As Bracco recalled, “I said to myself, what do I have to lose? What is the downside?”
Bracco would tell you that her most ambitious achievement in life is not maintaining a 40-year-long acting career but raising her two grown daughters, Margaux and Stella.
As you may have surmised, though, she has a side that craves adventure. “I have no interest in skydiving, things like that,” she said, but she has experience in the real-estate market, seeking residences as well as investment opportunities: “I’ve always made money, and that’s been good for me.”
Bracco traces her paternal lineage back to the Sicilian capital of Palermo, though her father was born in Detroit and her parents raised their family in Westbury, N.Y. She’s still fluent in French, from the formative years she spent modeling and acting in Paris (and working as a DJ for Radio Luxembourg), but, needless to say, “this did not help me in Sicily,” she explained.
A fan of home-renovation shows and HGTV programming, Bracco was convinced her Sicilian renovation project could make for a good series for the channel. So she contacted directly Loren Ruch, an executive there, and pitched the idea.
Ruch, who is HGTV’s group senior vice president of development and production, said that Bracco’s approach “was completely not our typical way of finding a show, but it felt right.”
“If it was a celebrity that just asked us to buy them a vacation home, we would probably politely decline,” Ruch said. (HGTV said that it covered its own production costs for “My Big Italian Adventure” and compensated Bracco for appearing in the series, but that she paid the costs for the home renovation herself.)