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July 2009 Issue

UC faculty members Jen and Jake Forrester, pictured with their 2-year-old son, Max (another son, Noah, arrived June 25), starred on the DIY Network reality show, “10 Grand in Your Hand.”
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Reality Show Has Doctors Trading Stethoscopes for Sledgehammers

Published July 2009

As we’ve known since the first cave-dwellers disagreed over which wall to paint and where the saber-tooth cat rug should go, do-it-yourself projects can be stressful on a marriage. So can reality TV shows, as demonstrated by “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

So it’s nice to know that a College of Medicine couple, Jake Forrester, MD, and Jen Forrester, MD, managed to survive a reality TV show that followed them as they completed a do-it-yourself (DIY) project in their Delhi Township home. In fact, they actually have positive things to say about the experience.

“10 Grand in Your Hand,” featuring the Forresters, premiered June 24 on the DIY Network (for repeats, check And no, the show doesn’t simply hand over $10,000 to the lucky participants—the idea is to follow homeowners as they tackle remodeling projects, with host John DeSilvia offering advice and how-to information on doing some of the basic work and thereby saving thousands.

“We didn’t save the full $10,000 because we didn’t have that much time, but we certainly saved a lot,” says Jen, an infectious diseases fellow who will become an assistant professor in October. “There were easy things like painting, which pretty much anyone can do in a weekend.”

“And demolition,” adds Jake, an assistant professor in the psychiatry department who swings a mean sledgehammer. “The contractor wanted a lot for demolition, and it wasn’t that hard.”

So while the Forresters had a contractor for the master bathroom remodeling project, they donned scrubs and set to work on shaving as much off the price tag as possible while the show’s cameras recorded it all. (Because she was pregnant at the time, Jen played “more of a director’s role,” as Jake puts it.)

“We liked the TV crew, although it was difficult scheduling,” says Jen. “Once they were there, it was fun to do the work with them and learn how to do new things like putting in cabinets and plumbing—things we really didn’t know how to do.”

Adds Jake: “People who know me know I’m generally not a handyman type, so they see the potential humor in me being on a do-it-yourself show.”

Jake’s transformation into TV handyman began with Jen’s interest in HGTV, a sister network of DIY (both are owned by Cincinnati-based Scripps Net-works Interactive) that features shows such as “House Hunters” and “Designers’ Challenge.”

“I knew they had to get people somewhere,” she says, “so I routinely checked online to see if anybody was accepting applications. We saw that this one was filming in the Cincinnati area, so I wrote in and they called me almost right away.”

The Forresters survived a joint phone interview with a producer, who probably was impressed with Jen’s can-do attitude and Jake’s laid-back sense of humor, and were chosen for the show.

In addition to the filming at their home, a one-man crew visited the Academic Health Center campus to film them in their work environment.

The day after the long-awaited premiere, Jake says, “We were happy with the way the show turned out—nothing too embarrassing. It was amazing to see so many days of filming condensed into 20 minutes of show.”

And how do friends and family feel about being connected with a couple of TV stars?

“They love it,” says Jen. “Everybody wants to know how they can get on a show.” 

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