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DIY Casts Stars in Cars

DIY will try to “broaden its tent” with the addition of celebrity-driven series added to its automotive programming.

The network has been running auto-themed programming on Friday nights, including Classic Rides and Classic Car Restoration. But the new additions will include shows like Celebrity Rides, with guests including Jay Leno of The Tonight Show.

“I'm convinced, after watching the Leno episode … that wives will sit down and watch with their husbands,” said DIY senior vice president and general manager Kathleen Finch.

The first Leno episode, debuting June 24 at 9 p.m., will feature the late night host's collection of Duesenbergs. His cooperation will continue through 2008, with a limited series focused on his restoration of a 1931 Model J418 Woods Towncar from that maker.

Finch said the series idea wasn't a hard sell to Leno: he's a car buff, he watches DIY and he's “our demographic, an affluent male,” Finch said.

Entourage's Kevin Dillon and actor Burt Reynolds will also participate in the celebrity auto programming. Dillon will film six half-hour episodes, building a kit-car replica of the 1955 Porsche Spyder owned by James Dean. Those will debut in mid-2008.

This fall, the network will debut Celebrity Rides: Burt Builds a Bandit. Reynolds will participate in shows restoring a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, like the model he drove in the film Smokey and the Bandit.

Finch said DIY will give the completed, Reynolds-autographed car away to a viewer. But network officials are trying to dream up a more press-worthy method for the give-away than a sweepstakes. DIY is working with an outside agency to come up with a “stunt-driven” way of earning the car that will be promoted with a strong online campaign.

“We want the car going into good hands,” she said.

Separately, the network is coming off its first “Who's Your DIY Daddy?” slate of male-targeted programming, tied to the Father's Day weekend.

On June 16, DIY debuted five back-to-back episodes of its new limited series Man Caves, featuring National Football League veteran Tony “The Goose” Siragusa and home improvement contractor Jason Cameron; followed by a one-hour Man Caves special on June 17. Another new series, Project Treehouse, also made its debut with a Father's Day marathon. Ongoing series featured during the “Who's Your DIY Daddy?” weekend included Rock Solid, Wasted Spaces and Bathroom Renovations.

According to DIY vice president of programming Freddy James, “Tackling projects around the house is how a DIY dad relaxes and unwinds.”