Finally, the day is here! It’s our long anticipated living room makeover show! But as beautiful as it is, the star is not the living room. It’s the quiet yet effective father of four, Chris Agena, and his bubbly and organized wife, Jo Ann.
Chris and Jo Ann are a totally typical Hawaii couple. He’s a postal worker, she’s a schoolteacher, and they’ve never been in front of a TV camera in their life. They’re the focus of the show: they learn the basic RSVPstyle design principles and transform their living room—with a little help from me—but their four kids manage to steal the show every time they’re on camera. >wink wink<>
With only seven weeks to design, remodel, decorate and film the entire grueling process, Chris and Jo Ann quickly learned the ropes of video production. They got used to the pose—being photographed displaying everything on their hands, feet and backs—so that when shooting of one scene continued on different days, they could show up wearing the exact same things. After the first day, Jo Ann learned to let us know whenever there was a shine on her nose, and I’d get out my compact and give her a quick touchup.
The first time we filmed their confessionals, we had them stand on top of apple crates to get the best angle. After that, Chris was always ready with those crates. Was he a great man about the house! If the crew couldn’t get around to doing something, whether it was touching up paint, screwing in light bulbs, even sewing—yes, I repeat, sewing—the curtains for his dining room, Chris was ready to volunteer.
Jo Ann kept her cell phone on standby and was always ready to field family emergencies, whether it was her mom calling about a sick uncle, or a message from the kids. In between takes, there she was, checking up on the kids and other relatives and still managing to run her household.
And although we spent little time with them on camera, we sure got to know the Agena kids pretty well, and boy, are they charmers and stars in their own right! Their friends have been telling them they’ve seen them on TV and in the newspaper, and now they’ll get their primetime TV debut!
One of my favorite moments was on the final day of filming, when we took this picture for a newspaper ad. I yelled, OK, everybody put your arms out! Chris, Jo Ann, Matthew and Caleb were at one end; at the other, I held Sarah’s hand. Little Noah, who always seems to have a special little smile for me, slyly pushed Sarah’s hand out of mine so that he could hold my hand instead. When Sarah said hey! and grabbed my hand back, I held both their hands in mine. It was a perfect way to keep the peace, get the shot and end the show—and it’s still a charmer of a memory for me.
Yes, the Agenas truly are stars, and they are ready for their hour in prime time!