Keno twins help folks find ‘Buried Trea­sure’


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 A word any­where in the ti­tle of “Buried Trea­sure,” a new four-week Fox se­ries pre­mier­ing Wed­nes­day, Aug. 24.

The se­ries, which wasn’t avail­able for pre­view, 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 (or not) 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.”

“It’s like an epic trea­sure hunt show with heart,” Leigh Keno says, “be­cause we get to go into peo­ple’s homes and change their life. When we wake up in the morn­ing and go to a shoot, we don’t re­ally know what we’re go­ing to find. We may have seen a few photos of what they have, but of­ten it’s the things in the back­ground that turn out to be the re­ally good stuff. We get to go into their homes and find the true nuggets, the real trea­sures, and change their lives. Ninety-nine per­cent of the time these peo­ple are sell­ing be­cause they re­ally, re­ally need the money.”

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. “We don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen, and I think that’s what view­ers are go­ing to love. You never know when there’s go­ing to be a re­ally emo­tional mo­ment. Some­times the ob­jects are like fam­ily mem­bers them­selves, be­cause these heir­looms have so many as­so­ci­a­tions for the own­ers. We’re the cat­a­lyst to give them choices about what they want to do.”

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.

“The truth is that any­one out there could have some­thing that is worth a lot of money, and we find it almost ev­ery time we go out on a story,” Livec­chi says.

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