The feel-good TV industry has never been more cutthroat, with the likes of Oprah, the Miracle Workers, and even Deal or No Deal's Howie Mandel locked in a pitched battle to lavish America's tragedy-afflicted souls with their own brand of televised redemption. Nowhere is this suffering-talent crunch felt more acutely than at ABC's genre-leading Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where the casting department has assembled a wishlist of interesting diseases and tear-jerking hard knocks that they feel will help keep their series atop the Nielsen mountain during their new season. The Smoking Gun has obtained an internal e-mail enlisting the help of ABC's affiliates in tracking down families touched by these dramatic misfortunes:
· Extraordinary Mom/Dad Recently diagnosed with ALS · Family who has a child w/ PROGERIA (aka "little old man disease")
· Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, referred to as CIPA by the few people who know about it. (There are 17 known cases in US—let me know if one is in your town!) This is where kids cannot feel any physical pain.
·Muscular Dystrophy Child - Amazing kid who is changing people's views about MD.
·MADD / Drunk Driving - Family turns tragedy into triumph after losing a child to drunk driving
· Family who has multiple children w/ Down Syndrome (either adopted or biological)
· Amazing/loved Mom or Dad diagnosed w/ melanoma / skin cancer
· Home Invasion 0 family robbed, house messed up (vandalized) - kids fear safety in their home now.
· Victims of hate crime in own home. Family's house victim of arson or severely vandalized.
We wish the Extreme Makeover team the best of luck in their casting adventures, but worry that their redoubled efforts might yield too many candidates; the greatest tragedy of all would be for this casting sweep to turn up a dozen or so equally deserving PROGERIA and CIPA sufferers, necessitating a four-day miniseries on the building of one enormous mega-structure of compassion to house every heartbreaking case. Ty Pennington's already overtaxed tear ducts might never recover from the effort.