TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The senior executive producer for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Conrad Ricketts was in Tyler Thursday morning to take part in the Extreme Volunteer Pep Rally.
Ricketts has been in the TV business for decades, but, for the past seven years, he has been in the business of changing lives with one of the biggest shows on television.
A long way from L.A., Ricketts was right at home in his native state, drawing a crowd of enthusiastic support.
"This is the best job in the world," he said.
It is a job he has not always had.
"I was one of those guys who had humiliated people, making them eat bugs and kick them off islands and so it's a complete change for me," he said. "I could never go back to that type of television again."
And, he will probably never have to. The show Ricketts took the role of Executive Producer for is now seen by close to a billion people in nearly 70 countries and even more languages. It is a long way from the show's first family whom Ricketts found while driving around L. A.
"I came around the corner and there was a broken down house, dead yard, and broken windows, and a wooden shake roof peeling backward," he said. "And, standing in front of it was the cutest little blond you've seen in your life and a little 8-year-old girl with a paintbrush and I stopped and said this is exactly what I'm looking for. I asked her why is her house the nastiest on the block and she said, 'Mr. Ricketts, that little girl I sent inside, for four years now we've been fighting leukemia, and she's in remission, but every dime we've had has gone to save her life. And, I knew at that moment it was the heart and soul of this show."
Though he has built 177 homes, Rickets says each build is just as special as the first, touching more than just the families' lives in the process.
"I think the house is just a metaphor to a greater statement of who we are as a nation and what we believe in. Everybody comes to it thinking they're going to change someone's life and they change their own life in the process. Once they start working, once they start making a difference, they realize something - they realize, 'I can make a difference every single day. I don't have to wait for Hollywood to come to town. I believe by coming together and helping the one, we help us all and we can make a difference.'"
Rickets says family ties aren't broken when the show ends. ABC employs after-care producers to keep in touch with each family to make sure every family remains in their home for good.
Monday, September 1 2014 2:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 06:00:48 GMT
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