“When Melissa McCarthy suggested unlacquered brass finishes, we knew we were dealing with someone who’s done this before. Brad [Pitt] is also obsessed with architecture and real estate. He not only walks the walk, he talks the talk.”
What was the most challenging project of the season?
“Though there are many similarities to our other shows, like Property Bros: Forever Home, I think the timeline was the most challenging part. With Brad Pitt’s episode, we had to pull everything off in under three weeks—essentially creating a completely self-contained detached-dwelling unit with all of the amenities in that time frame—in Los Angeles, no less. We may be certifiable.”
Having Brad Pitt on the debut season of your new TV show is a pretty big get. So big, in fact, it could even be mistaken for a prank, as told on the premiere episode of Jonathan and Drew Scott’s new show, “Celebrity IOU” (HGTV, Monday at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT).
“Jonathan just got a call one day, and the person was like, ‘Hey, this is Brad,'” Drew recalls to USA TODAY. “Jonathan’s like, ‘Brad from college or…?’ And he said, ‘No, Brad Pitt.”
It turns out the man who swept this past awards season and charmed us all with his acceptance speeches is a fan of the Scott brothers and their work, which includes renovation shows like “Property Brothers” and “Property Brothers: Forever Home.” In the newest television project, stars – including Melissa McCarthy, Viola Davis, Rebel Wilson, Michael Buble and Jeremy Renner – are able to pay back those who have greatly affected their lives.
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Melissa McCarthy appears in an episode of the debut season of “Celebrity IOU” with Drew and Jonathan Scott.
And the stars didn’t put on a show when it came to getting down and dirty. Drew says the famous faces wanted to be “hands-on.”
“They all wanted to use the power tools, they all wanted to smash through walls,” he says. “Nobody was just saying, ‘Oh, go renovate it for this person.'”
With his safety glasses and newsboy cap on, Pitt helps demo a ceiling and break through a wall to help give his longtime makeup artist Jean Ann Black a multi-use guest house/workspace. Pitt says the two are “like brother and sister,” and there are no ifs, ands or butts about it – they are close. He reveals on “Celebrity IOU” that while filming “Legends of the Fall” (1994), she had to touch up his tuchus over “bad tan lines.”
Repaying the favor in his own way, the movie star “knew what material would work best” for Black, Johnathan says, and provided helpful solutions to transform the space into what she needed. Pitt was also a delight on set.
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First the Scott brothers demo, and then they rebuild.
“Brad was such a gentleman, and he was so easy to work with and to talk to,” Jonathan says. “It was remarkable, too, because – I’ve never had this before with any celebrity I’ve ever met, but when he came in, the very first time, he took the time to meet everybody and he remembered every single crew member’s name, both the production crew and construction crew.
“And then, even in subsequent days when he would come back and film, or for the reveal, he remembered everybody’s name and took that time to show his appreciation,” Jonathan continues. “He was through and through a true gentleman.”
Plan B Entertainment, the Oscar-winning production label co-founded by Brad Pitt, has signed a first-look feature deal with Warner Bros. Pictures.
The producer of Academy Award best picture winners “The Departed,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “Moonlight” will give Warner Bros. exclusive options on all film projects, returning to the studio home where it launched in 2002.
Warner Bros. Pictures will also handle global distribution of Plan B titles under the terms of the agreement. The move to WB comes after a three-year first look with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures.
The deal was announced by Plan B partner Pitt and co-presidents Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, with Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich and WB production and development president Courtenay Valenti.
“Brad, Jeremy and Dede are extraordinary filmmakers,” Emmerich and Valenti said in a statement. “Their track record of excellence speaks for itself. We are so excited to collaborate with them on the dynamic and singular movies for which they are known.
The agreement represents a doubling-down on Plan B’s vision of substantive, theatrical moviegoing experiences, made with top filmmakers and, often, premium intellectual property.
Among the label’s notable library titles are “The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford,” “The Tree of Life,” “World War Z,” The Normal Heart,” “The Big Short,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “and “Vice.”
The company is currently working on Jon Stewart’s political drama “Irresistible,” the Miranda July project “Kajillionaire” at Focus Features, and Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari,” winner of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival U.S. dramatic grand jury prize, to be released by A24.
How exactly does Brad Pitt know the Property Brothers? It’s a question anyone might have before the premiere of Celebrity IOU, and one that comes up pretty quickly, just after Brad— yes, it’s somehow really Brad!—shakes hands with Drew and Jonathan Scott. “I will be honest: when you called us, I thought it was a prank call,” Drew says early on in the episode.
The strange, dazzled sensation of seeing Brad Pitt on HGTV never truly goes away throughout the first episode of Celebrity IOU, a new series that premieres April 13 in which the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Viola Davis, and Rebel Wilson will also team up with the Scott brothers to pull off renovations for their loved ones. Pitt’s work is on behalf of his long-term makeup artist Jean Ann Black, described by GQ in 2017 as “Brad Pitt’s secret weapon,” and owner of a home in Santa Monica with a freestanding garage that, as in any classic Property Brothers episode, has potential for so much more. Pitt wants to give her a proper makeup table for her clients, and space for guests; the brothers also squeeze in a spa-worthy shower and a ludicrously expensive folding glass door. Pitt and the brothers throw some sledgehammers to block out the back wall, pick out some tiles. It’s a Property Brothers episode; what more do you want?
Well, what if a standard-issue HGTV show featured a drop-by from one of the most magnetic movie stars who ever lived? Wearing his signature newsboy hat, artfully tousled hair, and a genuine smile every time he talks about his long-standing friendship with Black, Pitt is exactly as relaxed and casual as he pretended to be during every awards acceptance speech earlier this year. “I love the sound of a construction site,” he says, not long after dropping that he knows the zoning laws for how close you can build to the property line. “I’m extremely tactile,” he says, picking out engineered hardwood samples like they’re crown jewels. Presumably, someone responsible for the awards campaign for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood was aware that this episode would air after the Oscars, and lamented the missed opportunity. Not that he really needed the help, but it’s impossible to watch this and not want to hand Pitt anything in the world.
His presence makes the usual goofy antics of the Scott brothers seem even more absurd than usual. Pitt’s not in the entire episode, of course, though he does gamely Skype in to weigh in on a bonus outdoor space (he’s all for it, of course). But he returns at the end for the first big reveal, grinning in awe at an elaborately engineered Murphy bed and tearing up at the sight of a photo of Black’s parents tucked into the storage closet. When Black herself arrives to take it all in, he turns to grin at the camera, a moment so unscripted and genuine he’s never fully in focus.
Black’s arrival at the end of the episode, which comes after she’s been talked up to high heaven by her friend Brad, is remarkably able to live up to the hype. A taciturn Texan trying hard not to cry on television, she responds to the renovation in the way that most people do on these shows: with awe, gratitude, a small heartfelt speech. But she also looks like she might jab Pitt in the ribs when taping is over for forcing her in front of the camera. Once the brothers leave, she relaxes a bit for what might be the best part of the episode: Pitt jokes about trying to get her on a true-crime series, and coaches her through lines like “If I can’t have you, nobody can” and “Look what you made me do!” Pitt’s a great coach; he also looks at her with the kind of admiration and affection that can make an entire generation swoon.
The pictures have gotten particularly small lately, and it’s unclear when we’ll be able to get another dose of giant movie-star charisma in its intended, big-screen format. So while Brad Pitt showing up on a HGTV show is weird, it’s also exactly what we deserve right now. Maybe not as much as Jean Ann Black deserves her hidden makeup mirror that rises up out of her new quartz countertop—but then again, Brad doesn’t smile at us that way, either.
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