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The network has opted not to move forward with the series in its weekly format, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. ABC, however, will air four special episodes after its current ninth season ends its run on Jan. 13 with its 200th episode.
The series, which features host Ty Pennington and a team including designer Michael Moloney visiting and rebuilding the homes of families in need, premiered in 2003 as a 13-part special to 12 million viewers on a Wednesday night, moving to its initial home on Sundays where it became a regular staple for its first eight seasons.
The Extreme Makeover spinoff continued to grow, cracking the top 20 in viewership in its second season, averaging 15.8 million viewers per episode as it made its way to visit all 50 states helping veterans, victims of natural disasters, the homeless and foster care and adoption organizations. To date, the team has designed and rebuilt more than 200 homes, in addition to firehouses, schools, daycares and more.
ABC moved the series to Fridays this year where it has struggled to attract the same audience — despite a slate of high-profile guests including first lady Michelle Obama and the Kardashians — against competition including Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares and scripted offerings including A Gifted Man. Its most recent episode, airing against CBS’ holiday broadcast of Frosty the Snowman (7.3 million), drew 5.1 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic.
The decision to air four specials follows a similar model Fox incorporated for America’s Most Wanted. The long-running law-enforcement series, hosted by John Walsh, was canceled as a weekly series in May with Fox opting to air four quarterly specials. (Lifetime has since picked up the series for a 25th season.)
“It is with a somber heart I close this chapter, but with such excitement I begin the next one,” Moloney said in a statement to THR. “I have EM:HE to thank for the platform I have to continue doing good work and great design in 2012 and on.”
Pennington, meanwhile, has already lined up a new gig, ABC’s upcoming daytime health and lifestyle series The Revolution, set to premiere in January. He joins Tim Gunn and Harley Pasternak.
Pennington later posted a statement on his Web site thanking the network, fans and those associated with the show for their support for what he called “the greatest job of my life.” “I believe the spirit of what we have done across the country for over 200 families will continue to inspire,” he wrote. It has been an honor to work side by side with the EMHE families, builders, and thousands of volunteers who have proven that good hearts can and do change the world.”
The series has earned two Emmys for outstanding reality program in its nine-year run, with another year of eligibility to go.
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