The Insider

Jul 7, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Even Carol Duvall, veteran of five decades on TV, queen of crafts and patron saint of pack rats everywhere, was surprised to realize she had churned out 1,000 episodes of her eponymous show that airs 11 times a week on HGTV. “I hadn’t been counting,” says Ms. Duvall. She had been too busy keeping her nimble fingers on the pulse of the $20 billion-a-year crafts industry-“altered” books are big now, so don’t toss them out. Pretty (and glue) them up and put them to other, less predictable uses.
Then, too, there was that scare last year when, being uncharacteristically lethargic and short of breath for four days, she landed in the hospital in her home state of Michigan instead of Los Angeles, where she was scheduled to host a series of live holiday specials that are a winter ritual on HGTV. It was a circulatory problem she had never heard of but that would, just a few months later, claim the life of NBC News correspondent David Bloom in Iraq. “When I realize how close I came …” she says now, when the biggest reminder of that fright and the recovery might be the elastic support hose she pulls on to help keep blood flowing when she’s on a plane.
Twice a year she heads for Los Angeles, where she spends six weeks on her set at Weller-Grossman studios taping and polishing 65 episodes. With the help of a repertory of upbeat guests, she will show viewers everything from how to knit and felt their own purses to how to make their own beads and baskets and paper-and-stamped-velvet whatevers. Or how stencils can help even the painting-averse but always good-natured Ms. Duvall produce designs that look like high art.
When the 1,000th episode was taped recently (it will air during the fourth quarter), Ms. Duvall was surrounded by a number of her favorite characters, including a cake version of the sock monkey she has helped rescue from craft oblivion. Also present: executive producer Robb Weller, who first worked with the star crafter on ABC’s late, lamented daytime “Home Show” and who marvels at her ability to think like a director, producer and writer as well as a crafter. “Some people can maybe fake it for 100 shows. And if you’re the luckiest person, you could maybe fake it for 200 shows,” he says. “But you can’t fake it for 1,000 shows.”
A Baby CNN Headline
The best news to come out of CNN June 18 was a baby bulletin. After months of infanticipating, CNN spokesman Matt Furman became a proud papa that night. Proud Mama Liz and little Joshua Edward were doing fine at last update. Mr. Furman sounded a bit sleep deprived. Wait till Josh crawls as fast as those headlines roll across the bottom of CNN programming.