Television, movies, living vicariously through others, Disney, rare and unique finds, whiskers on kittens and cheap and feeble attempts at humor by parodying Hollywood’s most beloved classic musicals: these are a few of my favorite things. So needless to say I was thrilled when I learned that Syfy would be introducing a new series titled ‘Hollywood Treasure’ in which we followed the path of Hollywood’s treasures from unearthing to ending up on the auction house block. And when Syfy reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing the first two episodes from the 12-episode season, I would have ordinarily jumped at the chance, but what could Syfy (owned by NBC Universal incidentally) possibly offer me, someone who focuses on The Walt Disney Company? Apparently everything (but more on that later).
The series centers on Joe Maddalena, the founder and owner of Profiles in History, a prominent auction house that focuses on Hollywood memorabilia. Profiles in History was the company recently responsible for the recent ‘LOST’ auction and exhibit as well as an upcoming auction to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Back to the Future at Universal Studios (which we’ll give some more information on at a later date). Essentially Joe and his staff act on leads and previously established relationships to find the owners of desirable props and get them to agree to consign the object to be sold at auction. Not everything always works out in Joe’s favor however and fortunately the show doesn’t bury the non-successes and instead offers us the opportunity to experience collectibles we might not have had the chance to see otherwise, or even know to exist.
It’s in the first episode in fact that a lead comes in the form of one of the magic carpet bags used by Julie Andrews in the Disney classic Mary Poppins. According to the bag’s history (which isn’t as detailed in the episode), current owner Erik Rosen’s grandfather received the carpet bag as the result of a company raffle held for the film’s ad agency. Stuffed with cash as a bonus, the original winner wasn’t interested in the bag as much as the cash and gladly passed the carpet bag off to Rosen’s grandfather who gifted it to his wife. Although it was well-loved by Erik and his siblings as children, it eventually ended up packed in a cardboard box in the cellar and there it sat for decades until the family moved out of the home and the grandchildren decided to see who could get the most money for it.
Initially Maddalena is impressed by the carpet bag when he examines it and tells Rosen that he believes the bag could fetch as much as $15,000 at auction if the bag could be confirmed as authentic screen-used, but when Profiles in History has trouble substantiating Rosen’s claims, it’s up to the Profiles in History crew to further investigate into the true origins of the bag and what they ultimately discover will definitely surprise you.
Even the second episode, whose star is one of the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from MGM’s Wizard of Oz, has a touch of Disney in that it was filmed around the time of the LOST auction and features several of the props from the ABC series. Maddalena also pays a visit to the Sony Pictures Entertainment archive as well as offers appraisals to a private Batman memorabilia collector who not only collects items but built his own functional Batmobile replica solely from photographic references and a Heath Ledger as the Joker life-size figure that must be seen to be believed.
I have but one gripe about the series and it’s probably not all that surprising given the state of reality television nowadays and that is that some of the dialogue between the crew appears scripted and artificial for the sake of enhancing the viewing experience. Fortunately however it’s a rare scenario and the genuine content of the show is compelling enough to forgive it.
The first two episodes of ‘Hollywood Treasure’ premiere back-to-back tonight on Syfy at 10 pm and 10:30 pm.