Hollywood Treasure -- TV Review

Proving value is in the eye of the checkbook holder.


So you have this old dusty carpetbag, played with for years by your kids, just sitting in your basement. Now you want to go to graduate school and really could use some fast cash. What was it about that bag having been in a movie once? And the movie was "Mary Poppins"? Just where did that bag go?

If that's you, you'll call Joe Maddalena of "Hollywood Treasure" because as we learn in the first episode (airing, improbably, on Syfy), that bag might be enough to pay for your master's. Maddalena is the scruffy owner of Profiles in History, a company that cherry-picks just such treasure, gets it to the auction house and into the arms of the precise obsessive collector.

There are three stages to Maddalena's gig, of increasing degrees of interest: He dashes off to whatever location might have a valuable piece (from a home in suburban Chicago to a junkyard in California), then offers instant valuation on what it could fetch. (For what it's worth, he seems to grossly underestimate the value of what he sees.) Next, he brings the item home and uses his experts to confirm provenance, and they do everything but collect DNA to do so: "CSI: Collectible." By the time it lands at the auction house, tension is at an all-time high, and watching the initial estimate get blown out of the water is astounding on many levels. Recession? What recession? I've got a spare $40,000 to blow on a fake space gun, so why not?

"Treasure" can be dismaying on multiple levels, from the amount of spare cash people have to throw around to the way it'll undoubtedly encourage the subjects of "Hoarders" that their buried garbage really is worth some cash. But mostly it's a fascinating look into an arcane area of the entertainment business, and Maddalena's charismatic enthusiasm makes this breezy journey worth taking.

An inspiring show all around, though perhaps not in the way Syfy wants it to be because the moment the credits roll, viewers will switch off the TV and start re-evaluating every single item in their basement.

Airdate: 10-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27 (Syfy)
Production: Shevick*Zupon Entertainment
Cast: Joe Maddalena, Brian Chanes, Jonathan Mankuta, Tracey McCall
Executive producers: Bruce Toms, Jerry Shevick, Mark Zupon
Co-executive producer: Steve Longo, Amy Shpall-Appel
Director of photography: James Alario

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