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HGTV reveals the identities of 'HGTV Design Star' fourth-season cast


By Christopher Rocchio, 06/16/2009 

HGTV has revealed the identities of 10 of the 11 finalists who will competing on HGTV Design Star's fourth season.

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In addition, the network has also revealed the identities of the three remaining semifinalists -- one of whom the 10 initial finaists will chose to join the show's fourth-season cast during a "house vote" that will air in the premiere episode on Sunday, July 19 at 10PM ET/PT.

The three semifinalists -- who were selected by the network and show producers -- are Gary Andrews, a 41-year-old from Los Angeles, CA; Torie Halbert, a 36-year-old from Humble, TX; and Alissa Sutton, a 30-year-old from Los Angeles.

"The show's selection committee had a tough time deciding which of the three semifinalists should get the coveted 11th spot in the competition," said HGTV programming executive James Bolosh.

"In fact, we spent quite a bit of time evaluating the merits of each one before deciding that it actually would be an exciting twist to let the other 10 finalists make the final decision. We believe Gary, Torie and Alissa are all strong contenders for the competition."

Similar to the show's first three editions, HGTV Design Star's fourth season will feature contestants competing in a series of design challenges and attempting to win their own HGTV series.

"The finalists featured in this season's HGTV Design Star are extraordinarily talented and ready to do whatever it takes to win," said Bolosh. "With so many strong personalities involved, we have no doubt that viewers will be captivated and entertained by the competition."

While former Trading Spaces designer Vern Yip will return as a judge, designer Cynthia Rowley and In Style executive editor Martha McCully will not. 

Rowley and McCully -- who had served on HGTV Design Star's judging panel with Yip since the show's initial 2006 season -- will be replaced by interior designers Genevieve Gorder and Candice Olson.

Clive Pearse will reprise his HGTV Design Star hosting duties for the fourth season.

HGTV Design Star's fourth-season finalists -- and their HGTV-supplied bios -- are: 

Antonio Ballatore, a 40-year-old from Los Angeles.

New York City native Antonio Ballatore believed he would be a rock star by age 40. While pursuing his dreams of music stardom, he spent time between gigs learning how to build houses. This experience led Antonio to design restaurants and clubs in Manhattan and, later, design sets for world-famous photographers, including Annie Leibovitz and David LaChapelle. Antonio also loves decorating and coordinating interiors using his unique style that he calls "modern cave-dwelling meets medieval contemporary."

NataLee Callahan, a 30-year-old from Salt Lake City, UT

NataLee, who grew up in rural Idaho, earned a degree in broadcast journalism from Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City. Although NataLee enjoyed studying journalism, her real passion is interior design. She got her start in floral and wedding design and later moved on to interiors and home staging after becoming a licensed Realtor. Today, NataLee is a full-time interior decorator and describes her style as transitional, comfortable and fun. She also designs homes for a local charity, where she transforms houses into comfortable residences for families in need.

Jason Champion, a 33-year-old from Sarasota, FL

In addition to a 15-year career as a designer, Jason Champion, an entrepreneur, also is a stylist and product designer. He describes his personal style as vibrant, eclectic and comfortable, but says he is a design visionary for his clients and can create beautiful rooms in any style. After graduating from the Southern Institute Division of Virginia College with a degree in applied arts, Jason relocated to Sarasota, FL, with his partner and two dogs. Jason also works as a radio host of a weekly design show and writes a regular column for a gardening magazine.

Nathan Galui, a 25-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Nathan, a native of Palm Beach, FL, earned a bachelor's degree in interior design from Drexel University in Philadelphia and studied furniture design at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Nathan's experience ranges from residential and hospitality design to furniture and products. Nathan works as a freelance designer and describes his style as urban, modern, eclectic and rustic. He says "If you love a $2,000 vase atop that $20 coffee table, do not keep them apart."

Jen Guerin, a 33-year-old from San Diego, CA

Growing up just a few miles from Canada, in Ishpeming, Michigan, Jen Guerin was eager to begin her studies at San Diego State University. After earning her degree in fine art, Jen also became one of only 151 color consultants in the U.S. certified by the International Association of Color Consultation. This certification allows Jen to select color palettes for public buildings, such as hospitals and schools. In addition, Jen also is a business owner and an artist, specializing in wax pigments, multimedia art, decorative plasters and eco-friendly design. She describes her style as Bohemian and Baroque, with touches of 1960s-inspired modern. Very eco-conscious, Jen says that it's important to always "save it, re-use it or paint it."

Jany Lee, a 35-year-old from Dallas, TX

Before her husband's job was transferred to Dallas, Jany owned her own design business in Toronto. Her self-described style is classic, contemporary and glamorous, which helped her find a niche flipping houses and designing rooms for clients. Since moving to Texas, Jany has undertaken the task of redesigning her new home and has tackled every job from installing hardwood floors and removing walls to selecting colors and accessorizing. Jany holds a B.A. in economics from Queen's University in Ontario, Canada.

Tashica Morgan, a 29-year-old from Bowie, MD

Tashica, known to family and friends as "Talko" because of her chatty personality, says she always wanted to be a designer. Tashica grew up in foster care and says she enjoyed decorating the drab places she called home. The experience shaped her passion for design and later helped define a signature style that she describes as "vintage posh and urban glam." Although Tashica earned a bachelor's degree in pre-law from the University of Maryland, her love for design inspired her to enter the master's program for interior design at Marymount University in Arlington, VA.

Lonni Paul from Los Angeles, CA

Lonni, a mother of three and a former fashion model, owns a successful design business in her hometown of Los Angeles. She describes her design style as contemporary and transitional, but also loves anything with an Asian influence. Lonni designs both residential and commercial properties and says that, despite her self-described "spontaneous and goofy" personality, simplicity is the key to achieving elegant design. She also says that her designs demonstrate an effortlessly simple, upscale and modern look.

Amy Sklar, a 40-year-old from Los Angeles, CA

While growing up, Amy moved frequently with her family, living in as many as 15 different homes across the United States. The wide range of residences--from a mid-century modern home in Maryland to a century-old clapboard house in Long Island--shaped her eclectic design style. Amy's experiences defined her ability to merge modern and classic aesthetics and also inspired her understanding of architecture and interior styles. Amy is a graduate of UCLA's Professional Level Program in Interior Design and Architecture and a graduate of Lewis and Clark College, where she received a B.F.A. in furniture design. The mother of two young children, Amy knows that design must be beautiful but also functional and comfortable.

Dan Vickery, a 27-year-old from Portland, OR

Dan, who holds a degree in architecture from the University of Oregon in Portland, was inspired by design at an early age. Watching his mother and grandmother use fabric for quilting captivated Dan's imagination and eventually led him to a career in architecture and design. After graduation, Dan designed and built homes for a local construction company. He describes his design style as "hip and historic" and says that great design should be grounded in sound architectural aesthetics and accented with modern decor.

(Photo credit HGTV/Mike Ruiz)



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