KEMAH, Texas — The lead builder of a home for the ABC television network show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" claims the reality program didn’t give an accurate account of prior living conditions of a Kemah family featured on the show.
Larry and Melissa Beach and their 13 children had lived in mobile homes on their Kemah lot after Hurricane Ike damaged the house in September 2008.
The ABC show in January 2010 selected the Beaches for a new home built at the site of their hurricane-damaged house.
ABC selected Blu Shields Construction, a Texas City-based homebuilder, to coordinate construction.
Company President Blu Shields claims statements made on the show insinuated the Beach house had been flooded by storm surges, and the huge family had lived in a 30-foot-long trailer for 18 months were not true.
Melissa Beach said her family’s contract with ABC stated the network could reconfigure interviews for dramatic effect to enhance the show.
"There are some things on the show that were taken out of the context I said them in," she said. "We never said we were flooded from storm surge. We had windblown rain and runoff from neighbors."
Beach said the family didn’t live in the 30-foot trailer for the entire 18 months before filming. The family lived in two 60-foot-long Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers for a majority of the time before they moved into the smaller trailer, Beach said.
The ABC contract prevents the Beaches from saying anything that could be construed as negative against the network, the show, the builder or any entity involved in the project, Beach said.
Beach said she thinks every entity involved in the project had to sign similar contracts.
"The Beach family went through the same rigorous background check we employ for all families who receive a home makeover from our show," Chantelle Siegel, a spokeswoman for the ABC show, said in a statement. "We stand behind the validity of the background check, the Beach family and our choice to build a home for them. ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ couldn’t be more proud to reward a family such as the Beaches."
Shields claims the city helped the Beach family get on the show and ignored other Kemah residents whose houses were flooded from Hurricane Ike’s storm surge.
Paul Williams, former president of Water Control and Improvement District 12 and husband of city Councilwoman Kelly Williams, said he and his wife were among hundreds of locals who nominated the Beaches for the show.
"The city had no part in getting them on the show," Williams said.
Despite having suspicions about the Beaches’ living conditions after Ike, Shields said he continued his role in the project "for the good of the cause."
Before construction, Shields’ company asked Galveston County residents at rallies and on the company website to donate time, money and materials to help with the project.
Shields put about $90,000 of his own money into the Beaches’ new home, he said.
The "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" logo appears on the company’s business cards and a company website, which also states "We are one of the many proud builders for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition."
Kemah City Administrator Bill Kerber, who lives on the same street as the Beaches, said the family was a candidate for the show before Hurricane Ike.
"We made sure we had a building inspection available," Kerber said. "We waived building fees on the permit. That was our interest in the show."
The city made sure there was police security during filming. Kemah police and officers from other agencies in Galveston and Harris counties donated their time for security, Kerber said.
"I do remember ABC putting the hurricane spin on it," Kerber said. "I questioned it from the beginning, but I figured it was Hollywood’s way of hyping the show."
This story was brought to you thanks to khou.com’s partnership with the Galveston County Daily News.