*Cable television is a veritable sea of network programming the likes of which no person over 35 years old could possibly fathom in their childhood. The positive part about it, at least one would think so, is more channels equal more opportunities for minority talent to get a job. That theory continues to play out for a gentleman named Chris Grundy. Nine years ago Grundy was a member of a comedy troupe when a friend reached out to him.
“The show I’ve been doing since 2006,” he explained. “I was doing a guess spot on a HGTV show about 9 years ago. A friend of mine was looking to take up a little time on her show. So, she called me up and said ‘Hey, can I interview you at a coffee shop? We’re going to splash your responses throughout the episode.’ A senior producer on that show watched the interview. Three years later ‘Cool Tools’ came about and she called me. The senior producer? Never met her before, never heard of her. Three years later she calls me and says ‘I saw your interview 3 years ago, we’ve got some stuff to talk about’.”
That’s not normally how television hosts come across their jobs, but apparently Chris Grundy has that special quality that made it all work. And we most certainly are not mad at him. We asked him what a normal day on the set looked like and here’s his response.
“Usually we’ve got a whole bunch of tools that I’m either going to try out and we’re going to shoot them that day, or all the tools will be laid out on a table and I’ll try to break them to find out if they’re ‘Cool Tools’ or I’ll try to find out how they work, find out how much power they need and all the details of them,” Grundy told EURweb.com. “Then we will start the camera up and shoot them and give our evaluation of them. That’s one kind of thing. Another kind of thing is when we go to a hardware show or a builder’s show or something like that. Then it’s just tons and tons of tools everywhere. We just go through and rip them out. We have a ball talking to people who love tools.”
“Sometimes we have tools on the show that are just not cool,” he continued. “Not that it’s not a good tool, but it didn’t do what it said it would do. Sometimes we have people write in and say ‘I have a tool that’s better than that’ or ‘I would never use that tool.’ Some tools have different uses for different needs, and might work for some things but not for others. But it could still be a cool tool. If it just breaks it’s good for nobody.”
As a tools expert one would imagine that people would respect Grundy’s time enough not to try to put one over on him, but a toolmaker can see a windfall in profits if he successfully places one on “Cool Tools”. This fact means that some folks will most certainly try to slip one past Grundy and the gang.
“We were at a hardware convention and one of our researches told us that we should stop by a table,” Grundy explained. “When we got there it was a snake, a plumber’s tool. It was plastic and it was cheap! I broke 3 of them in the span of 10 minutes. I said ‘I’m sorry I just can’t put this on the show.’ It was one of those things where we had a little bit of time to work with these people and it was kind of a waste because it didn’t work.”
“Another one of the challenges is people expect for you to know everything about every tool,” said Grundy. “That’s just hard to do and next to impossible because they’re making new tools every year and keeping up is a challenge.”
Historically speaking, African Americans have been the architects, craftsman, plumbers and brick masons of much of the American infrastructure. This is especially true on the east coast of the United States. However, many African American males have gone away from focusing on a trade, and the once world renowned craftsmanship of the descendants of African slaves is no more. We asked Grundy whether he felt ‘Cool Tools’ could actually act as a catalyst for getting African Americans to rethink craftsmanship and the ‘do it yourself’ attitude of days past.
“I absolutely do! At the conventions that I go to, the appearances that I make, there are so many African Americans who are like ‘You know what? You made me think about it again.’ I absolutely think so. I was just doing a show about two weeks ago and most of the people in line were African American. I looked around and there weren’t a lot of African Americans at the convention, it was just in my line. It’s an amazing thing. I don’t know, I don’t want to get all mushy with it but it’s a proud thing for me. I’m proud of it and my mother gets to say ‘That’s my boy.’
One gets the impression that Chris Grundy is very proud of his heritage and hopes his show contributes to a change for the better among all do-it-yourself types. We asked the “Cool Tools” host whether being the only black host on DIY Network has been an issue for him.
“It’s less of an issue than I thought it would be, to be honest with you,” he explained. “The network wants to put out a good product and they try to find the best people they can for each show. I just feel like one of the family. I don’t think about it most times and when I do it’s a positive experience. When I was offered the job the producer said to me ‘Are you ready for your life to change?’ and I was like ‘Whaaaat? Are you kidding me? You don’t tell me my life is gonna change! Your life is gonna change!’ But, boy was he right. Every where I go people are so nice to me. People feel like they know me, but they don’t know from where. They just give me that look.”
Sounds like things are going very smooth for Chris Grundy and, as we were wrapping up the interview, we find out that Chris has something else coming down the line that’s slated to premiere on DIY Network in August.
“I just got finished shooting a show called ‘Blog Cabin’. It’s been on the show for 6 years and every year there’s a new host. It was shot up in Maine and it premieres August 13th. It is a show where we get all these different guests to come in and show their specialty. It’s gonna be awesome! I’m so proud of the show I can’t even tell you. Talk about being in a unique position! I was up in Maine and they knew I wasn’t from around there. The town I was in was probably about 3 blocks long, but once they found out I was from DIY they were like ‘Well come on in. Let me get you some lobster, let me get you a lobster roll, let me pour that for ya…’ It was 6 weeks and it was great.”
It sounds like things are all good in the hood for the DIY main man Chris Grundy, and we ain’t mad at him in the least. How could you be? We’re not gonna hate, but we will congratulate Chris on his long run on “Cool Tools” and for his upcoming stint on “Blog Cabin” as well. For more information on Chris Grundy, “Cool Tools” or “Blog Cabin” log on to www.diynetwork.com.