Antics on infomercial ratchet up interest among aficionados.
By Deborah Donovan
Daily Herald Real Estate Writer
A guitarist plays his instrument with an electric drill, and
other characters dance and sing -- Stan the cave man, the Tool
Bade, the Tool Nut Widow and the unforgettable Goddess of Tool
Yes, you're watching "Tool TV," a half-hour infomercial
whose following is tool aficionados.
Look, there's the Tool Man, Dwight Sherman, a star who doesn't
hog the spotlight because he insists, "the tools are the
stars of the show."
Sherman is also president of Berland's House of Tools in Lombard
and Palatine. "Tool TV" is a guys' show because more
than 90 percent of the stores' customers are male, said Roger
Bain, writer, producers and director of "Tool TV."
If you're a homeowner, contractor, hobbyist or just someone who's
crazy about tools, you may be a fan. Bain insists he hears from
women viewers, too, who ask for a "Tool TV Hunk."
Despite the wacky antics, serious demonstrations of about 20
new tools take up most of the half-hour show, which is sponsored
by Berland's and the tools' manufacturers. Each machine gets about
one minute of air time, including a demonstration of how it works
in the studio or on a job site.
While one scene was being shot, Sherman strolled toward the camera
showing that the MK Diamond portable tile-cutting saw is truly
"You're smiling," directed Bain. "You are in such
a good mood that you're holding a compact saw you can't even stand
Six people are on the set to keep things working smoothly, including
the camera and sound men.
Bain decides he wants a different look and eventually moves Sherman
out of the " studio" constructed in a warehouse that
Berland's recently purchased. Instead he shoots in a rear area
of the building where walls are recently drywalled and sunshire
streams in from overhead.
"The best footage we get comes from inspiration and spur
of the moment," Sherman said. "It feels more believable
and real and comes off better. That's my take on how it works."
Bain calls Sherman "a natural" in front of the camera.
"We could never have him reading a script off a teleprompter,"
After each demonstration, a "beauty shot" of the tool
appears along with its price at Berland's. Many items are around
$200 each, although some are more expensive.
Bain writes all the songs and performs many of them, sometimes
on camera. Characters like the goddess, wearing a blonde wig that
accidentally slides off when the credits roll, also sing.
People associated with the show insist it has many fans.
"I could be at Kmart in Gurnee or ice rink in the South
suburbs," Sherman said. "People come up to me and say
"It appeals to the trades, of course. And there are some
homeowners who spend time not on the golf cource, but in the shop."
Sherman says he knows a collector who has a 3,000 square-foot
warehouse where he keeps his unused tools.
"The economy is wonderful. They want the best. In tools,
they can afford it. A bunch of people look tools and want to go
to a store just about tools," Sherman said.
Even children as young as 3 and 4 years old like the show, Bain
"They love seeing things work and pound."
In honor of his youngest fans, Bain had an industrial vacuum
cleaner start to attack a Teletubbie after first swallowing golf
balls. Not wanting to go too far or traumatize the little ones,
the Teletubbie is left untouched.
Sherman said the fact that manufacturers are eager to pay to
be on the show is proof of it's popularlity.
The show's fan support is backed up by Jerri Blount, account
executive at WJYS, Channel 62, the station where "Tool TV"
Other advertisers ask to run right after "Tool TV"
to take advantage of its audience she said, and people call in
to compliment the show or complain if they can't find it.
The show airs at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. Saturdays
and 3:30 p.m. Sundays and will be on the air throughout the month
of May. Cable systems run the show on different channels. The
Web site is www.thetoolman.com.
On Friday nights, the particularly wacky highlights of the first
10 episodes air. This show doesn't even try to push products,
but features outtakes and production numbers, such as Santa and
Three cave people taped in black and white burst into color when
they see Berland's, for example. And Sherman is actually sucked
inside a vacuum cleaner.
"We're zany or surreal or silly or whatever," Bain
The writer-producer-director says he has never watched Tim Allen's
"Home Improvement" show, which is nearing the end of
its first-run production. He insists the network show did not
inspire "Tool TV."
"That's the Hollywood version, this is a Lombard/Arlington
Heights version," said Bain, a resident of Arlington Heights.
Bain, producer of "Tool TV," discusses a scene
with Dwight Sherman, the Tool Man and president of Berland's
House of Tools.
Kawal of Chicago has an unusual talent -- he can play
his guitar with a drill.
makers of "Tool TV" aren't afraid to try some
zany things including having a cave man join in a tool