Friday, January 20, 2023

HGTV’s Christina Hall & Retta announce they are working on new shows

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Two popular HGTV personalities announced big news this week, revealing that they are both working on shows for other networks. Christina Hall, who just premiered her latest HGTV show Christina in the Country, and Retta, who wrapped up the network’s third season of Ugliest House in America in early January, are both busy producing new shows. In Hall’s case, she remains behind the camera for the first time while Retta stars in the mystery series, for which she is directing a pilot. Here’s what you need to know:

Long before Retta began hosting HGTV’s hit show Ugliest House in America, she had risen to fame as a comedian and actress with roles on shows like Good Girls and Parks and Rec. In January 2022, just as “Ugliest House” was debuting, she signed a talent-holding deal with NBCU, according to Variety. The exclusive agreement ensured the network would find her starring roles in shows across its broadcast, cable and streaming platforms.

Now one of these projects has been given the green light. NBC has ordered a pilot for Murder by the Book, a drama series starring Retta and executive producing. The Hollywood Reporter says the series has been in the works for months, with Retta as one of four executive producers.

Retta will also appear on the show, according to the NBCU announcement, as “an Instagram-famous big-city book reviewer” who takes inspiration from the mystery books she reviews to become an amateur detective who tells “shocking truths” in a small coastal town reveals.

This is a huge step forward and paves the way for the team to actually shoot a pilot episode. A pilot, according to Backstage, is a one-off episode filmed to see if the idea really works and could be successful, from the cast to the plot to the setting.

On Jan. 17, 2023, Retta shared several Hollywood trade stories about the news, writing on Instagram, “The pilot got the green light and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Two days later, Retta said in a video on her Instagram Stories: “I’ve been looking at the very kind messages everyone has left regarding our pilot pickup and it brings me to tears. I am very, very grateful and thankful for the kind words.”

The pilot for Murder by the Book needs to be picked up by a network, and while NBCU owns multiple channels, there’s no guarantee their executives will see Retta’s show as a perfect fit.

“We’re going to shoot the pilot and then he has to be picked up, so it’s not a done deal,” she laughed. “Although I feel good about it, it’s not a done deal. So keep the faith – pray high as they say! Hopefully we’ll have a show shoot by the end of the year. We will see. Just grateful to be in this position.”

Meanwhile, Hall is staying behind the camera for her just-announced project. In 2022, the former “Flip or Flop” host started her own production company with her husband, former police officer and real estate agent Josh Hall. Through the company called Unbroken Productions, they now executive produce their HGTV shows Christina on the Coast and Christina in the Country, but they are also beginning to develop and produce new shows featuring other talent.

According to Deadline, the first series they’re working on without Christina is called “Coastal Crazy Rich Agents,” which follows successful real estate agent Keven Stirdivant, a former pro skateboarder, and his family as they fly high at the end of KASE real estate company in Orange County, California . The brokerage firm has 11 “successful — and equally unscrupulous — agents,” including Keven’s son, Eli. It’s not yet clear when or where Coastal Crazy Rich Agents will air.

According to Deadline, Unbroken Productions is partnering with Glass Entertainment Group, owned by former Inside Edition host Nancy Glass, and Balthazar Entertainment, run by Christina’s longtime friend and former HGTV exec Brian Balthazar.

In the registration documents obtained by Heavy, the company was originally incorporated in June 2021, a month before Christina and Josh started dating, and was named Infinite Productions. The name was changed to Unbroken — which is also Josh’s Instagram name — in February 2022, around the same time he was named CEO. The two also married in a courthouse in early 2022, per People.

Christina wants to focus on creating more lifestyle documentaries and a lifestyle TV competition showcasing home improvement artists across the country, per Deadline, and is also developing a show starring a California tattoo artist who gets his celebrity clients to talk about her Open privacy while they get it inked. The outlet also said Christina is eager to work with couples who work in the “design space.”

Christina told Deadline, “Producing my own shows in front of and behind the camera is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years. So starting a production company with Josh was exciting and a natural transition.”

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