Talk about a weighty vote of confidence: The second season of ABC's summer series Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition doesn't launch until June 3, but ABC has already given the show a third-season pickup (15 two-hour episodes) to air in summer 2013.
The early order comes out of production necessity. Each episode chronicles one person's journey over an entire year, which means the show needed to start shooting Season 3 this spring to meet next year's airdate. "In my mind, this is a huge franchise that has been on the air for a while, but in reality, only eight episodes have aired so far," says executive producer JD Roth.
Roth is proud of Season 2 and says the strength of the stories convinced ABC to pick up Season 3. Motivational trainer Chris Powell is back as host, and Walmart has joined as a sponsor. In expanding the show to two hours, Roth says, "we can let the story breathe. There's much more storytelling now."
A handful of people featured in Season 2 have signed on to appear as weight-loss "ambassadors" next year, including Tony, a man who ballooned to 400 pounds while working in a fast-food restaurant and who disappeared for a time during taping because he became homeless. "He was worried that we'd kick him off the show if we knew," Roth says.
Another participant who's back as an adviser on Season 3 is Jacqui, who came to the show at 360 pounds. Roth, a veteran of The Biggest Loser, says, "She's the greatest transformation I've ever seen for any show I've done." That's totally Extreme.