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TLC confirms it has canceled 'Trading Spaces' after eight seasons


By Steve Rogers, 02/06/2009 

TLC has confirmed that it has canceled Trading Spaces, its once high-flying flagship series, after eight seasons.

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"TLC has ended production of Trading Spaces with its eighth season," TLC president Eileen O'Neill said in statement released to Reality TV World on Friday.  "Trading Spaces helped put TLC 'on the map' as a breakout hit that brought new highs to cable viewership. The show and its talent became household names and we'll always celebrate that success."

All 26 of Trading Spaces' eighth-season episodes have already aired, according to the network.

Last year, TLC revamped the long-running home makeover series -- which had traditionally featured pairs of neighbors swapping homes and performing single-room makeovers on a $1,000 budget -- by tweaking the show's format and bringing back former host Paige Davis, whom the network had fired as part of a 2005 decision to move the show to a new "host-less" format.

"Trading Spaces was at its very best when Paige Davis was at the helm and the fans still miss her... we're thrilled to welcome her home," now-former TLC president Angela Shapiro-Mathes said in a November 2007 statement that announced the revamp.

During its ratings heyday, Trading Spaces was the No. 1 cable show on Saturday nights.  In October 2003, a Sunday night broadcast of a Trading Spaces $100 Grand special that featured two pairs of homeowners performing $50,000 makeovers drew 9.1 million total viewers -- which was more viewers than either ABC or NBC drew in the same time period.

In addition to bringing back Davis and many of the show's former designers, the revamp also included an attempt to bring "an emotional hook to every angle" by having each episode feature two couples that had a less perfect relationship, such as divorced couples, dueling mothers-in-laws, workplace rivals and feuding neighbors.

The network also replaced Banyan Productions -- the production company that had produced Trading Spaces since the show's second season -- with A. Smith & Co., a production company that had typically produced somewhat edgier reality programs like Fox's Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Paradise Hotel, Forever Eden, The Swan, and Skating with Celebrities programs.

However the revamp failed to revive the show's once-impressive ratings and Shapiro-Mathes -- who had made reviving Trading Spaces one of her top priorities since she had joined the network seven months before the revival announcement -- ended up leaving TLC only eight months later in July 2008 when the network's management reportedly became unhappy with her "creative direction," which had included an April announcement to re-brand TLC around themed nights of programming.  

In addition, Shapiro-Mathes -- a former Fox Television Studios executive from Los Angeles -- had also shifted the Discovery Communications-owned network's programming operations from Discovery's headquarters in Silver Springs, MD to Los Angeles.

Shapiro-Mathes was replaced by O'Neill, a longtime Discovery employee who had previously run the company's Planet Green, Discovery Health and Fit TV networks.  While running Discovery Health she developed Jon & Kate Plus 8 -- which emerged as TLC's top-rated series when Shapiro-Mathes was running the network.  (After airing its first two seasons on Discovery Health, Jon & Kate Plus 8 moved over to TLC early last year.)

Hints that TLC had decided to end Trading Spaces first emerged Thursday afternoon when A. Smith & Co announced that Davis will serve as the host of Life For Dummies, a new syndicated program that will be based on the For Dummies book line published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., and used the past tense to describe their Trading Spaces work.

Davis subsequently revealed the show's cancellation during a Friday interview with NBC's WVIT-TV affiliate in Hartford, CT.

"It is not actually being renewed -- you're the first person I've told that to actually," Davis told the station.

"I'll remember the impact we had on people's lives, on homes and in the industry," she added. "It catapulted an entire genre of TV."

According to A. Smith & Co., Life For Dummies will use a combination of interviews, studio demonstrations, field segments and personal testimonials to present its information in a "simple, often humorous style."

(Photo credit TLC)


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