Saturday, October 2, 2004

Reality TV on Cleves Warsaw

By John Eckberg
Enquirer staff writer

Reality TV heads in a new direction this morning, with a home-renovation show set in the Western Hills - and a Southeast Indiana casino.

The Mansion pits eight amateur remodelers against one another for a chance to own a Green Township estate.

The show, from producer Mark L. Walberg, host of Temptation Island, debuts at 10 a.m. on TBS, and the first episode will feature a trip to Rising Sun and the Grand Victoria Casino & Resort by Hyatt.

But the house, said executive producer Dean Minerd, is the star of the show, which is expected to have broad appeal among America's renovators.

"There is a nesting thing going on," Minerd said, "a return to family and home."

The house, at 5336 Cleves Warsaw Pike, near Anderson Ferry Road, was built by Covington beer baron William C. Schott in 1924. Sold in July for $640,000, it has 13 rooms, 41/2 baths, a pool and pond on more than four acres.

After seven weeks of episodes, one of the winning remodelers gets the most votes from viewers, the key and ownership of the newly renovated house. That show will air in November, Minerd said.

This week, two contestants - selected as the best renovators of the episode - will win $5,000 in prize money that they can turn into $20,000 on two spins of the roulette wheel at the casino.

That free publicity should bring gamblers to the resort from throughout the Midwest and Northeast, said Steven Jimenez, director of marketing for the resort.

"It cost us nothing. We just allowed them to film the show at the facility," he said. "It's definitely going to bring us exposure. Nobody else has ever done this in our market area."

A casting call at Bridgetown Hardware & Paint in June brought 200 applicants to the store parking lot, said Denise Lindle, who has owned the store on Bridgetown Road with her husband, Doug, for the seven years.

Some contestants returned to buy paint, nails, caulking and other building materials.

"As far as a lot of revenue, no, that didn't happen," Lindle said. "But it was fun, and we got some advertising with the casting call."

Producers tapped two local residents - Jeff Klug, 34, of Cincinnati, and Kim Wagner, 39, of Rising Sun - to compete.

Enquirer home-improvement columnist Tim Carter is a judge.

Minerd estimated that more than $200,000 was spent on renovating the estate, and most, if not all, went to local building supply companies.

"We did pour lots of money into the Cincinnati economy what with catered meals, the renovation costs from nails to appliances," Minerd said. "And the cast was everywhere."



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