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TV show films episode in Rex

By Ed Brock

About three years ago, Jenna Williams noticed that the shut-off valve of the water heater in her house in Rex was leaking.

"It was so minute at that time. But it's been steadily increasing over time," Williams said.

So Williams, who has been living in the house in the Biscayne Pointe subdivision off Ga. Highway 42 for five years now, decided to send an e-mail to "Ask This Old House," a spin off of the Public Broadcasting System favorite "This Old House."

"I couldn't get a plumber and I didn't know who to trust so I contacted them to see how I could do it myself," Williams said.

Williams had no idea that her e-mail, one of thousands received by the show on a regular basis, would be picked for a "House Call" segment in which one of the show's stars would come to her house and fix the problem himself. And the whole thing would be filmed for the show.

"I was shocked when I got the call," Williams said. "Shocked and relieved because I knew it would be in good hands."

This is the third season for "Ask This Old House" but the parent show is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a "Meet This Old House" tour of Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Boston and Atlanta. On Wednesday Richard Trethewey, the show's plumbing and heating expert since nearly the first season of "This Old House," and a film crew were in Williams house fixing that leaky shut-off valve.

"This is such a common problem and it's so easy to fix," Trethewey said.

That's the kind of thing that makes for a good "House Call" segment, said Trethewey and the show's producer Chris Dick.

"It's a matter of combing through these thousands of questions and finding one that will resonate to the most with viewers," Dick said.

Working around interruptions like people driving on Williams' street and the delivery of the crew's pizza for lunch, the show's Senior Producer and Director David Vos directed the opening shot in which Trethewey pretends to pull up in a pickup truck and look around for Williams' home.

"She said it had beige siding," Trethewey says, then looking around at a street full of beige houses, turns to the camera and adds "That should narrow it down."

Trethewey then encounters Williams supposedly watering her front lawn and the two go inside the house. Vos and the others had nothing but praise for Williams' performance.

"Jenna, never leave us. Stay with us forever," Vos shouted after a wrap.

For her part, New York City native Williams said she wasn't nervous about her television premiere.

"They're a good bunch of people," Williams said.

Williams has been watching the show for several years now, since the days of original host Bob Villa. She said she hopes one day to own an older home that she can fix up.

"I figure this is the show to watch for all the tips," Williams said.

On Friday Trethewey will join the rest of the cast of "This Old House," including current host Kevin O'Conner, master carpenter Norm Abram, general contractor Tom Silva and landscape contractor Roger Cook will be at the Atlanta headquarters of Home Depot, a major sponsor of the show and the tour. They will talk about the show's most memorable moments and flash forward to the future of the show with presentations at noon, 2:15 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Other events include "Ask the Designer" with instant advice from "This Old House" magazine special projects editor Karen Walden and the "Tool Challenge" in which audience members get to test state-of-the-art tools.

The third season of "Ask This Old House" premiered as the second half of the "This Old House Hour" at 8 p.m. EST on Oct. 7. The episode featuring Williams is scheduled for early 2005, maybe in February or March. For scheduling information go to www.thisoldhouse.com.