Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes by Marsha Bemko (a J!-ENT Book Review)

January 8, 2010 by  

For those who love the show and wanted to know about the history of the show, its appraisers, how to get tickets, what items to bring (and not bring) and how they can find an appraiser and sell their antiques.  Enjoyable, informative and highly recommended!

TITLE: Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes

BY: Marsha Bemko

PUBLISHER: Simon and Schuster


An all-access pass to America’s first (and favorite) reality television program — boasting over ten million viewers each week — Antiques Roadshow!

If you’re a fan of PBS’s top-rated Antiques Roadshow, you’ve probably wondered — what would it take to get your family treasure on the program? What happens to the antiques after the show airs? Are the appraisers ever wrong? And will Antiques Roadshow come to my hometown?

In this four-color, fully illustrated guide to America’s favorite treasure-hunting program, Antiques Roadshow Behind the Scenes reveals inside information about the participants, the appraisers, the fans, and the antiques that make up the show, direct from the woman who makes it all happen — executive producer Marsha Bemko. Learn what it really takes to put on a Roadshow event (and why certain cities are more likely to get a visit from the show than others), who gets chosen to be on air (and what items producers are really looking for), what it takes to be an appraiser (and how even the experts make mistakes) … and what happens when things go terribly wrong (such as the occasional antique that turns out to have been stolen!). In addition, learn which books, websites, and resources your favorite appraisers recommend, and get updates on some of the most popular and notorious items ever featured on the show.

From priceless tips to the juicy family secrets hidden in dusty heirlooms, Antiques Roadshow Behind the Scenes is both an invaluable resource and a fascinating slice of Americana.

Who hasn’t watched “Antiques Roadshow”?

Each time you change the channel and there’s nothing on, when you end up on PBS and “Antiques Roadshow” is on air, you can’t help but watch the show and see the various antiques that people bring for appraisal and be shocked about how much their items are worth.

For me, part of the excitement of watching the show is just to see the priceless antiques and to know about the history of the item but then to see the faces of the people when they are told how much it’s worth.  But sometimes, you wonder how the show is produced because you see all these people wanting to get their items/antiques featured on the show and you wonder if the producers and the crew have to stay throughout the whole event and make sure everything is looked at.  Needless to say, its quite evident that there is a lot of work involved.

But with a new “Antiques Roadshow” book titled “Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes” by Marsha Bemko (the executive producer of the show), we get to learn how the show is planned and how they decide what goes on the show and the things they are looking for (specifically those that they are not looking for) and also featuring the favorite memories of various appraisers from the show as well.

“Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes” is broken down with the following chapters:

  • INTRODUCTION – With a foreword by host Mark L. Walberg, Marsha Bemko discusses how people can get on the show and why they chose to distribute the tickets for the show themselves.
  • CHAPTER 1: SUCCESS, SETBACKS & SERENDIPITY – How the show began and how it was influenced from the BBC version and how things went in the first season of the show and detailing various experiences from the first season to the present.  Including controversies with appraisers on the show such as the “watermelon sword incident” (an appraiser on the show actually staged and rehearsed a phony session which went unnoticed until 2000) and how the show has taken measures to make sure this incident would never happen again.
  • CHAPTER 2: What to Bring to Antiques Roadshow? – A chapter strictly about what to bring (and what not to bring) to “Antiques Roadshow” and how its best for people who want items to be appraised to not know little or nothing about the item.  It defeats the purpose if one has had their items appraised before and are just trying to be on the show.  Also, antique items that have been brought to the show which the producers and researchers had to validate and prove its authenticity.
  • CHAPTER 3: On the Road with Roadshow – How cities are selected and the day in the life of preparing the show for television as they reach a new city.
  • CHAPTER 4: The Hard Work Begins – After the events are over, the next step is to view the various antique items, appraisals and watching hours of footage and decide what makes the final cut and also what is edited.  And Marsha shows us various items, plus the interviews with the appraiser and the decision making process that goes through her head when deciding if it’s worth making it on the show.  Also, discussing the mastering and also problems they had on certain items (ie. a nude Marilyn Monroe photo being appraised which angered some viewers) and making sure from there on in that the episode follows the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act.
  • CHAPTER 5: Antiques Across America – Favorite antique items seen from various cities around the country.
  • CHAPTER 6: An Appraiser’s Education – For those wondering about the appraisers on the show, this chapter goes into their history and education plus interviews with the appraisers and their sharing of experiences as an appraiser.  Plus discussions of their favorite moments on the show.
  • CHAPTER 7: Missing Masterpieces – How Antique Roadshow works with the FBI and Art Los Register to help find lost treasures and airing “most wanted” stories.  The chapter also shows missing antiques and how some of them were returned to their rightful owners.  Also, missing antique items that the appraisers hope one day are found.
  • CHAPTER 8: The Final Reality – A chapter which discusses what happens to antiques shown on the show and those who made good money and advice for those who want to get their antiques appraised and sold.
  • RESOURCES: From reference books from the Roadshow Library to contacting appraisers, associates and clubs to join and more.

I really enjoyed “Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes”.  The book answered a lot of the questions I have been wondering well over a decade plus the fact that the whole book is in full color is another plus.  Marsha Bemko along with crew members and appraisers really did a wonderful job in detailing what they want to see and what they don’t want to see but also getting into topics that were controversial to the show in its earlier years, to how cities are selected and how to be on the show and of course,  information that people with antique items want to know.  There is a lot in this book and frankly, I’m quite impressed with the overall book.  It’s very well-done, well-written and enjoyable from beginning to end.

Overall, an informative book for those wanting to go on the show or to have their antiques appraised and sold, “Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes” is entertaining, informative and highly recommended!

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