By Jeff Clark/Monroe Journal
BERDEEN – The City of Aberdeen will be the setting for a six-hour “docudrama” for HGTV that will follow one of its most famous natives as he attempts to complete some personal renovation projects there. The “untitled Billy B.” project will begin shooting in Aberdeen next week according to World of Wonder Producer Dawn Stroupe. The show will feature celebrity make-up artist Billy B. (Billy Brasfield) as he renovates some of the properties he owns in Aberdeen.
“We are very excited about this project,” Stroupe said. “We plan to shoot sixweeks in Aberdeen over a 12-week period. The show will be aired in six one-hour segments later this year on HGTV. This will be shot in Aberdeen because of Billy’s mission — he wants to give back to his hometown. He is very passionate about this project. He is a very caring person with a huge heart.”
As the owner of several properties in Aberdeen, Brasfield said the idea for the show grew from discussions with his friends and associates.
“Anytime I talk about Aberdeen to people who aren’t from there, they never believe me when I tell them how inexpensive it is to buy a home in Aberdeen, especially an historic home,” Brasfield said. “There’s a certain fascination with that. I was talking with a magazine editor once and explaining how I had never planned to return to Aberdeen when I left Aberdeen more than 25 years ago, but yet I started buying homes there wanting to improve the community.”
The editor happened to be free-lance writer Isabel Gonzalez who took Brasfield’s story and turned it into a cover story for the Home and Garden section of the “New York Times” in 2006.
Telling his story
“After the article appeared in the Times, I started getting calls from producers who said my story would make a good TV show,” Brasfield said. “I’m very comfortable with what I do – I love what I do for a living and I never had any aspirations to get involved with television. But, I started talking with some of the producers about doing a show showcasing me in Aberdeen.”
Brasfield said he then signed a development deal with World of Wonder Productions, a company that produces numerous HIT shows such as “Rupaul’s Drag Race.” the Tori Spelling reality show “Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood” and “Million Dollar Listings. Brasfield had worked with the company, doing makeup on a few projects.
“I liked this company and I felt comfortable with them,” he said. “But I never actively pursued this. I just didn’t think about it.”
After shooting THE pilot for the first show I shot in Aberdeen a few years ago — there was a lot of interest in the show, but it had not yet come to fruition, Brasfield said he just stayed busy his career as a makeup artist and he had not thought much about about the TV project, but all of that changed a few months ago.
“My contract had ended with World of Wonder but one of the company’s owner’S Randy Barbato, called me and asked if I was still interested in doing a show – and now we begin shooting next week,” Brasfield said. “I never thought it would happen – I still can’t believe it.”
The waiting game
Brasfield said that although the wait for the program to materialize was lengthy, it was worth the wait to find a home at HGTV. Brasfield said he is a big fan of the network and he felt comfortable being with HGTV.
“This is a docudrama, which is new for HGTV,” he said. “This is just going to be about what I do in Aberdeen – HGTV is truly interested in my story. My mom (Ruth Brasfield) will be one of the people featured in the show,as well as Dwight Stevens and other Aberdeen residents.The production company will be bringing in a small army of people to shoot the show. The crew will be Eating and sleeping and working in Aberdeen and spending as much money as we can there.MY hope is that people watch the show will fall in love with Aberdeen and buy a home there.
Over the six hour mini-series, the show will document Brasfield juggling his life and work in Aberdeen, the renovation of several Aberdeen properties and his work with Stevens and the Save Aberdeen Landmarks group.
With the shooting to begin soon, Brasfield said he is excied to get to work on the show.
“I am very excited to work with World of Wonder and HGTV,” Brasfield said. “But most importantly, I hope my hometown will reap some of the benefits.”