On Independence Day, Wed., July 4, National Geographic Channel and Thom Beers, the producer behind such hit reality shows as “Deadliest Catch,” “Ax Men,” “Ice Road Truckers” and “Storage Wars,” set out to find bits of American history kept in the basements, attics and closets of ordinary folks, in “America’s Lost Treasures.”
In the 10-episode series, hosts Curt Doussett (above at right) and Kinga Phillipps (below at right) traveled around the country on an “Antiques Roadshow”-type tour, looking at items people brought in to local museums, which they believed had historic significance.
But there’s a twist — in each instance, experts are called in to determine the truth or falsehood of the stories behind these objects. Then at the end, one object is chosen to join a special exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., coming in 2013. In addition, the owner of the winning artifact receives $10,000.
After participating in a reality-TV roundtable at National Geographic headquarters in the nation’s capital — in which Zap2it was a participant — Beers discussed the idea behind his latest venture.
Asked how this show fits into his big-risk-big-reward TV image, Beers (at left) quipped, “Yeah, those guys in ‘Storage Wars,’ they’re up against it, too. I once saw one of them step on a nail.
“But, this is working for National Geographic. What I was really looking for, for them, was a kind of a marquee show, what we were talking about earlier — it’s not just a television show. This is the cool part of it. It’s a vertically integrated product that you’re looking to create and develop.
“Not only are these articles chosen to go into a museum, it’s going on tour. So Geographic is taking it to this next step. This thing lives on long after a television show. So, I thought that was pretty cool.
“And, again, see, I’m a massive fan of ‘Antiques Roadshow.’ But this has not just also prizes, but forensics. There’s the science behind the show that I find interesting.”
In one instance that Beers cites, a claim was made that a flag was created in 1864. By knowing the evolution of cotton weaving, and by examining the threads, and then moving to looking at the dyes used, experts were able to determine the truth of the claim.
“That’s why I put it in museums,” said Beers, “because I wanted to use all the really talented researchers that worked in museums. They would step up to the challenge, ‘Is this authentic?’ ‘No, it’s a fake.’
“There’s inherent drama behind whether this is real or not. People were quite disappointed to realize their stuff wasn’t real, or amazingly surprised when it actually proved out to be true. Besides I love when people walk in with T-Rex femur bones. Holy sh**! It’s fascinating. These stories are awesome.”
Here’s a clip from the first episode: