'Antiques Roadshow' returns with episodes filmed at Meadow Brook Hall
When PBS’ beloved “Antiques Roadshow” returns for its 23rd season on Monday, Metro Detroit viewers will see both a new format for the popular show and a familiar backdrop.
The entire new season, which includes 26 episodes, was filmed at historic locations around the country, including Rochester’s own Meadow Brook Hall.
The historic 1929 estate of auto heiress Matilda Dodge Wilson and her second husband, Alfred Wilson, will serve as the setting for the first three episodes of the new season, which begins at 8 p.m. Monday on Detroit Public Television. DPTV will celebrate the episodes on Jan. 13 with a special screening and Q & A session with “Roadshow” senior producer Sam Farrell (see box for details).
“Roadshow” Executive Producer Marsha Bemko is thrilled with how the Meadow Brook episodes turned out. She thinks viewers will be, too.
“There’s a quality of television that you can’t fake,” said Bemko, speaking by phone right before the New Year. “...What a beautiful spot. Meadow Brook was the perfect storm.”
Other episodes for the 23rd Season were filmed at Hotel del Coronado in San Diego; Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky; Ca’ d’Zan, the home of circus royalty John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota, Florida; and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Bemko said they tested out the new format of filming at historic locations at the end of the 22nd season and decided to use it for the entire 23rd season.
“This is a first,” said Bemko, who in June compared the difference between filming at a convention center to a historic setting like going from a three-ring circus to a fair. “...This is such a friendlier environment, where you come get the same information you’d get at a convention center. Ultimately we’re all here to learn what our experts know.”
“It’s a perfect environment – treasures within a treasure,” Bemko said.
In the end, 2,848 guests visited Meadow Brook with their collectibles on June 14. Of those, more than 150 appraisals were filmed in a variety of formats.
“It looks like about 150 of those were in front of a camera; around 30 ‘formal’ multi-camera appraisals, around 50 single-camera ‘over-the-shoulder’ appraisals, and around 75 quick, behind-the-scenes ‘snapshot’ appraisals,” said Roadshow” spokeswoman Hannah Auerbach. “We use around 30 appraisals in these various formats for each episode.”
Making the cut
“Roadshow” fans should be prepared for some serious finds when the new season airs. One item at Meadow Brook appraised for as much as $77,000.
Cranbrook figures prominently into the first three episodes, which isn’t surprising given its role in the design movement and its proximity to Meadow Brook Hall.
“Cranbrook comes up a lot throughout the shows,” said Bemko. “You know where you are. You have a real sense a place.”
Two brooches by famed artist and designer Harry Bertoia, who attended Cranbrook, for example, will be featured on the Jan. 14 episode. They belonged to a woman whose father worked as a landscaper at Cranbrook, said Bemko. Made circa 1938, they are valued at $20,000 to $30,000 each at auction.
“They were given to her and her sisters,” said Bemko. “She almost sold them for scrap metal at one point.”
And that’s just one appraisal. Motown also makes its way into the appraisals featured on air, including a foot locker that is believed to have belonged to the Temptations.
When it comes to deciding what appraisals make the cut in an episode, Bemko calls the process a “non-scientific, feely thing.” She says she tries to create a sense of “roundness” in each episode and include certain appraisals together, such as a two or three items of sports memorabilia or three paintings, while also covering multiple categories.
“I want each hour to feel satisfying,” said Bemko. “... We want to make something that we want to watch.”
And how well an appraisal goes also plays a role in if it makes its way on air. Bemko admits that she, like a teacher, grades the appraisals and takes note of “who’s performing.” This is television, after all.
The order of the appraisals in an episode also says something.
“I make sure that every show has an ace that hits a high point,” said Bemko. “When you see an appraisal that leads a show, you know I love it.”
Return to Detroit
\The decision to come back to the Detroit area comes five years after “Antiques Roadshow” last visited the region. Bemko said they like to spread visits to the same city at least five years apart.
“And I’ll be candid with you,” Bemko said in June. “We have a database of where to go and a lot of places said ‘Let’s see how it comes out in the other place before we let you into our mansion.’”
Meadow Brook, on the other hand, was receptive to the idea.
“When we were calling around looking, I said, ‘Call Meadow Brook.’ I was there some years ago. It was gorgeous. I was there at night. But I thought it would work. And they are friends to public television. I said ‘I think they’ll let us in.’”
And they did.
And as far as the new format, Bemko says viewers should expect it from now on.
“It’s injected a nice energy into the show,” she said in June. “It’s still the same appraisals but they’re the prettiest shows we’ve ever done.”
Appraisals to watch
Expect dozens of one-of-a-kind goodies get their turn in the spotlight when "Antiques Roadshow" returns at 8 p.m. Monday with its first three episodes filmed at Meadow Brook Hall. Here are some appraisals to keep an eye out for:
- A circa 1922 sweater and cleats that belonged to baseball player Wally Pipp. The former Detroit Tiger who later played for the Yankees is best known for being benched, making the way for Lou Gehrig to start his 2,130-game streak.
- A trunk that belonged to the Temptations.
- Danny Lyon Civil Rights posters.
- A copy of "The First Men in the Moon" signed by Neil Armstrong.
Detroit Public Television will host a special screening of “Antiques Roadshow” at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 13 that will include a Q & A with “Roadshow” Senior Producer Sam Farrell, lunch in the Christopher Wren Dining Room, followed by a self-guided walking tour of Meadow Brook Hall at 1 p.m. Tickets are $75. Go to www.dptv.org/home/ and then click on “Support” and “Events & Tickets.”