The big draw

Pawn­stars main­tains its

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - By LAM SENG FATT en­ter­tain­ment@thes­


IF lim­i­ta­tion is the best form of flat­tery, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of His­tory Chan­nel’s The Pawn Stars, Mary Don­ahue, must be ex­tremely flat­tered in­deed.

There are at least 19 knock-off ver­sions of Pawn Stars, said Don­ahue with much pride. “I”m hop­ing the orig­i­nal will be the best and I’m keep­ing my fin­gers crossed,” she said.

“It’s such fun, so joy­ous. It’s a beau­ti­ful blend of fam­ily busi­ness and ob­jects from all over the world,” she replied when asked about her take on why the Pawn Stars se­ries worked so well that it is now the top show on His­tory Chan­nel.

An­other fac­tor is the lo­ca­tion – a few kilo­me­tres away from the gl­itzy Las Ve­gas Strip – of the Gold & Sil­ver Pawn Shop on which the se­ries is based. “The va­ri­ety of peo­ple com­ing to Ve­gas is greater than in any other place in Amer­ica and Ve­gas is all about mak­ing deals,” she said.

The state of the Amer­i­can econ­omy is an­other fac­tor – per­haps more im­por­tant than oth­ers – since peo­ple still reel­ing from the shock of home seizures and loss of jobs want to be­lieve in a wind­fall.

“In a re­ces­sion most peo­ple want to be­lieve that they can stum­ble on some­thing that can change their lives.

“It is some­thing univer­sal ... the be­lief that some­where in the garage or the at­tic or your grand­mother’s closet there’s some­thing that can make you rich, and even if it does not make you rich, it will bring sun­shine in a dark day,” she said.

Three weeks af­ter she started work on the show she searched her en­tire house look­ing for that price­less some­thing, but un­for­tu­nately she found noth­ing of value.

Also, the alchemy of the four peo­ple in the pawn shop – The Old Man, Rick Har­ri­son, Corey Har­ri­son and Austin Rus­sell (Chum­lee) – is just funny.

“The show cap­tures the dy­nam­ics of the four. They clearly love each other, they tease each other but they work to­gether ev­ery day. They are real peo­ple.

“They make fun of Chum­lee, but ac­tu­ally he knows more about ev­ery ver­sion of video games and he knows more about Atari than Atari does about it­self.”

The va­ri­ety of ob­jects be­ing pawned also adds to the at­trac­tion of the show.

When Euro­peans left the Con­ti­nent in the early part of last cen­tury for a new life in the United States, they brought along their valu­ables and heir­looms.

That’s why there’s a rich va­ri­ety of ob­jects that end up in the pawn shop and Ve­gas be­ing what it is, the out-of-luck gam­blers would pawn things of value like their rings and watches.

In re­cent years, Ve­gas be­came a mag­net for re­tirees and the large num­ber of se­nior folks who brought along their col­lec­tions of all sorts of things.

The ex­perts who turn up to ex­am­ine the ob­jects also add to the suc­cess of the show. In fact, one ex­pert – Rick Dale – has his own spin-off show called Amer­i­can Restora­tion, which is an­other suc­cess­ful pro­gramme on His­tory Chan­nel.

To keep Pawn Stars fresh, Don­ahue said new ex­perts will be seen on show.

Don­ahue seemed to have a high re­gard for Rick.

“He’s one of the most nat­u­ral pur­vey­ors of in­for­ma­tion we have come across. He has a gen­uine in­ter­est in an­tiques and he reads about ev­ery­thing. Once we had din­ner in New York and he said he spent eight solid hours in the Met­ro­pol­i­tan (Mu­seum of Art).”

Don­ahue said Pawn Stars is al­ready a big hit in many coun­tries and they want to ex­pand to other parts of the world.

I raised the point that since Pawn Stars is based in Las Ve­gas, it would not be vi­able for some­one with some­thing valu­able from Malaysia or Sin­ga­pore to fly to Ve­gas for Rick to ap­praise it and sug­gested that His­tory Chan­nel could do a road-show by fly­ing Rick to this part of the world. “That’s an in­ter­est­ing idea. I would love it. “Rick is in­ter­ested in travel but he doesn’t have much chance to get out,” she said. n Pawn Stars Sea­son 5 airs on Mon­days at 10pm on His­tory (Astro Ch 555).

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