Chip and Joanna Gaines have had to push back the launch of the Magnolia Network, a rebranding of Discovery's DIY Network. This was necessary because the entertainment industry shut down production in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, to sustain interest in their latest project, the "Fixer Upper" stars have been announcing their starting lineup. Among them is a project which has been in the works since Taylor Calmus, a.k.a. Dude Dad, challenged Chip Gaines to a build-off more than a year ago.
The Howard native didn't know what to expect when he posted a "Dude Dad" video challenging Gaines to build a playhouse for charity. He had no idea it would result in the opportunity of a lifetime.
"It was on the day when we were at St. Jude's," Calmus said. "Chip pulled Heidi, my wife, and I into a small room with Joanna and said, `I'm about to change your life'."
They were at St. Jude's Children's Hospital to present a check. With the help of other celebrities, Gaines and Calmus had raised $1.5 million for the hospital with a one-week online fund-raiser.
What Gaines proposed that day was a program for the Magnolia Network called "Super Dad." Calmus said he told his parents, Larry and Julia Calmus, but didn't say much to anyone else.
"I would be lying if I said this was the first big news I took home," he said. "There's been a whole lot of `maybes.' We knew better than to get our hopes up too high."
During the 10 years that he's been in Los Angeles, Calmus has come close to being cast in major television and movie roles more than once. He was even close to selling a television show on one occasion, but that fell through.
"Things come and go quickly in this industry," Calmus explained.
However, since the pilot has been shot and the Gaineses are promoting the program, he feels comfortable in speaking about it now.
"Basically, it will show me and my film crew as we come alongside another dad that needs help on a project," Calmus said.
When the Gaineses made their announcement, popsugar.com described "Super Dad" in this way: "Taylor Calmus loves making kids feel special by creating custom toys and playhouses, and he's using his talents to help other dads make their kids' dreams come true."
Calmus believes "Super Dad" is consistent with his brand, which emerged after he became a father and started to make "Dude Dad" videos. Using comedy, these shows not just the joys of parenthood but also the challenges. By saying the things that all parents think at one time or another, he offers others encouragement.
"Whenever I just kind of tell the truth about how difficult our toddlers are sometimes, I hear from other parents who say, `Today was awful. You don't know how much I needed to hear this'," Calmus said.
"Super Dad" will also draw upon skills he developed while working in construction in high school and college. That, too, is part of the "Dude Dad" branding.
"I don't think I would have had those opportunities if I hadn't had those skills," Calmus said.
He explained that reality shows like "Super Dad" are built around a person and draw on the individual's strengths. For this program, a production crew will follow him and the identified dad around with cameras while they construct a project. The two will be actively collaborating, not working from a script.
"It will be a different experience than filming by myself in my own back yard," Calmus said.
The raw footage will then be edited into a show-length narrative. Thus far, only the pilot has been shot, but Calmus is looking forward to resuming work on "Super Dad" when the crew is able to do so.
"It's a dream come true to finally do a TV show. It's something I've wanted to do forever," he said.
The program will not prevent Calmus from continuing to make his "Dude Dad" videos, but he does anticipate he will slow down while filming "Super Dad."
The weekly "Dude Dad" videos have gained such a following that keeping up with messages he receives is "pretty much a full-time job." He admits that while he tries to answer as many as he can, he is not able to respond to them all.