| Special to The Detroit News
Some 7 million people tune in weekly to PBS’s popular “Antiques Roadshow,” according to producer Marsha Bemko, for a show that has been described as “part adventure, part history lesson, part treasure hunt.” The ongoing pandemic, however, has made the hit show’s regular touring format and schedule difficult, prompting them to create a new idea, one that “could be satisfactorily accomplished, yet still meet our goal of teaching history with material culture as a vehicle and to have so much fun you don’t realize how smart you’re getting,” Bemko says.
“The idea is this,’ she explained during a recent virtual press event. “We offer celebrities, people you know, names you recognize, the chance to learn more” about their items. Filmed during the pandemic with safety measures in place, the results will air for three hours in May and feature a variety of well-known guests, including musician Ruben Blades, television personality Carson Kressley, journalist Soledad O’Brien, comedian Jay Leno, author Gbenga Akinnagbe, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, children’s author Jason Reynolds, and more. If you’ve ever wondered what celebrities collect and what their houses look like, now’s your chance to find out.
“I am such a huge fan of ‘Antiques Roadshow,”’ Kressley, who calls himself “a super fan” explained during the event, adding he was “that weird kid who would get birthday money and be like, ‘can we please go to the antique mall,’” not to the movies or baseball game. His segment explores vintage horse-related items at his farm, including one with a connection to Jackie Kennedy.
Bemko says the change, while challenging, has resulted in some good television. “The magic of ‘Antiques Roadshow’ goes to work in this celebrity format, resulting in some of my favorite episodes of ‘Roadshow] ever,” she adds. “Along with discovering history through items, we get the added bonus of learning about notable people we’re intrigued by through their own personal stories.”
Author Jason Reynolds said being on the show “was a dream come true.” Kressley summed it up in a different way: “It was much easier than ‘Dancing With the Stars,’” he quipped.
The celebrity episodes were filmed using small production teams following COVID protocols during late 2020 and early 2021. Each episode’s celebrity guests will be revealed closer to the broadcast date, with the special episodes airing May 3, 10 and 17. Mark your calendars.
Calling All Collectors: While we can’t offer a spot on “Antiques Roadshow,” we love to hear about what our readers collect and why. As part of our ongoing Collectors Spotlight feature, we are seeking people with interesting collections to feature in our pages. If you’re interested, send a few photos of you with items in your collection with a paragraph explaining what appeals to you about it and how you got started. If chosen, we will be in touch for more information. We are also actively seeking items for our upcoming appraisal sessions to be held in the spring. If interested in either opportunity, email the column at email@example.com.
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