The ratings success made the network’s team take a look at the Fixer Upper library for innovative ways to exploit it and give old episodes a fresh spin.
“We had those kinds of conversations how we might use that, but the idea of shooting brand new ones from scratch we hadn’t talked about; it was the icing on what already felt like a good cake,” Page said.
Magnolia Network and the Gaines’ production company Blind Nil, which is behind the reboot, are going into pre-production this week. Along with today’s announcement, the new season of Fixer Upper is launching a casting search.
“As with other other shows, we take it day by day, we plan optimistically, and hopefully we can keep filming and if we have to shut down we will shut down,” Page said.
That had been the case with other Magnolia series.
In April, weeks into the Hollywood production shutdown due to COVID-19, the network’s original October 4 launch date was pushed. “It became very clear that, while we had a lot of of individual shows, we weren’t going to be in a position to have enough of episodes of each of the shows,” Page said. “We would’ve probably been fine for launch and maybe for a week or two but to have full seasons of all the shows that were in production, we realized that we were going to need to delay, and we committed to ourselves to try and hit as early 2021 as possible.”
Page expects a new launch date for Magnolia Network to be set in the next couple of months as the situation surrounding the pandemic remains fluid.
“There are places where we started again snd places where had to shut down again,” Page said of production on the network’s original series. “We are shooting in so many states, the rules very, and we go through a pretty rigorous process with the Discovery program management team to review every place we are filming, how many people will be there, what’s the size of the crew, what’s the state of the situation in the different localities.”
The newly ordered Brian Patrick Flynn series and Self Employed join Magnolia’s previously announced 10 original unscripted series on the network’s inaugural slate. Of those 10, a few shows are almost finished with all the filming completed and only editing remaining, others are partially shot, and some were in pre-production when they were shut down and we are standing by ready to go.
“In many cases we are looking at shows that are shooting outside with very small crews, so we are able to continue filming, and the stories have changed too,” Page said. “The shows are about people and the lives that they are living so the editorial for the shows has evolved. In many cases with very small crews, we are able to stay with them and make that part of the show,” Page said.
In the untitled Brian Patrick Flynn series, self-taught interior designer Flynn’s untitled project showcases his eclectic yet distinctive style. Along with his team of skilled designers, Flynn creates the most breathtaking spaces and tackles decorating projects on any budget or within any scope, all with a dash of humor.
Self Employed (wt) follows Fort Worth, Texas-based entrepreneur Jonathan Morris as he travels the United States meeting some of the country’s most inspiring small business owners. Together, they will share stories of unwavering resilience, insatiable ambition and the winding roads they’ve traveled to successfully build their dream jobs.
Both projects had been in the works at the network for almost a year. Their production will be adjusted to the pandemic.
“In the case of Brian, the show is largely about projects he does in and around his home — he lives in Atlanta — so that would probably be a little easier,” Page said.
Self Employed’s Morris is based not far from Magnolia’s home base in Waco. While the intent is for Morris to travel across the country, the first season will likely be modified where it films in Texas towns within driving distance of his homebase.
The other series on Magnolia’s original slate — most of them in the home renovation and food space — include Growing Floret, Home on the Road with JOHNNYSWIM, deVOL Kitchens (f.k.a. Bespoke Kitchens), Family Dinner, Restoration Road with Clint Harp, The Fieldhouse, Super Dad, Home Work, The Lost Kitchen and Inn the Works.
Ahead of its launch, Magnolia Network is launching a behind-the-scenes digital series entitled Road to Launch: Magnolia Network. The series will begin this month on Magnolia’s web site and all of its social channels and will feature a conversation between the Gaineses and talent from the network’s new series.
While there have been bumps on the road trying to launch a new network amid a pandemic, there has been some silver lining too.
“It’s been a bumpy road but a bumpy road that has been filled with some gifts of space and time and opportunity and the ability to film a preview special and talk to viewers,” Page said. “The opportunity to be live in a sense even prior to launch is a gift, I think a lot of it is how you look at it and looking for opportunities in difficult times.”