In what may seem like an unlikely match, the SyFy channel enters into collectibles infotainment with Hollywood Treasure; yet given the nature of the show, it may not seem such a strange match…
Hollywood Treasure follows the activities of Joe Maddalena, the owner of Profiles in History, the world’s largest auctioneer of movie and television props and memorabilia. Since science fiction has given us some of the most iconic films, TV shows, and pop culture reference points, a show about such significant relics is rather suited to the channel. And we certainly can’t ignore that sci-fi has some of the most devoted fans and obsessive collectors!
Hollywood Treasure sure does show incredible pieces of film history — the sort of things that most of us are even afraid to dream about having. For example, on the premiere episodes last night, we saw the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from The Wizard of Oz. It sold for $200,000 — if I’m recalling correctly; it rather blew my mind!
In this way, Hollywood Treasure is rather like the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous of the collecting shows; it showcases some of the most rare keepsakes of our culture, with auction prices to match, that end up in private collections. It’s eye candy most of us will never have. Maybe never even see (outside of the show).
But that’s not the only reason the show is worth watching.
As an obsessive collector who dreams of the ability (and staff!) to find and research objects until the answers are found — or at least all options are exhausted, I enjoy watching the means and methods Maddalena and his staff use to authenticate items.
In fact, I wish a bit more time was spent showing the details of such pursuits.
The brief consolidated findings of motion picture and television historian Marc Wanamaker, who stated the suit was indeed worn by Bela Lugosi in White Zombie is authentic even though the jacket had been modified by the studio (he even got a certificate of authenticity from Warner Brothers to prove it!) left me wanting to know more.
And the steps in identifying the old carpet bag found in a Chicago basement as the one used by Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins were so fascinating that the frames seemed to fly by too quickly.
But maybe that’s the sort of hunger that’s never really satiated for the obsessive. *wink* (And I can get that sort of info from History Detectives too.)
Then too there are the moments we collectors can bond over, no matter how deep our pockets, or how rare our collectibles.
The ambiguous anxiety of Sue Palmer, the owner of the Wicked Witch’s hat, as she pondered whether or not to sell was something most of us know (even if our decision to sell doesn’t bring such big bucks). It’s that personal connection to the tangible object versus money; it’s where “Mine!” meets “Maybe it belongs somewhere else — to someone else…” We’ve all been there and wrestled with those decisions.
And my heart broke when horror collector Ron Magid had to stop the bidding on Lugosi’s suit at $95,000 and lose what he coveted… Haven’t we all had to bail on bidding or just walk away and leave what we love behind? Oh, the agony of wallet’s defeat!
But I was nodding and grinning again when Magid explained his reason for putting down his paddle: “I’d spend the rest of the life on the front porch if my wife knew I’d spent $100,000 on a suit.”
So while the collectibles shown in SyFy’s Hollywood Treasure are completely out of my reach, the fundamental aspects of collecting are here: the passion for hunting, preserving, owning, research, buying and selling exist in all levels of collecting.
However, part of the charm of shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers is the chemistry between the cast (or, if you prefer, the professionals). Since only two episodes of Hollywood Treasure have aired, it’s difficult to say if this sort of fun will emerge on thhe show. Right now, the tone is far more “business professional” which, while perhaps more appropriate for the caliber of collectibles, rather removes that sense of personality. But as I said, time will tell.
Personally, I’m looking forward to more episodes of Hollywood Treasure.
And if the beyond-my-grasp level of grand collectibles makes this show more of a guilty pleasure than an actual informative show, I can live with that.
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