Drew and Jonathan Scott dish on ‘Celebrity IOU’
“Celebrity IOU” returns for its second season Monday at 9 p.m.
In the series, which set HGTV viewership records in Season 1, popular renovation experts (and identical twins) Drew and Jonathan Scott, aka the “Property Brothers,” work with celebrities to surprise someone who’s impacted his or her life in a positive way — by renovating their homes in pay-it-forward fashion.
Monday’s four-episode season opener (9 p.m.) includes Jonathan’s girlfriend, actress Zooey Deschanel, surprising her best friend, Sarah, with a home makeover. Among the celebs featured this season are “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley, Allison Janney (“Mom”) and Rainn Wilson.
Drew and Jonathan, 42, answered some questions from The Post about “Celebrity IOU” and what goes into producing their hit series.
Besides Zooey D., how do you find celebrities who want to participate in the series?
Drew: It took five years for us to get this idea off the ground — Viola Davis was the first person to say yes, without hesitation. In the first season, we had to reach out to a lot of celebrities we knew to spread the word about the new show. With the success of Season 1 and seeing how it transformed people’s lives, now celebs are coming to us saying, “I know someone who deserves this … please help.” It’s really something special.
Is there a “Celebrity IOU” template when choosing the episodes you want to shoot? Are there ground rules?
Jonathan: We have no problem whatsoever convincing celebrities to do demolition work. Allison Janney called it a type of therapy, which it really is! What surprised us, but probably shouldn’t have, is how excited everyone gets about the design side of it. Not everyone has the ability to visually pull a room together. But most of the celebs have been really great at it. And because they know the recipients so well, their input is invaluable.
Drew: Budget is different for every project. We talk about budget on the front end, but that tends to be decided more by the kind of space we’re doing: inside or outside, kitchen or bedrooms, etc. and what kind of permits are involved to ensure it’s not something that will drag out for a year or more.
Jonathan: Ultimately, the goal is to help those who need it the most or who deserve it the most. The celebs we work with are exceptionally humble people and so grateful and thankful for having the recipient in their lives. The celebs get hands-on throughout the entire project but, of course, we’re also navigating through complex schedules and sometimes other restrictions. Thankfully, we haven’t had a problem with scheduling any of our celebrities.
Has there been one overriding emotion regarding the stars who want to renovate a friend/mentor’s residence?
Jonathan: An overwhelming sense of gratitude. Every celebrity we work with cannot stop talking about how thankful they are for this person’s role in their life. How selflessly they give of their time and how they’d never expect anything this special be done in return. Whether they are related or not, they are always family. Some of the stories have involved real tragedy, others personal sacrifice. But every single story has been special and something that will drive the audience to ugly-cry.
Are there any hoped-for ”Celebrity IOU” entries (without naming names) that didn’t work out?
Drew: Thankfully we’ve had a lot of luck in that regard, and the people we work with are amazing and willing to do whatever it takes. There have been a couple of celebrities who got pulled away due to other projects and had to postpone. Also COVID caused us to cancel some planned episodes due to travel. And there was one where the potential recipient managed to sniff out what was happening and really felt that the kindness would be best offered to somebody more in need. That alone brought a tear to my eye. We’re really dealing with the most kind, generous, humble folks on this show. And it’s inspiring.
How long does it take to complete the average “Celebrity IOU” renovation?
Jonathan: On our other shows like “Property Brothers: Forever Home” or “Brother vs. Brother,” a six-week renovation is pretty standard, and that’s after we’ve gotten all the permits and contractors in place. On “Celebrity IOU,” we cut that timeline in half, so you really are looking at a three-to-four week renovation with a dedicated and brilliant crew and months of prep work and logistics. Trust me, it’s all in the prep and planning. We’ll literally order most of the supplies in advance to our warehouse so we’re never waiting on stuff to arrive.