Starting on Monday, September 8, a different sort of program is coming to syndication, one that emphasizes a positive message and trying to do good versus arguments, drama, and other daytime TV tropes. The show is entitled “Fix It and Finish It,” and every week host Antonio Sabato Jr. and his crew work with different people from across the country to help renovate rooms and spaces for those who need it most. Take a look at the promo at the bottom of the article for more, or visit the channel guide on the show’s website to see if it’s coming on in your area.
Recently, we sat down with Sabato, who has been renovating for much of his life in addition to his acting career, while he was in the process of filming the show to discuss his work, what the show means to him, and more. We’ll start off with the disclaimer that we conducted this interview well before the news about Antonio being on “Dancing with the Stars” this season was even in the rumor stage.
CarterMatt – Since you started filming, have you gotten the chance to see some cool places that you hadn’t been before?
Antonio Sabato Jr. – Yeah, from Mississippi to Louisiana to Alabama, even Tuscon where we started, we saw some cool places … I’ve got to say, this is just an awesome opportunity for me. I’m blessed to have this job. I haven’t had a bad day, and I don’t intend to have one. It’s incredible to be able to wake up in the morning and do what I do.
So travel is a big part of this process?
I see a lot of beautiful places, but I also see a lot of beautiful faces. Families crying and screaming with joy … I ambush these families, they don’t know that I’m coming. I knock at their door, and they are in tears every single day. It’s a different journey with my entire crew, and everyone from the local contractors to the design team I get. [The feeling] is hard to describe, but you’ll get a chance to see it when the show airs.
What is the general reaction you get when you show up? Is it just excitement that someone is coming to help with [a renovation], or celebration that they are seeing you, this actor that they know from various things?
I got all of that. (Laughs.) There was laughter, crying. I had kids running down the street. They’re jumping up and down; they can’t even speak. They just have to stop and think about what’s going on. It’s a surreal moment, and I see it with my own eyes, every time and every day when I [show up].
What has this done for you when it comes to giving you an appreciation for the rest of the world? We all sort of live in our own closed-off worlds, and really don’t often think about other people outside of our own little sphere. This is an opportunity to go out and work and speak with people that you [or anyone] may not otherwise.
We need more of this. It gives me hope. This show, you can watch and it can make you feel good.
We do each project every day, but at the end of the afternoon, we are done. We go home and these people have to stay there. We have to change their lives forever … I try to have the positive attitude with my crew, I start the day with a prayer. It means so much to me; these people have lives, and we want to make them better.
How long have you had an interest in doing this sort of design and renovation work?
Since I was a little boy. First of all I love smashing stuff and starting from scratch: Walls, concrete, whatever. I’ll drive a car through it. I love taking things down, starting fresh, and doing it right. I love fixing things. It’s just part of who I am … Now that I’m doing it on a daily basis, it’s even better.
There are some other renovation shows, so what do you think will make this one stand out? Obviously this one has Antonio Sabato Jr., for one.
Well, this one is different for a few reasons. We’re doing this on a daily basis, so each project will be done every day. So Monday through Friday we’re doing five different homes, five different renovations, and it’s instant gratification for that half hour. It’s starts very fast, it’s very educational [with] electrical tips, things you should do at home, and things you should not do at home.
By the time you watch [each episode], you’ve got it. It’s syndicated and it’s a daytime renovation show, which has never been done before. So syndicated? First time. Daytime? First time. Using local contractors and designers and [much more]? First time. I’m in it? First time. (Laughs.)
So have you built up some good friendships with some of these crew members over time?
I’m making a lot of friends with contractors, landscapers, and designers. I’m learning a lot, and then I’m going back to my house and if I have a question I call [and ask someone I work with].
Also with the homeowners, I like to keep in touch after we’re done to see if they still like it.
Do you have a list in your head of dream places you would love to go with the show?
I definitely want to go to Hawaii. We have a channel that is going to air the show in Hawaii, my wife is from Hawaii, and it’d be great [to go there]. Also I’d love to go to New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, and other cities. Also on the West Coast, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle. Alaska would be great. I would just say to do every state!
As we said earlier, the show premieres on Monday in syndication. So check that out, and sign up now to get further TV updates via our CarterMatt Newsletter.
Photo: Fix It & Finish It