Mention the word “antiques” to many people, and their eyes immediately glaze over with boredom.
That's probably one reason you won't find the word anywhere in the title of “Buried Treasure,” a new four-week Fox series premiering at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The series follows contemporary treasure hunters and collectibles experts Leigh and Leslie Keno (“Antiques Roadshow”) as they travel America to go into homes in search of hidden valuables.
Some of the stuff trotted out by homeowners is truly valuable, while some of it is, well, trash. But along the way viewers also will get some engrossing insight into what makes an object valuable as well as a moving human-interest story about the owners of each piece.
And make no mistake, some of the Americans spotlighted in this series are long overdue for some good news.
“These are real-life situations with, in many cases, people in dire need of help,” says Leslie Keno, who came up with the idea for the show with his twin, Leigh, and executive producer Tim Miller, a longtime colleague. “In some cases their house is about to be taken away from them, or they can't pay for their daughter's operation that she needs to live, or their business has burned down and they've been left with almost nothing. We go into their home and find centuries-old heirlooms that bring them over six figures, giving them a chance to get started again. It's an honor to be chosen for this.”
Sometimes, however, the object in question may hold such a powerful emotional connection for the owner that ultimately he can't bear to part with it, Leslie adds.
“Occasionally, the owner turns down an offer of a few hundred thousand dollars and just says, ‘No, I can't sell it.' It's a true reality show in that sense,” he explains. Sometimes, of course, the Kenos are forced to deliver bad news, but fortunately there's usually a silver lining even in disappointing moments like that, Leigh points out.
“That happens quite a lot, unfortunately, where the cherished object they've always been told was something great is actually a fake or a copy,” he says. “That's part of the show, but the good news is that the vase next to it, or the painting hanging behind it, or maybe the jewelry that was hidden away in that drawer is the high end of the roller coaster.”
Creator and executive producer Joe Livecchi, to whom Miller brought the idea for the show about 3½ years ago, says he is convinced the time is right for “Buried Treasure,” with the economic downturn forcing many Americans to search everywhere for extra cash to get them through a rough patch.
While Fox may seem a somewhat offbeat venue for a show such as this, Miller thinks the network offers a chance to reach a new audience for a show that is, first and foremost, entertaining.
“The guys broadened the demographic of people who watch PBS and ‘Antiques Roadshow,' but this one is going to allow them to reach an even wider audience,” he says. “We're finding young people who are collecting things, so we thought the Fox opportunity was one that hadn't really been taken advantage of.”