Buying a home is a long, sometimes frustrating process even more intensified for a first-time homebuyer.
Craig Bentley and Frank Anthony Polito are both from Michigan, but moved out to New York in 1995 to pursue their acting careers. Now, the two are moving back home and have decided to throw another wrench into their first home-buying process — having it filmed for television.
Bentley and Polito will have their experience shown on HGTV’s “House Hunters” as the couple tries to decide between a house in Pleasant Ridge and two homes in Royal Oak. The first part of filming has been completed with the show still in production, but Bentley and Polito have enjoyed being part of this experience so far.
“We like the show and that is the main reason anyone would want to do it — because they watch it and like it,” Polito, 43, said. “But our friends back in New York will be able to see a little of where we are coming back to, and others we don’t know, we want people to see Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and Royal Oak on TV and see it is a great place to live.”
Polito is originally from Hazel Park, and Bentley grew up in Center Line. The two met at Wayne State University as they were both part of the theatre program.
While the move to New York was an experience, both men have moved their careers in another direction. Bentley works as an industrial spokesperson while Polito has enjoyed a successful writing career, releasing books based on Hazel Park and the surrounding areas.
The idea of getting on House Hunters began when Bentley was recovering from an injury and was told about the show from his physical therapist. Polito sent in the application and, a couple of weeks later, they were contacted for more information.
“Once we got the application done, (HGTV) sent out guidelines for what they were looking for, like they wanted to know why we were moving and what type of properties we were interested in,” Bentley, 43, said. “Frank and I had to take turns taking tours of our apartment in New York and we had to describe a room to show how we would do in front of the camera.”
Being in front of a camera was a natural position for both Bentley and Polito as actors, but being yourself is different than playing a character, Bentley said. A few years ago, Bentley was on another television show, “Cash Cab,” where he was also in front of the camera as himself.
“I have a little advantage being a spokesperson and doing narration because I have to take complicated technology and simplify it down, so when we do interview segments, they want things to be shorter and concise and that was something that came natural to me,” Bentley said of filming “House Hunters.”
“I think the biggest challenge between acting and being in front of the camera as yourself is, when you are playing a character, you make a choice about how you are going to portray that person. But when you see yourself, you think, ‘Do I do that?’ Because the camera is in front of you, you say words you don’t normally say.”
For Polito, the challenge came in trying not to act and just be himself when going over certain shots again.
“In my mind, I am an actor, but as an actor, I would say certain things in a certain way,” he said. “A lot of times what (the filming crew) does is you say what you feel and then they say to say it again. But then they want you to act and that makes it different, and I should be able to do it, but I get self-conscious about doing it and I talk in a voice I don’t know where it came from.”
Bentley and Polito weren’t the only two who had to make sure they were ready to be in front of a camera. Their Realtor, Christa Buchanan, of Real Estate One in Troy, also had to send in an audition tape to HGTV.
Buchanan agreed that remembering how she said something or how she walked was difficult on retakes, but she also had to describe the “drama” of the search, which, in this case, was finding a house quick enough.
“The hardest part of this search was the current housing market, because houses are selling so quickly and selling in a day and over list price,” she said. “Because they were flying in from New York, we were in an area where we had to get them a house before they moved back.
“Even though I found myself being tongue-tied, where words were not coming out correctly, it has been a fun experience so far.”
In keeping with the show’s format, Polito and Bentley had to describe things they wanted in a new home — such as three bedrooms and an updated kitchen — but also things they didn’t agree on. One thing the two had no problem agreeing on, however, was they wanted to paint Detroit and the surrounding area in a good light.
“It will be great to show people what is really happening here instead of just people thinking Detroit is bankrupt and that is the only thing that is happening here,” Bentley said. “There is a lot of great things happening here and that is why we chose to come back.”
An airdate for the episode featuring Bentley and Polito has not been decided and is expected to be determined after shooting wraps at the end of August.
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