NEW YORK — Chip and Joanna Gaines have made a name for themselves with their talent for renovating homes. They are now ready to put their skills to work building a complete television network.
The couple known for restoring old homes and buildings in styles ranging from industrial to farmhouse are making the transition to television executives with the launch of the first steps to their Magnolia network on Thursday. It will feature dozens of hours of new unscripted content and archival shows.
“It has become an exciting project for us and we are so excited about it. And now we’re finally here, and we can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been working on,” said Joanna Gaines.
Shows will range from Atlanta farmer Jamila Norman helping families transform their outdoor spaces to designer Brian Patrick Flynn beautifying indoor spaces. Motels get a makeover in one show and vans are transformed into tiny homes in another.
Joanna Gaines points out that what Magnolia Network will primarily offer isn’t so much scripted shows as “real people doing real things.”
“The thing that I think wakes us up in the morning and gets us going is the idea that we can tell people’s stories,” she added.
Andrew Zimmern, an Emmy and four James Beard Award-winning television chef, has signed on to host “Family Dinner,” in which he visits families across America to hear their stories and explore their food history. He has known the Gaineses for many years.
“They are very authentic. They are what they are. They are consistent. They are reliable. They believe in risk taking and they believe in vulnerability,” he said. “They didn’t put any limits on what kind of show I was going to do. They basically let me do whatever show I thought was important.
Another host they exploited was Clint Harp, a carpenter who had been featured on the couple’s influential show “Fixer Upper.” Harp will make his debut in “Restoration Road with Clint Harp”, after traveling across the country in search of items to repair.
“Joanna didn’t have to call me to continue making furniture for ‘Fixer Upper.’ She didn’t have to. They were fine on their own,” he said. “But she kept giving me opportunities. And I’ve told her that to her face and in front of other people before, at how grateful I am… And of course every time that phone rang and I saw his name on it, it was like, ‘Yeah, what’s up? Let’s go!'”
The lifestyle channel will make its digital debut first, on Discovery+ and the Magnolia app. Viewing requires a Discovery + Streaming subscription, which starts at $5 per month and includes the app. Magnolia Network will then take over Discovery’s DIY network when it hits cable in January 2022. Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t promising the same old programming.
“I think it’s pretty good that we don’t come from a background that understands television, honestly, because then we’d be kind of stuck in our minds about ‘OK, we need a formula, we need a format,” Joanna Gaines said. “For us, it was just like, ‘No, we want to find people who do this authentically. We want to tell their story. We are not going to shape their history.
The launch comes at an interesting time in the lifestyle ecosystem, when many people locked down during the pandemic are eager to get out of their homes and travel.
“I think the timing is actually quite serendipitous and comes just as people are looking for inspiration on where to go,” said Allison Page, president of Discovery, Inc.’s joint venture with Magnolia.
The couple also found encouragement from another personality who built a television empire – Oprah Winfrey. Chip and Joanna Gaines met Winfrey almost recently and came away inspired: “Something about it really made us believe it was possible,” said Chip Gaines. “That she really believed in us meant a lot to us.”
Joanna Gaines, left, and Chip Gaines pose for a portrait in New York City on March 29, 2016. The couple made a name for themselves thanks to their talent for renovating homes. Now they’re making the transition to TV executives with the July 15 launch of the first leg to their Magnolia network, featuring dozens of hours of new unscripted content and archival shows.