‘Extreme’ career in telling human stories

Cramsey feels being a woman is an advantage with job

In 2003 when Denise Cramsey left “Trading Spaces” at the height of its popularity, she knew what she was doing. Today she’s on the road as an executive producer of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

A native of Allentown, Pa., Cramsey began as a health reporter; her career blossomed at Philadelphia-based Banyan Prods. “That’s where I did ‘A Baby Story’ and ‘A Wedding Story’ and where we did ‘Trading Spaces’ as well. I was lucky for five years to be able to work close to home. My ambition was always to create TV, but the success of ‘Trading Spaces’ gave me the notoriety to make the leap to Los Angeles.”

After “Trading Spaces,” Cramsey spent a year with Universal Domestic Television. “It was immediately prior to the NBC merger. I had an overall deal with them, helping kick off their ‘Home Delivery’ syndicated strip. I worked on the pilot of that show and a Bravo show, ‘Manhunt: The Search for America’s Most Gorgeous Male Model.'”

In 2004, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was entering its second season, “double shooting” two teams simultaneously in different parts of the country. Cramsey had worked with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” host Ty Pennington on “Trading Spaces.” Pennington suggested they ask Denise to join the team. She was hired that September.

“A Baby Story” and “A Wedding Story” might seem worlds apart from home improvement shows, but Cramsey doesn’t agree. “At the heart of everything I’ve done, it’s about telling human stories, and telling them at the most dramatic points of their lives — whether they’re getting married on ‘A Wedding Story,’ having a baby on ‘A Baby Story,’ going through surgery on ‘Health Matters’ or getting a brand new house and a new start on life on this show.”

She doesn’t want to sound sexist, but she feels being a woman is an advantage in her current job: “As a whole, women are more nurturing. When you move a family out of the only home they’ve known, no matter how bad it is, and seven days later bring them back to this whole new house, you have to think about their hearts. I have to make sure their new house is filled with family photos so they find something they recognize. I have to make sure we spruce up some of the furniture and materials from their old house and put them back in the new house so it feels like home. As a woman I think about those things — they’re able to come to my mind easier than if I were a man.”

Being on the road is important, too. “The families’ stories are so intimate I feel I need to be near them in order to tell their stories correctly.”

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