Prop­erty Broth­ers gain global at­ten­tion,

Cana­dian Prop­erty Broth­ers Drew and Jonathan Scott are in­ter­na­tional TV stars who love a good chal­lenge

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - KATHER­INE ROS­MAN

GALVE­STON, TEXAS — In­side a bun­ga­low un­der ren­o­va­tion, Jonathan Scott, one half of the squeaky-clean Prop­erty Broth­ers, was yank­ing a toi­let out from the floor.

“Let’s do it one more time,” said a pro­ducer, watch­ing from a nearby mon­i­tor.

Scott walked into the small bath­room again, act­ing sur­prised as he spied the toi­let. Then he pulled it from the floor.

The scene was be­ing shot for the fifth sea­son of “Brother vs. Brother,” the HGTV pro­gram in which the highly com­pet­i­tive Scott broth­ers use equal sums of their own money (in this case $600,000) to buy, ren­o­vate and then sell houses in the same town. All pro­ceeds go to char­i­ties like Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity. This Galve­ston sea­son will make its pre­mière on May 31.

Scott, who is a per­fect mix of rugged and well coifed, a man who gets his work boots dirty even as his hair stays un­tousled, went for a house that could be con­sid­ered a ma­jor fixer-up­per. His iden­ti­cal twin brother, Drew, who is as hand­some if not quite as hair-sprayed, and favours suits and ties over Tim­ber­lands, opted for a ram­shackle heap that was larger and had bet­ter ac­cess to some of the is­land’s canals.

“He’s des­per­ate to win,” said Jonathan, who has won on the last two sea­sons of the show. “I was also born first, so I also won that com­pe­ti­tion,” he said, a joke typ­i­cal of the broth­ers’ repar­tee both on- and off­screen.

Around the cor­ner, in a dif­fer­ent bay­side house sit­ting high up on stilts, Drew was deal­ing with dis­lodged ma­te­ri­als for his own ren­o­va­tion. The day be­fore, strong winds had ripped a thin metal chim­ney from the roof. It had landed to the side of the drive­way. Now it was time to recre­ate the scene. “This is a high-in­ten­sity mo­ment,” a pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant whis­pered.

The di­rec­tor called to the house, “I need some work­ers out front!” A crew of trades­men walked out onto a sec­ond-floor porch and pre­tended to work. “Bang!” the di­rec­tor said. Drew ran from the house. He looked at the chim­ney with feigned shock. He rubbed his eyes.

“Let’s do the run out again,” the di­rec­tor said.

Drew walked back in­side and ran out again. He pre­tended to no­tice the chim­ney again, and looked up to­ward the work­men. “Go in­side, guys! I don’t want you to work out­side; it’s too windy!”

The work­ers went back in­side, and then came back out, and went in, for a third take.

“At the end of the day, it has to be in­ter­est­ing tele­vi­sion,” Drew said later. “But when we find a load-bear­ing wall, we are re­ally find­ing a load-bear­ing wall.”

In seven years, Drew and Jonathan Scott, 39, have gone from as­pir­ing celebri­ties on a small Cana­dian cable net­work to HGTV head­lin­ers who star in, and in some cases pro­duce, some of the most pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion shows in Amer­ica.

They know that some of their fans are sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, but Jonathan is not a fan. “I be­lieve our show is about find­ing so­lu­tions for the lit­tle guy, and I think the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing stuff that is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to serv­ing the lit­tle guy,” he said.

In­ter­na­tional

Prop­erty Broth­ers pro­gram­ming is now in­ter­na­tional, on the air in more than 150 coun­tries. The broth­ers live in a con­stant cy­cle of prod­uct pro­mo­tion and never tire of pos­ing for self­ies with fans from San An­to­nio to Sin­ga­pore, where they were met by thou­sands when they vis­ited. This was ini­tially a sur­prise to them, since Asian hous­ing stock and ways of liv­ing dif­fer so greatly from those of North Amer­ica. But, Jonathan pointed out, “Ev­ery­one lives some­where.”

In their hall­mark show, “Prop­erty Broth­ers,” Drew, a real es­tate agent, helps a fam­ily buy a new home and Jonathan, a con­struc­tion con­trac­tor, helps them ren­o­vate. It is among HGTV’s high­est-rank­ing pro­grams. The last sea­son of “Brother vs. Brother,” which is pro­duced by Scott Broth­ers Entertainment, drew more than 14 mil­lion view­ers. These are just two of their HGTV pro­grams.

Their shows are part of a pop­u­lar HGTV lineup which in­cludes “Flip or Flop,” with Tarek El Moussa and Christina El Moussa, and “Fixer Up­per,” with Chip and Joanna Gaines, who ap­peared on the cover of Peo­ple mag­a­zine last Oc­to­ber, be­fore the Scotts’ first cover in April. “No, we’re not jeal­ous of them,” Drew said. “They are phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­ful, the au­di­ence loves them and our fans have been ask­ing for us to do some­thing to­gether.” The Scotts asked the Gaine­ses to ap­pear on an episode of “Brother vs. Brother” in Galve­ston, but they were busy.

In the past, other HGTV stars have popped up; Rob Van Win­kle (also known as Vanilla Ice, who stars in the HGTV show, “The Vanilla Ice Project”) ap­peared in an episode called “Nice, Nice Baby.”

The Scott broth­ers have nu­mer­ous brand ex­ten­sions, many of which fall un­der their Scott Liv­ing com­pany: wine fridges and elec­tric fire­places, sold at Lowes, and in­door-out­door

rugs and pa­tio fur­ni­ture, sold through QVC, to name a few. There is a new lux­ury-home build­ing project in Las Ve­gas. They re­leased two coun­try mu­sic songs, which they pro­moted on “Prop­erty Broth­ers at Home on the Ranch.” They have a book com­ing out in Septem­ber from Houghton Mif­flin Har­court called “It Takes Two: Our Story.”

Though both broth­ers are con­stantly pro­mot­ing them­selves, they agree that Drew is more high­strung, a man who took a con­fer­ence call while atop the Eif­fel Tower, and who won’t at­tempt a leisure ac­tiv­ity with­out tak­ing lessons (cur­rently: Ping-Pong, gui­tar and golf ).

“I’m very good at re­lax­ing,” said Jonathan, who comes off as a Type A-mi­nus at best.

“I am so anal about ev­ery­thing,” Drew said.

They are the first to ad­mit that their fam­ily and work lives over­lap more than most. Drew is en­gaged to marry Linda Phan, the cre­ative di­rec­tor of Scott Broth­ers Entertainment, and the com­ing sea­son of “Prop­erty Broth­ers at Home: Drew’s Honey­moon House” will fea­ture the cou­ple as they ren­o­vate their first home to­gether, in Los An­ge­les. Jac­inta Kuznetsov, Jonathan’s girl­friend, also works for the com­pany. A third brother, J.D. Scott, works as the host of HGTV’s on­line cov­er­age of life be­hind the scenes on “Brother vs. Brother.”

Par­ents

The Scotts’ mother and fa­ther are in­volved in the fam­ily busi­ness too.

Jim Scott, 83, im­mi­grated from Scot­land, even­tu­ally set­tling in western Canada, where he worked as a horse stunt­man, then as a di­rec­tor’s as­sis­tant on the set of Hol­ly­wood movies shot on location near Van­cou­ver. He has told his sons about an idea for a film in which a cow­boy is un­justly sent to prison and strug­gles to adapt to a changed world upon his re­lease. His sons gave him a dead­line, and he wrote the screen­play on a type­writer. They say they plan to pro­duce the film one day.

Joanne Scott, 73, spends a lot of time fol­low­ing her sons on so­cial me­dia plat­forms and look­ing for com­ments left by fol­low­ers that might be off-Scott-brand. “If there is any­thing I think needs their at­ten­tion,” she said, “I’m on the phone.”

The Scott broth­ers re­al­ize that their whole­some­ness is the key to their ap­peal. “It’s safe pro­gram­ming,” Drew said over a gluten-free lunch quickly eaten amid the film­ing of “Brother vs. Brother.” “The shows are not so foofy that guys don’t want to watch, kids want to watch be­cause we’re goofy and women ap­pre­ci­ate it be­cause you’re get­ting real de­sign knowl­edge.”

They say they are ba­si­cally just or­di­nary folks. “Peo­ple think be­cause you’re a celebrity, be­cause you’re on TV, be­cause you’re Peo­ple mag­a­zine’s Sex­i­est Men Alive, things like that, that we’re bathing in cham­pagne and tak­ing limos door to door. But we’re lit­er­ally the same guys, just with much busier sched­ules,” Jonathan said, as he drove both broth­ers back to their re­spec­tive house-ren­o­va­tion sets in his Chrysler 300.

They do, how­ever, en­joy many perks. Just a few days be­fore Barack Obama left the White House, the broth­ers took a pri­vate tour of the Oval Of­fice and West Wing. (“There is a lot of great char­ac­ter you would want to keep,” Drew said, “but there are a lot of things that are due for an up­date.”) They re­cently vis­ited NASA and ex­pe­ri­enced vir­tual re­al­ity with as­tro­nauts. While film­ing in Galve­ston, they took in a Hous­ton Rock­ets game and played Ping-Pong with the team’s gen­eral man­ager.

When they were chil­dren, they said, they per­formed fre­quently in com­edy and im­prov, and as clowns

The broth­ers live in a con­stant cy­cle of prod­uct pro­mo­tion and never tire of pos­ing for self­ies with fans

for hire. The broth­ers be­gan buy­ing, ren­o­vat­ing and flip­ping real es­tate when they were 18. The idea was to use real es­tate as a ve­hi­cle to fi­nance ca­reers in entertainment.

In 2009, pro­duc­ers in Canada saw an op­por­tu­nity to get in on the re­al­ity TV real es­tate boom. The pitch, Jonathan said, was “two good look­ing guys in tight jeans do­ing home ren­o­va­tions; we said, ‘Sure, we’ll do that.’” The show aired on Cana­dian cable in 2010 and in 2011 was picked up by HGTV.

Am­bi­tions

Their am­bi­tions go much fur­ther than posts and beams.

They would like to do a talk show, and say they have been ap­proached by “sev­eral big broad­cast net­works” but don’t think the tim­ing is right. Jonathan said he was “very into con­ser­va­tion and so­lar en­ergy.” He has writ­ten a doc­u­men­tary se­ries about re­new­able en­ergy, and would like to write more in the fu­ture, mov­ing be­yond his usual out­put of “in­spi­ra­tional things and cheesy things for our fans.”

Drew would like to re­sume his act­ing ca­reer, but time has been short. He and Jonathan had cameo roles on the USA Net­work’s “Play­ing House,” and say they have been of­fered guest roles on shows like “Cas­tle.”

To­gether, the broth­ers have also writ­ten two screen­plays, which they plan to pro­duce (in ad­di­tion to their fa­ther’s cow­boy pic­ture). The first one they would like to make, Jonathan said, is “a dark com­edy that fol­lows the life of a pro­fes­sional ‘hook up’ artist as he dis­cov­ers his own lone­li­ness through the ro­man­tic mis­ery of others — it’s kind of like ‘Hitch’ meets ‘The Han­gover.’” An­other, he added, “is about a band of broth­ers who come from a small­town up­bring­ing with whole­some val­ues.”

Who might they en­vi­sion play­ing the lead roles? Orig­i­nally Drew en­vi­sioned his brother and him­self as the stars. But what he re­ally wants to do is di­rect.

PHO­TOS BY TODD SPOTH, NYT

Celebrity de­sign­ers and broth­ers, Drew and Jonathan Scott hang out on the roof of a lo­cal condo dur­ing a pro­duc­tion day for their show, “Brother vs. Brother”.

The con­struc­tion site for Team Drew dur­ing a pro­duc­tion day for “Brother vs. Brother,” in Galve­ston, Texas. In seven years, the iden­ti­cal twins Drew and Jonathan Scott, 39, have gone from as­pir­ing celebri­ties to HGTV head­lin­ers.

PHO­TOS BY TODD SPOTH, NYT

Drew Scott talks crew mem­bers prior to film­ing an out­door scene dur­ing a pro­duc­tion day.

Jonathan Scott and a lo­cal con­trac­tor dur­ing film­ing for the HGTV show, “Brother vs. Brother”.

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