by Bea Peterson
On ABC, Channel 10, Sunday nights, just before 9, for the merest of seconds the words HOOSICK FALLS, with a background of film strips, fill the television screen. It’s a kick! The person who probably gets the biggest kick out of it is George Verschoor. He is the producer of Extreme Makeover Home Edition and his company is Hoosick Falls Productions. Thus, at the end of each Extreme Makeover show, there it is – Hoosick Falls, big as life on the TV screen. He said he often is asked what Hoosick Falls means and where are the falls.
Verschoor was born in Westchester County and grew up in East Hoosick. He attended Hoosick Falls Central School and graduated from Hoosac School in 1978. “I love Hoosick Falls and the people there,” he said. “It’s a unique place.” Though his primary residence is in Los Angeles, CA, he maintains a
home in East Hoosick. He said, “Coming back to Hoosick keeps me grounded. My wife and step-daughters love it.”
He said he keeps in touch with old friends, including Dave Delurey and Gordon Fricke. “We’re a little band of brothers.” They always get together when he comes east, as they did this year for the holidays. He has a sister who lives in Cambridge and another in Florida. “There’s something Rockwellian about Hoosick,” he said. “It has an all American spirit. It’s a great place.”
Verschoor has always had a love for film. His dad worked in television in New York. Being a producer was always his dream. He studied film and television at Syracuse. Then in 1983, with a few hundred dollars he had earned at Delurey Sales & Service, he moved to Los Angeles. He slowly worked his way up the ladder. His major break came in ’91 when he started working on The Real World on MTV. That show is still going on. Then he created and was executive producer of Nashville Star, a Country music star search show. “One of our discoveries was Miranda Lambert who won the Country Music Top Female Vocalist of the Year this year,” he said.
What does a producer do? Verschoor said, “Everything.” He does everything from budget to casting to site selection. “In construction terms, I’m the architect and general contractor and then we go ahead and build it.”
Verschoor describes the schedule for Extreme Makeover Home Edition as intense and those involved with the show as very passionate about what they are doing. “The show is in its eighth season, and we’ve built 175 houses.” He describes Ty Pennington as a great guy and a lot of fun to work with. “All of them Ed, Jillian, Paul, Michael – they’re all terrific,” he added. “We have a great team of over 100 people who do the creative work and the design work and another great team in the field.”
They receive thousands of applications for the show. Verschoor said it is very difficult to make a selection. Weather plays a role as well. “I love the Northeast, but once the weather gets cold, we have to move toward the South.”
Production time varies from four to seven months per house. There will be six more episodes this year. Then there are the special problems. The Christmas show, for example was a house built in Pensacola, FL. It was quite warm, and they needed to use a snow machine for that winter quality. They threw a wedding for a show scheduled to air in January or February. “It was really nice,” said Verschoor. That house was built for a soldier wounded during the shooting at Ft. Hood, TX.
“The way communities come together in the spirit of giving to build these houses is very rewarding. The power of the people is incredible,” said Verschoor. He said there is often a misconception about the houses. For the majority of the owners their expenses go down. Though the houses are bigger, they often cost less to maintain. Frequently mortgages are paid off or families are given funds to help with maintenance costs. “We do keep in touch with every one of the families and it has worked out tremendously well.”
Of course, one of the perks is having your friends appear on a show. Verschoor said John Delurey was in one and while they were filming in Lovett, TX, Mary (Loretan) Jackson and her family came to visit and they should be visible in that episode.