‘Flip or Flop Atlanta’ Was Not Supposed to Be Part of HGTV Franchise

Plus: Designer Anita Corsini tells TheWrap why she’s not trying to be the next Joanna Gaines

Ken and Anita Corsini

“Flip or Flop Atlanta” was not originally going to be an expansion of the hit HGTV “Flip or Flop” franchise, stars Ken and Anita Corsini told TheWrap. It just sort of worked out that way.

A few years back, a “random casting director” discovered the Corsinis, a married contractor (him) and designer (her), after coming across their home-flipping investment business, Ken told us ahead of Thursday’s season premiere. Together, they made a pilot called “Flipping the South,” which aired on HGTV under that title in May 2016.

“The pilot I guess did well enough that they ordered a season,” Ken said. “It wasn’t until we even started filming our season that they changed their mind and folded us into the ‘Flip or Flop’ franchise.”

Here’s some of the timing on how that went down: In January 2017, the original “Flip or Flop” couple, Tarek and Christina El Moussa, filed for divorce. A month earlier they had announced their separation. In March 2017, after what the channel now tells us was the culmination of one year of development, HGTV ordered five “Flip or Flop” spinoffs.

One was the Corsini’s revamped series, and they were cool with the rebrand.

“I think everybody felt pretty good about it,” Ken told us. “To me, that’s immediate name recognition and you’re folded into a proven franchise that has the ratings.”

“And a format that viewers [know what to] expect,” Anita said. “In a house-flipping show, it tells a story, right? You’ve got a beginning, a middle and an end. People — the fans and the audience — know what to expect.”

She’s right, you know. HGTV shows are beloved by fans, in part, because of their wonderful and predictable formulas. The accessible and repeatable format has made Discovery Inc.’s new prize possession one of the most bingeable and steady TV channels.

One thing viewers can’t count on anymore, however, are new episodes from “Fixer Upper” super-couple Chip and Joanna Gaines. Those two had the only show on HGTV that was higher-rated than the El Moussa’s “Flip or Flop.”

In the summer, HGTV boss Kathleen Finch told TheWrap that they’re not looking for a new couple to takeover the Gaines’ now-former show — but that doesn’t mean HGTV isn’t looking for its new Joanna Gaines. It’d be crazy not to.

This reporter asked Anita if there is a bit of an arms race (for admittedly a lack of a better phrase) among the channel’s current stable of designers to fill the popular Joanna Gaines’ shoes as unofficial “HGTV darling.”

“You know, I don’t think so,” she replied. “Because here’s the deal: At the end of the day, there’s just one Joanna Gaines in this world. And I want Joanna Gaines to do her thing. I’m really proud of her. She’s done an amazing job. She’s an amazing mother and wife and designer.”

“Just like there’s only one Joanna Gaines in this world, there’s only one Anita Corsini,” she continued. “So I want her to do her thing and I want to do my thing.”

“I don’t know that there’s necessarily a race to the finish,” Anita said. “If there is, I don’t know about the contest. I’m just gonna be who I am, and if I need to jump in a lane, I’ll jump in the lane.”

Jump in to a new season of “Flip or Flop Atlanta,” which premieres Thursday night at 9/8c on HGTV.