NEW YORK – If your family has multiple children with Down Syndrome, a parent with skin cancer or was robbed in a home invasion, ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" may be looking to build you a house.
A producer for ABC's hit Sunday-night show sent a memo — distributed to executives at several ABC affiliates — looking for particular maladies or tragedies to feature on the air.
The memo, written by the show's family-casting director Charisse Simonian, was picked up and distributed widely by " The Smoking Gun" Web site on Monday.
In addition to Down Syndrome and skin cancer, "Extreme Makeover" is looking for families with very specific diseases — muscular dystrophy, ALS or Lou Gehrig Disease, progeria (a genetic disorder where children age prematurely) and a rare disorder where children cannot feel pain.
Show producers also say they are looking to feature a family that has lost a child in a drunk-driving accident, someone whose home has been robbed and vandalized, and hate-crime victims.
The ABC reality show stars builder Ty Pennington and a team that comes in to build a home for families in need. Cancer victims, people who have lost homes to fire and mold and military families with injured veterans have all been in past episodes.
Currently, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is in the midst of four shows attempting to help communities in the path of Hurricane Katrina.
The show's executive producer, Tom Forman, said he was "a little perplexed" at why The Smoking Gun found the memo so interesting.
"It is a woman whose job it is to find families who need help, to find families that need a break and a new home and may not know about this television show," he said. After filming 60 episodes, producers are looking for new stories to keep things interesting for viewers.
The Smoking Gun headlined its story "ABC's `Extreme' Exploitation" and said the memo contained a "creepy wish list of woe."
"At the end of the day you're talking about going to someone who needs it badly and deserves it badly and building them a home that makes life a little easier for them," Forman said. "It's hard to figure out how that's exploitive."