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TV Series Puts Home AV in the Spotlight

If you want to know what was said at the CES launch party for DIY Network's upcoming Hollywood Hi-Tech--"the first TV show devoted to high-end custom installation and audio/video"--you probably shouldn't ask HDTVetc's Adrienne Maxwell. I was sitting next to her at the event and would be shocked if she heard more than

If you want to know what was said at the CES launch party for DIY Network’s upcoming Hollywood Hi-Tech–“the first TV show devoted to high-end custom installation and audio/video”–you probably shouldn’t ask HDTVetc’s Adrienne Maxwell. I was sitting next to her at the event and would be shocked if she heard more than half of it. And yeah, that was my fault. But hey, I had notes to take, too, and I didn’t know half of the celebrity names or faces being bandied about.

The DIY Network’s Hollywood Hi-Tech host Janna Robinson learns more about Lutron lighting control.

“Who’s that?” I whispered as the first clips of the show—which features “lifestyle-technology expert” Janna Robinson revamping the technology in stars’ homes–came pouring out of the 92-inch tiled Runco LCD WindowWall at the Crazy Horse Paris Theater in MGM Grand last Thursday night.

“That’s Kevin Connolly.”

“What’s he do?”

“He’s on Entourage!”

I’ll be honest, if not for Adrienne I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on until the real stars of the show started scrolling across the screen: Crestron touchpanels, Runco projectors, Lutron lighting control, and speakers of all shapes and sizes. Granted, that’s probably the exact opposite of the intended effect, and hopefully the opposite of the actual effect the show will have when it hits DIY Network in June. The goal, according to the panel assembled at the Crazy Horse, is to hook regular viewers with celebrity appearances–including the aforementioned Mr. Connolly, along with Josh Duhamel (a name I recognized; he was in Transformers!) and Khloe Kardashian (not the one with the famous tushy and the sex tape, Adrienne informed me)–and introduce them to the concept of custom installation and integrated home technology in the process.

Crestron receives some quality airtime on Hollywood Hi-Tech.

And hey, it just might work. When’s the last time you saw a Crestron touchpanel spotlighted on TV? How many TV show launch parties have Jennifer Davis, VP of marketing for Planar Systems (I recognized her!), onstage talking about video technology?

Hollywood Hi-Tech host Janna Robinson chat’s with Planar VP of marketing (that’s Runco, in case you forgot) Jennifer Davis, during the show’s launch party at CES 2011.

Granted, all of that may be a bit higher-end than most viewers of the DIY Network are liable to rush right out and buy, but host Janna Robinson was quick to point out that budget is most certainly a concern on the show, and not every episode (of which five have been greenlighted, with one already in the can) will revolve around world-class home theaters: one episode will focus on a two-channel listening room, while another might turn an eye toward automation and lighting control. Robinson is also hoping to do an outdoor theater at some point. By mixing up the projects and bringing in the right technology for each individual job, the show’s producers are hoping not only to keep things interesting, but also introduce viewers to a varied sampling of home entertainment technology and integration services they may never have been otherwise exposed to.

From the clips we were shown, it looks like the series will have a light-hearted bent, and everyone in attendance was quick to point out the delicious irony of a beautiful lady teaching a clueless man how to use a touch panel remote control. But with a three-to-four-day shooting schedule and only a week of prep time for each installation, you can bet the pace of the show will be anything but leisurely.

Will Hollywood Hi-Tech connect with its intended audience? Let’s hope so. Goodness knows our industry needs any push it can get. But I just can’t help giggle at the notion of a bunch of systems integrators glued to their TVs every week, enamored by the technology but as baffled by all the celebrity brouhaha as I am.

As the lights dimmed and we were treated to one more clip from the series, I did recognize one more face, though. I leaned over to Adrienne and whispered, “Isn’t that the guy from Saved by the Bell?!”

“Yeah, that’s Mario López,” she pointed out.

“I wonder what he’s up to these days?”