Furniture designer Tim McClellan is going on “Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Thursday to respond to allegations he plagiarized a desk he made for “Ellen’s Design Challenge” on HGTV.
In the season finale of the reality TV series, McClellan was named the winner, earning $100,000, but he was disqualified when it was discovered that his piece resembled an existing work from another designer.
“It’s the most talked about moment in furniture design show history,” Ellen DeGeneres said in a hopefully self-aware tweet Tuesday. “Tim was disqualified after winning my show. Thursday he tells me his side.”
The show was taped Wednesday in Los Angeles. It will be seen at 3 p.m. Mountain Time on Thursday on ABC.
HGTV host Chip Wade tweeted a picture of himself on set with McClellan on Wednesday and another photo of the two drinking coffee in Los Angeles.
The reality TV scandal has proved to be a durable topic of online gossip.
The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr slammed the network’s handling of the disqualification, saying plagiarism is too strong a charge to lodge with no follow-up.
“First, that’s an awfully cavalier way of accusing McClellan of woodworking plagiarism, given that he owns a furniture store and his career and reputation are on the line,” Yahr wrote.
“And the bait-and-switch ending is a disservice to viewers who invested time in the show. Really? No follow-up to what happened after such a nasty accusation? No other explanation about how or when they found out about the other (desk)? No reaction from McClellan on camera?”
Apparently, DeGeneres agreed, inviting McClellan back to explicate the controversy.
In a second blog follow-up, Yahr discovered that the other desk design was by European designer Simon Schacht, and he was unaware of the controversy until the Post showed him the photos.
Commenters also took to The Durango Herald’s website.
“Very hard for me to think he deliberately plagiarized another designer’s work on national television without thinking someone might notice,” one man wrote. “But the two pieces sure did look alike, and I’m not hearing any denials or explanations.”
“Ellen’s Design Challenge” refers to McClellan as a Durango resident, but the extent of his local connections is unclear. His furniture business, Western Heritage Furniture, is in Jerome, Arizona, near Flagstaff.
McClellan did not immediately return a voicemail message left at his cellphone number Wednesday.