There were few bigger American reality TV stars than Ty Pennington in the early part of this century. As the presenter of the hit series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, he worked his way into the hearts of viewers across the land. However, Pennington vanished from the small screen after that, for some very good reasons.
As the 1990s came to a close, TV content began to change in a major way. Indeed, reality TV shows became increasingly popular during that period, attracting viewers far and wide. And you could argue that Pennington was among the more popular figures from that fascinating time in the industry.
After Pennington made his debut on the small screen in the year 2000, he landed the presenting role for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in 2003. The show centered around him and a team of workers, as they fixed up houses for struggling families over the course of a week. It ultimately proved to be a ratings favorite.
Furthermore, Pennington became a massive star thanks to the program, which led to some other exciting opportunities in the following years. But in recent times, his presence on the small screen has been limited. As it turns out, there are a few explanations behind the popular host’s disappearance from our screens.
Born in October 1964, Pennington grew up alongside his mom and older brother in Atlanta, Georgia. As a single mother, Yvonne Burton raised the two youngsters on her own, ahead of meeting her second husband. He subsequently welcomed them into his family, with the future TV star taking up his last name.
In the years after that, Pennington earned his education at Sprayberry High School. He also started to take an interest in woodwork outside of class, which came in handy later in life. At that time, Pennington wanted to enroll at college, but didn’t have the money to pay for it.
So with that in mind, Pennington took on a position at a construction site, putting his skills to the test. Thanks to that, he was able to become a student at Kennesaw State University. The reality TV host decided to study history and art there, which he combined with his day job.
However, while Pennington had some carpentry experience at that point, he didn’t have aspirations of making a career out of it. In fact, he found the idea of moving into the art sector, specifically graphic design, more interesting. To that end, he made a significant decision regarding his studies at college.
After talking with a teacher at the college, Pennington left Kennesaw State University for another facility. He soon enrolled at the Art Institute of Atlanta, where he took classes in graphic design. The student eventually earned his diploma in the subject, ahead of a very interesting period in his life.
Indeed, Pennington started to talk with a talent spotter from the modeling industry in his last year at college. Off the back of that, he then began to work as a model for the likes of Diet Coke, Sprite and Swatch. Due to his new role, the graduate moved around frequently too, as he lived in countries such as Germany and Japan.
Following that unique experience, Pennington finally got the chance to use his skills as a graphic designer back home. One of his most high profile jobs came on the set of the 1995 movie Leaving Las Vegas. He took on the role of a “set production assistant” on that occasion.
Yet it would take another five years before Pennington made his big break in TV. At that stage, the TLC network recruited him to work on a show called Trading Spaces. The program focused on a different pair of neighbors each week, as they redesigned a specific space in the other’s house.
Pennington’s role on the show was that of a carpenter, while he could also call upon his skills as a designer as well. Fans quickly took to the Atlanta native, but few could’ve predicted what happened next. After three years on Trading Spaces, he left in 2003 to pursue an exciting opportunity.
That year, the ABC network asked Pennington to front a new TV series for them. Of course, we’re referring to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. To begin with, the show was only meant to run for 13 episodes, yet those plans soon changed thanks to its tremendous success.
As a result of that, Pennington became a household name in America, with the show going from strength to strength. To give you an idea of how hard he was working during that period, the host dedicated around 240 days to the job each year. He didn’t intend to stop, regardless of illness or physical injury.
By 2012 the popular program was in its ninth season, with Pennington continuing on as host. However, that impressive run came to an end later that year, as we’re about to discover. After more than 200 episodes, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was scrapped by the network, leaving the star crestfallen.
Off the back of the cancelation, Pennington then sat down for an interview with Parade magazine in December 2012. During their conversation, he touched upon his feelings regarding the show’s conclusion. And alongside that, the famous carpenter also spoke about the lessons that he learned over those nine memorable years.
Pennington told the publication, “I think what Extreme taught me is that as an artist, what you create with your hands has a lasting difference and actually makes someone’s life better. It’s something that I’ll always be proud of. [But] of course [I miss it], are you kidding me? That’s my family.”
Meanwhile, Pennington raised an interesting point after that. He revealed, “My friend recently said, ‘Oh my God, dude. You look rested.’ Now, I actually have a chance to try to get some of the things in my life in order. When you’re on that show, you’re literally traveling every three days.”
“Everything is on hold until you can get back to it,” Pennington added. “So I’m trying to reconnect with my own family and breaking ground on a sustainable home I’m building for myself in northern Florida.” Since that time, though, the Atlanta native’s appearances on the small screen have been less and less.
Pennington was still a regular fixture on TV after Extreme Makeover: Home Edition got canceled, featuring in other shows. Unfortunately for him, none of those efforts reached the heights of his previous work, so they were scrapped too. But that’s not the only reason behind the host’s disappearance from our screens.
For instance, did you know that Pennington suffers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Better known as ADHD, he’s coped with the condition since childhood, yet he didn’t publicly reveal the diagnosis until 2012. As for how this could’ve affected his TV career, the presenter opened up during an interview with HuffPost.
“Back then, [the doctors] didn’t even know what to call it,” Pennington said of his ADHD in February 2012. “They put me on antihistamines to try and make me drowsy. They tried everything. It certainly affected my confidence and my belief in myself.” Pennington then went on to discuss the symptoms of the condition.
Pennington continued, “Hyperactivity is just one aspect of ADHD. There’s distractibility and there’s impulsivity. I was the type of kid who would jump off a building — not only would I get a rush from it, people might laugh and think it was cool. I’m that kid and you don’t really grow out of it.”
Then, Pennington explained that he was in contact with a psychiatrist to help control his ADHD, while also taking certain medicines. However, the TV star went on to make a frank admission about himself. In fact, it might shine a light on why he’s not a mainstay on the small screen right now.
“[ADHD] affects the way you communicate,” Pennington added. “Not only that, but if you can’t pay attention to someone who’s trying to tell you something and then you forget that they even said it, they think that you may not even care. Imagine what that’s like with not only your relationships at home, but at work.”
Furthermore, there could be a few other reasons for Pennington’s television absence. Back in 2013, he struck a deal with the Sears department store chain, creating a new garden furniture range for people across the country. And his work with the famous brand didn’t end there, as we’ll soon find out.
Some 12 months on from the first deal, Pennington took part in another intriguing project with Sears. Known as the “Building Community Together” program, this movement encouraged members of the public to fix up old buildings. The carpenter was there from the beginning, working on a number of different properties.
When the project got going in 2014, Pennington sat down to talk with the Do It Yourself website. During their chat, he explained why this was so important to him, highlighting some of the work he was doing. In addition to that, the handyman shared an interesting figure with the site too.
“We’re working with Sears Home Services here in Tampa and we’re renovating a 100-year-old church and turning it into a community center,” Pennington said. “We’re also renovating three other houses in the area. Of course, the other cool thing is with Sears Home Services we’re employing over 1,000 people nationwide, which is great.”
Pennington then added, “I’ve done things with Sears before — built a house for a family after [Hurricane] Sandy up on the Jersey coast. I love doing what I can, giving back to the community. The impact I think will be pretty phenomenal. You have all kinds of people in the community all cheering. It’s sort of like an Extreme Makeover.”
If that wasn’t enough, Pennington joined up with a second organization in 2014 to help even more people in need. The charity in question was the Abōd Shelters Foundation, which aimed to build houses for those who required them. Since the host offered up his services, he’s been hailed for his hard work.
Although you can’t deny that Pennington has kept himself busy away from the small screen, there’s something else to consider. While Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was at its height, the show’s star was involved in a major incident. And it’s believed that the cloud from this continues to hang over Pennington today.
For you see, the police took Pennington into custody in early May 2007 for drunk driving. He spent a short amount of time behind bars in the early hours of the morning, before leaving his cell on bail. At that point, the Atlanta native released a message to the public.
Pennington explained, “I made an error in judgment. We all make mistakes; however, this is about accountability. Under no circumstances should anyone consume alcohol while driving. I could have jeopardized the lives of others and I am grateful there was no accident or harm done to anyone.” But his statement didn’t end there.
“This was my wake-up call,” Pennington added. “I also want to apologize to my fans, ABC Television and my design team for my lapse in judgment and the embarrassment I have caused.” Later that month, he had to answer to his charges at a court hearing, where he made a big decision.
Instead of dragging proceedings out, Pennington made a “no contest” plea. Due to that, he got probation for 36 months and faced a fine of around $1,500. The presenter needed to visit an “alcohol education program” for 90 days as well, rounding off the sentence from the judge.
So keeping all of that in mind, there are plenty of potential explanations behind Pennington’s small screen disappearance. However, his fans received a sliver of hope that he could make a triumphant comeback in January 2019 when the revival of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was announced.
Unfortunately for Pennington, though, he wasn’t asked to front the show, as Jesse Tyler Ferguson was confirmed as the new presenter in June 2019. Speaking after that announcement, the carpenter shared his reaction with TMZ. He told the website, “It’s one of the best shows, I think, ever, changing people’s lives.”
Pennington concluded, “Just being a part of that show for anybody — it’s just going to be the best thing to ever happen to [Ferguson]. It’s just an awesome thing. I shouldn’t hog all the good vibes. You don’t find that kind of quality, like real true honest good [TV now]. Besides, I’m too old for that, man!”