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Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is a transcript of an interview with executive producer JD Roth and trainer Chris Powell on May 12, 2011 about the show Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.

Chris Powell

In a unique, non-competitive show about weight loss - unlike anything seen before on television - Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition will document the amazing makeover of eight courageous, ???super obese??? people who, in an unprecedented 365 days, set out to safely lose half of their body weight, ultimately revealing an amazing metamorphosis. Trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell will guide each of the eight participants through their transformation process by moving into their homes with their families or loved ones. By assuring that they have the proper nourishment and exercise movement, Chris will provide a fresh perspective to individuals whose lives have become unmanageable because of their weight.

Question:
How will this show be different from the other weight loss shows already on television?

JD Roth:
First of all it's not a competition. Secondly, it takes place over an entire year, 365 days. Finally, the people featured are living in their own homes during the process, dealing with the same triggers that they always have.

Question:
Most other weight loss shows on television are competitive, but this one is not. What affect do you think this had on the participants?

Chris Powell:
It does take the pressure off. The focus can be on the transformation and not on winning the competition.

Question:
How did the idea for this show originally come about?

JD Roth:
Because we were turning away people who wanted to be on our other weight loss shows, I saw a need for this. I has seen Chris' 650 pound virgin and contacted him. He was interested and we took it to ABC. I really give ABC credit, because this show had the longest filming time in history before they even got an episode and they went for it.

Question:
How did you select the people who are featured on the series?

JD Roth:
Through casting calls, people who were too large to be on other shows like The Biggest Loser, and some people contacted Chris. The women in the first episode, Ruth, works at a school. One day a little girl told her she was the biggest women she had ever seen, just being a little girl and telling what she saw. Ruth went into the other room and cried and realized she needed to do something. Many people in their 20s contacted us, people who even at that young an age are just a year or two from death because of their weight.

Question:
Each episode is dedicated to only one participant. Did this allow you to tell a more in-depth story for each of them?

Chris Powell:
We followed each person's story for 365 days and then each one is edited into a 42 minute episode devoted to that person.

Question:
What was the biggest challenge in making this show?

JD Roth:
Not being able to look them in the eye. On other shows, like The Biggest Loser, I can look the people in the eye and talk with them. Because of the year time frame we often talk over the phone and when they have those down times I cannot just look at them when I talk with them. They are masters at making excuses, even lying, during those down moments and I cannot just look at them and see that.

Even though Chris spent time living with each of them, he is only there for some of the time and cannot always be sitting right there during those down moments either.

Chris Powell:
And the down times can be extreme. Imagine losing 150 pounds in 90 days - a really big accomplishment. But then imagine that you still have 500 pounds to go. That makes it difficult. What motivates you?

Question:
What was the single biggest challenge in working with the participants of this show?

JD Roth:
Someone pointed out that if they were taken away to a fancy ranch where they were constantly supervised, losing weight would be easy. But these people are still living their own lives in their own homes, with their families. Trying to work with them in that setting was a challenge, but in the long run is what will make them more successful.

Question:
In addition to the nutritional information and exercise, was therapy or counseling involved for the participants?

Chris Powell:
Absolutely. These people

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