Written by GWB
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Topics: New York, Gaza

Thursday, 20 May 2004

New York, NY--The American Broadcasting Company(ABC) today announced that it reached an agreement with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to shoot next season of its hit series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Gaza City.

Six episodes of the show in which, "walls are moved, floors are replaced and facades are radically reconceived," will be shot in randomly chosen Palestinian homes over the next two months. Israeli forces will be responsible for heavy construction duties, such as demolition, and the Extreme Makeover team, led by carpenter and host Ty Pennington, will help renovate the premises after the Israelis withdraw.

"We believe that this agreement will capitalize on a great synergy between the IDF and our ABC family," Anne Sweeney, ABC's President, told reporters at a New York press conference. "Extreme Makeover: the Occupied Territories will provide the struggling Palestinian people with an exciting new vision for their home-living experience."

Israeli Army spokesman Capt. Jacob Gissin says that the arrangement is a "natural fit" for the Israelis. "Israel has been radically revamping Palestinian housing on the Gaza Strip for decades," Gissin says. The show's format of unexpectedly turning up at a family's doorstep and trying to complete the work as quickly as possible also fits well with IDF policy, he says. "We like to move rapidly, and the element of surprise is very, very important to us."

Sweeney says that she believes the new series will dramatically boost viewership for the embattled broadcast giant, which now lags behind NBC, CBS, and FOX in the Nielsen ratings. "This new season will be more contemporary, edgy, and exciting than any other home improvement program on television," she says. "In addition to dealing with traditional problems, such as sagging foundations or outdated plumbing, the team must now tackle unexploded ordinance and other thrilling challenges."

Sweeney also hopes that the show will help to improve the Arab world's view of America. "A lot of the images on the news these days show the negative side of American/Arab relations," she says. "This will show the two sides working together to redecorate kitchens and pick out furniture."

Gissin says that he too has high hopes for the show. "Due to constant harassment from terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, we've often had to withdraw before we could fulfil our design vision," he says. "We wish Mr. Pennington and his team all the luck in the world."

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