Big family goes big-time
ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is building a new house for a Center Point family made famous two years ago by sextuplets
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
News staff writer
A Center Point family who made news 2Ĺ years ago with the birth of their sextuplets are about to become TV stars.
Producers for ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" told Chris and Diamond Harris on Monday they'd have a new home in one week. "Extreme Makeover" builds or renovates homes for deserving families.
ABC's cameras were rolling about 8 a.m. when Ty Pennington, the show's frenetic host, stood in front of the Harris home and bellowed into a bullhorn.
"Harris family, come on out!"
They didn't. So he bellowed again.
After several minutes, Diamond Harris stepped outside into the cold rain, saw the cast and crew of the show, then jumped up and down and yelled. The Harrises had applied for the show, hoping for a larger house for their family, which includes Chris and Diamond, 9-year-old DeWayne and toddlers Kiera, Kalynne, Kaleb, Kobe, Kieran and Kyle.
The show's cast and crew, along with contractors and suppliers such as Signature Homes and Weyerhaeuser, plan to demolish the Harris home midweek and build a 5,000-square-foot, two-story house atop the existing home's foundation. The new home is scheduled for completion next Monday, the day the Harrises return from a weeklong, show-sponsored trip to Walt Disney World.
Early Monday, Chris Harris and the children streamed from the house to join Diamond Harris for the post-bullhorn celebration.
"Oh, my gosh, look at all the kids," Pennington said.
The family blamed their delayed reaction on a music session.
"They were in the kitchen singing `The Wheels on the Bus,' so they couldn't hear," said "Extreme Makeover" landscape designer Eduardo Xol.
A few neighbors braved the nasty weather when they heard Pennington's bullhorn. Some made it outside before the Harrises did.
"I came out to see what all the commotion was about," said Avis Peterson, clutching a coffee cup and an umbrella. The Harrises' street is closed during the filming, and ABC has given neighbors placards for entrance and exit into the area.
The Harrises periodically appeared in the yard before they headed to the airport in a black stretch limo. The family was instructed not to talk to the media Monday, but Chris Harris reacted to the question, "Where are you going?" by grinning and shrugging his shoulders.
The size of the Harris family determined the size of the house, which is one of the largest in the show's two-season history, said co-executive producer Denise Cramsey.
"It's an extreme family," she said.
Hurricane Ivan, which hurled a tree through the roof over the dining room, made the family's situation worse, Cramsey said. The Harrises patched the roof, but the dining room remained unusable.
"A house that was already too small got even smaller," Cramsey said.
Building the Harris home will be a 24-hour-a-day project, and the week's dreary weather forecast doesn't help, she said. "That'll be interesting for us, building in the cold and the rain."
But it's worth it, she said, every time they see the faces of a family whose life is made a little bit easier.
"I cry every time," Cramsey said.