Washington Post; TVWeek

Questions Still Unanswered About Bizarre Ending of Ellen DeGeneres’ Furniture Design Show on HDTV. Another ‘Twist’ to Come Today?

Mar 5, 2015  •  Post A Comment

Updated at 8:17 a.m. (PT) on March 5, 2015 to include a clip released by “The Ellen Degeneres Show” of Ellen interviewing Tim McClellan. Video is at end of this item. In it, Tim says he does not recall ever seeing the table that he is accused of copying. That said, he does realize that it appears similar to the one he conceived of and built. Ellen says the tip came to the show anonymously. She also says that she will work again with Tim in some capacity. No other issues were addressed in the clip.


By Chuck Ross

Ellen DeGeneres got the hype started this past Monday afternoon, March 2nd,  at 1:21 in the afternoon (PT) when she tweeted “Tonight’s the finale of my Design Challenge on HGTV. You’re not gonna believe what happens at the end. I promise it’s not what you think.”

Later that day she tweeted, “My Design Challenge finale is about to start! I’m telling you, you’re not gonna believe what happens.”

As the finale wound down, DeGeneres tweeted, “Who would you pick to win the show?”

And then “Make sure to watch ’til the very end, ‘cause it ain’t over ’til it’s over. And it ain’t over.”

And next, breathlessly, “Make sure to watch ’til the very end, ‘cause it ain’t over ’til it’s over. And it ain’t over.”

And THEN: “Here comes the twist. Don’t miss the ending!”

Phew. She ended her tweet string with this: “What a great season full of incredible designers & pieces. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thanks for watching!”

Judging from the explosion in social media after the “twist” reveal, most viewers did not seem to be having the fun watching the end of the short six-episode season that DeGeneres had hoped they had.

As we previously reported, Ellen announced that contestant Tim McClellan won “Ellen’s Design Challenge,” which included $100,000 and having his work featured in a spread in HGTV magazine. Confetti fell from the ceiling, hugs were had all around. McClellan was thrilled.

Then, on the screen flashed the words “One Week Later”

That’s when viewers were told, matter of factly, that McClellan had been disqualified because of the similarity of his last piece of furniture to another piece of furniture already available in the marketplace.

An unseen narrator says “After the finale, it was discovered there was an existing piece of furniture designed by European designer Simon Schacht that resembles Tim’s. That led to the conclusion that Tim did not fulfill the requirement of the final challenge, which was to create an original piece.”

On-screen viewers saw both McClellan’s final piece and Schacht’s piece. Yes, they were similar. Viewers were then told that the runner-up, Katie Stout, had won the design challenge, including the $100,000 and the spread in HGTV magazine. Viewers then saw Stout again, this time on the set of Ellen’s talk show, where Stout had been invited so Ellen could surprise her with the news that Tim had been disqualified and that she was actually the winner of the design challenge. More confetti, hugs and end of show.

Regardless of viewers’ reactions, we can tell you that “Ellen’s Design Challenge” was “among the highest rated series in HGTV history,” according to an announcement HGTV put out Tuesday afternoon, the day after the finale aired.

The announcement continued, “The finale on Monday, March 2, which was the highest-rated show of the night on HGTV, averaged a .86 P25-54 rating — making HGTV a top 10 rated cable network in primetime among viewers P25-54. Averaging a .83 P25-54 rating this season, the six-episode furniture design competition grew 48% versus the prior 13 week average. Since its premiere on Monday, January 28, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, ‘Ellen’s Design Challenge’ consistently ranked as a top 10-rated cable program for the Monday 9P-10P time period among P25-54.”

One of the reporters covering “Ellen’s Design Challenge” has been Emily Yahr of the Washington Post. Yahr is described by the Post as a reporter who “covers pop culture and entertainment for” the paper.

Though HGTV was quick to get out the ratings for the show, Yahr has not been about to get any answers about why the ending of the show was so bizarre. Yahr writes, “Angry viewers filled Twitter and HGTV’s Facebook page with hundreds of comments, the majority feeling cheated that McClellan (a fan favorite) saw his prize money taken away and reputation tarnished by a mysterious ruling. So many unanswered questions remained: Who realized that McClellan’s table resembled Schacht’s? When did they find out? Who tipped them off? Why didn’t they realize this before awarding him a “life-changing” prize? And most importantly: Was this all a publicity stunt to get more viewers?”

Yahr adds, “HGTV has remained mum: A spokeswoman would only give us the same statement uttered by the narrator.  Meanwhile, McClellan hasn’t returned multiple calls we made to his Arizona furniture store — but is apparently scheduled to make an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Thursday. Which just underscores the other strange vibe of this whole thing.”

Yahr then quotes the tweets DeGeneres made above and notes that DeGeneres has also hyped McClellan’s appearance on her “Ellen” talk show on Thursday with this tweet: “It’s the most talked about moment in furniture design show history. Tim was disqualified after winning my show.Thursday he tells me his side.”

Yahr then writes, “…why would a producer appear so openly gleeful about a ‘twist!’ that leaves one person admittedly elated, but another whose reputation and bank account takes a hit? Or is this another famous DeGeneres prank? Can we expect a ‘twist’ happy ending where McClellan keeps his prize after all?”

We here at TVWeek have had the same thought. Like Yahr and a lot of “Design Challenge” viewers, we have similar questions about the finale, and could find no one connected with the show willing to answer any of our questions on Wednesday. One person with knowledge of the circumstances of what really went down who declined to answer any of our questions on Wednesday, added that a further conversation with us could take place after the airing of McClellan’s appearance on “Ellen” on Thursday, if we still had any questions.

We also tried to reach McClellan, and though we were told on Wednesday that he was indeed here in Los Angeles – where we are as well – he did not return our phone messages we left with his shop in Arizona (though McClellan was described in the show as being from Durango, Colorado, his shop is actually in neighboring Arizona).

Furthermore, our suspicion is that Yahr is right when she concludes, “With HGTV not providing an explanation, we’re going to guess that even if there is another ‘twist!’ in store, the network has a fundamental misunderstanding about the kind of reality show ‘twists!’ viewers love.”


  1. I was so shocked and disappointed in the confusing and negative ending to the this very entertaining show. What a let down and so surprised that anyone would end a show the way it ended. Tim definitely did not deserve to be treated the way he was and it made him out to be a bad guy. I know him personally and he is one of the nicest and most honest people I have ever known. I can’t imagine Ellen wanting her show to end in such a negative and distasteful way. I hope something can be done to make it up to him and show what an honest and talented person he really is.

    • I’m just really sad that daytime television diverts so much attention away from important matters that we all should be concerned about. We are consuming natural resources, like wood to make furniture none of us “needs”, faster than we can replenish them, while destroying our environment, all in an effort to to make senseless products we neither need or have practical use for.
      I sincerely apologize for what may seem like a negative comment. It is not my intention to point a finger at, or blame the viewers of this show for the world’s problems, but we All need to step back and think about how much we consume, and the toll it takes on our planet. Our children should not have to inherit a world riddled with problems that our apathy and ignorance allowed to go unchecked. Consume less.

      • Instead of “Stepping back and think about” how about actually educating yourself on BOTH SIDES of any claim of disaster.

        Start with- Where is this “Toll” it takes on our planet? Our Planet had it’s start as a burnt out hell, with a surface flowing with lava and completely polluted with volcanic eruptions. According to you, it should be worse than Mars. So how did this fragile Earth of ours manage to become what it is?

        This only begins to demonstrate how little you know, and how YOU are not going to make any difference with our Very Strong and Capable Planet.

        • Your argument makes no sense at all, which seems to indicate that you know even less than the very person you are attempting, unsuccessfully I might add, to criticize. His opinion, and we are all entitled to one, seems to be thoughtful and compassionate. At least he is thinking about how to try to make the world a better place. And your contribution is?

  2. Does anyone else think it strange when they told Katie she won that she did not seem at all surprised? Really? She was very calm and didn’t even ask about Tim being disqualified. Shame on you ellen for being a part of this. I am sure Tim will go on to do great things, but I refuse to watch anything ellen has anything to do with. He was clearly way more talented than Katie and deserved to win the money and the spread in HGTV magazine. You rock Tim.

  3. When did schacht create his piece?

  4. Maybe someone from Ellen’s staff should google “cow table” and see all the tables out there, several with cow legs. Nothing new and Katie’s was disgusting in its completed look – maybe that is why she wasn’t disqualified for not being original.
    Very disappointed in the show as far as judges sucked. The first function of furniture is to be functional otherwise it is a piece of art – nothing more. Now to make furniture that is also art is creative design. The judges miss this fact several times.

    • I couldn’t agree more but if you remember the episode with the cow table was the one Ellen didn’t send anyone home. My guess is that Katie was a favorite of Ellen’s and she didn’t have the heart to send her home even though she deserved it. The judges were terrible and their own opinions were their deciding factor in all their votes. I felt that the week they used the trash and didn’t announce a winner was another time that Katie should have gone home. She didn’t understand the challenge and my belief is that Rachel would have sent her packing. Caspar went home that week because they said his piece looked a like a kitchen island … ridiculous. If that show comes on again HGTV better have better judges and leave their personal opinions at home.

    • My point exactly, Jim. The “winner” could not even do a half-decent copy of a much-produced and cliché table.

  5. I stopped watching Ellen 2 years ago. I find her “pranks” to be mean spirited and not funny at all. Anytime you make fun of, scare, or tease another person for your OWN amusement at the other person’s expense, is akin to bullying, and is unacceptable. Which brings me to the “Design Challenge” show and how it ended, beyond bizarre. It is obvious that Ellen and HGTV cared more about ratings than Tim’s reputation as a talented designer. He deserved to win. Every creation is derivative to some extent. I’m sure every designer on the show “borrowed” from something they have seen in the past. So Ellen’s staff and HGTV better get right on that! Sorry, but Ellen sugar coated the whole fiasco on today’s show. She needs to truly apologize to Tim for what she put him through and to all of us who watched the show and the unfair finale.

  6. Katie should have went home at the cow table. The judging was basis and Katie’s furniture was wood shop quality. Ellen has lost much of my respect. I didn’t find this funny. The wardrobe was the only interesting piece although I felt it a little Disney-esk. It reminded me of The Beauty and the Beast.

  7. Anonymous tip huh? Katie wasn’t surprised at all and didn’t question the decision. Closed set only the audience and people involved in the show knew about tim’s piece. The supposed source desk was some grad school kid’s thesis project from half way around the world. Katie is very much involved in the Art side of things and apparently stays fairly current. All this says to me that Katie was the anonymous tip. But what do I know….

  8. What a shame that the show turned out to be a scam! It appears to have been set up all along.

  9. I had fun watching the design show UNTIL the final episode. I couldn’t believe the judging and disqualification. I will no longer watch the show. It was so disappointing and unprofessional. I guess that’s what happens when you have a comedian try to do a serious show. The only serious thing was the awards and reputation that was taken away from the true winner

  10. I ,too love to watch ‘HER’ show but I too was disappointed at how she end it. SSSOOO sad and disappointed.Hope people see that being funny and respectful of others feelings is truly a character worth more than RATINGS. Bye Ellen

  11. Ellen so this is what all that fame has turned you into, a low life phony. Well you got my attention once and it actually was the first time that I watched anything affiliated with you. Now I can see why I was never a fan and never again will watch anything that you’re connected with for fear that it will be another Ellen – take.

  12. Brian Williams designed this 20 years ago.

  13. just a lesbian trying to stick it to a man. It really stuck in her craw that a man won so she desperately found a reason to disqualify him

    • Sorry Ellen

      There will always be someone out there to blame something on your just because you are a lesbian. MAXJAX you are one of those ass holes to say something like that. You make me sick.

      Sandy White

  14. what the heck i was just done with this sooooo done now

  15. The second “Ellen’s Design Challenge” is now airing. I have not watched 1 second of it.

    To make matters worse on Season 1: If a “copycat” rule was indeed part of the contest, why was Stout’s “cow table” able to pass for original design? You can buy a cow table–and one better constructed–cheap all over the web. Why was she not disqualified before the finale?
    Ellen has a mean streak or a bad sense of what is appropriate. On an awards show she made a humiliating joke about old Liza Minelli (who was up front in the audience). Minelli was in attendance as part of a tribute to Judy Garland’s (her mother’s) career.

    I will never again watch you–now even when the “cow tables” come home. You are a jerk. Just a snide, creepy jerk.

    • Ellen on your show with the piñata and clint
      eastwood do you know who broke the piñata open? I made it and sent you homemade socks and I wanted to know if you got them

  16. Ellen I just want to know if your show is cancelled , I mean your talk show. If so, shame on you , so many people count on you and your show everyday. You are solely responsible for the happiness of all the people with disability , weather it be mental or physical. We love you!!! God bless!!! We pray for you for all the good you do for humanity.

  17. Ah yes, “anything_for a buck” Ellen Degeneres. She USED tobe FUNNY now just a sad old phony with too much plastic surgey trying to claim its “anti-aging creme”
    The giveaways on her show are by manufacturers and advertisers/ its all fake bs – a 44 minute “infomercial”. But GOOD for YOU degenerass. Keep counting your money and enjoy your plastic no talent “trophy” wife Mandy until she trades you in .

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