11 Authenticated Facts About Antiques Roadshow

Appraiser Francis J. Wahlgren (R) examines a photograph inscribed by Abraham Lincoln on Antiques Roadshow.
Appraiser Francis J. Wahlgren (R) examines a photograph inscribed by Abraham Lincoln on Antiques Roadshow.
Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WBGH, © WBGH 2018

Even people who might not normally tune in to the serene programming on PBS are fans of Antiques Roadshow, the long-running (22 years and counting) series that allows people with puzzling collectibles and family heirlooms to solicit expert advice on their historical and monetary value. More than 8 million people watch the show weekly. For more on the series, including the chances of getting on air, banned clothing, and the most valuable item to ever be featured, keep reading.

1. Antiques Roadshow was inspired by a BBC show of the same name.

Before the American version of Antiques Roadshow debuted in 1997, a BBC version had been airing in the UK since 1979. In 1981, a film investor named Dan Farrell decided to buy the North American rights to the format in perpetuity. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any takers for roughly 14 years, with American television producers fearing the concept of antiquities would have too narrow an audience. Eventually, Boston PBS affiliate WGBH and producer Peter McGhee decided to work with Farrell and the BBC and adopt the format for American audiences. The first taping attracted only a few hundred people. But word soon spread. By the second show, police had to direct congested traffic.

2. The chances of appearing on Antiques Roadshow are slim.

'Antiques Roadshow' appraiser Leila Dunbar (L) evaluates a Randy Gumpert baseball uniform
Antiques Roadshow appraiser Leila Dunbar (L) examines a Randy Gumbert baseball uniform.
Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

Antiques Roadshow visits six cities per year for tapings in June, July, and August. At each event, organizers see anywhere from 6000 to 10,000 items, from upwards of 4000 people selected in a random drawing from a pool of applicants for the free tickets online. (Each ticket holder can bring two objects for review.) Of those, roughly 80 are selected for inclusion in episodes featuring that city. (As of 2019, the average was about 30 items per episode from a pool of 5000 pieces.) Items stand the best chance of getting airtime if the history of the item is intriguing, the owner’s story is captivating, and the appraiser has something to add. Unlike a lot of reality programming, there’s no group of producers deciding which content should make it to air. Appraisers typically listen to stories and then petition producers to feature the items they think would make for compelling television. If it’s merely valuable, it’s not likely to make it. The show has passed on featuring paintings worth $500,000 because the stories behind them didn’t hold any appeal.

3. Every Antiques Roadshow visitor gets a free appraisal.

Not selected for airtime? No problem. Ticket holders are still eligible for a free appraisal of their two items, regardless of whether you wind up being filmed for television.

4. Antiques Roadshow appraisers get a little time to cram for their subject.

'Antiques Roadshow' appraiser Katherine Van Dell (R) examines a watch and Art Deco star sapphire ring
Antiques Roadshow appraiser Katherine Van Dell (R) looks at a watch and Art Deco star sapphire ring.
Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

While appraisers on Antiques Roadshow know their stuff, it’s impossible to have the finer details on every object that comes their way. Once an item is selected for taping, appraisers have anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes to do some quick research and gather more information to share when it’s time to record the segment.

5. Antiques Roadshow appraisers don’t get paid.

Each taping of Antiques Roadshow uses roughly 70 appraisers across a spectrum of specialties, from fine art to pop culture. Surprisingly, none of them get paid for their work. They don’t even get to expense their travel, if any is required. Appraisers typically appear in order to bolster their profile in the antiques industry. The one perk? Free breakfast on filming days.

6. Antiques Roadshow has rules about what guests can wear.

'Antiques Roadshow' appraiser Frederick Oster (off-camera) examines a French violin circa 1875
Antiques Roadshow appraiser Frederick Oster (off-camera) discusses a French violin circa 1875 with a guest.
Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

Producers have just one hard and fast rule about people who might have an appraisal filmed for television. Their clothes cannot display any corporate or brand logos, since the series would then have to obtain clearance to display them. You might have a great old dresser, but if you’re wearing a Pepsi shirt, you’re probably out of luck.

7. Antiques Roadshow won’t appraise certain items.

Just because something is valuable doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good fit for Antiques Roadshow. Appraisers will refuse to assess motor vehicles, stamps, stock certificates, paper currency, coins, tools, fossils (sorry, dinosaur collectors), ammunition, explosives, or anything they deem hazardous. The most curious banned item? Glass fire extinguishers. Also known as glass fire grenades, the fragile objects were tossed on fires in the 19th century in the hopes the chemical inside—carbon tetrachloride (CTC) —could suppress the flames. But CTC is poisonous and shouldn’t be handled by anyone.

8. Antiques Roadshow will move furniture.

A Matthew Egerton Jr. stand from 'Antiques Roadshow' is pictured
A Matthew Egerton Jr. stand circa 1825 waits for its close-up on Antiques Roadshow.
Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

It’s easy enough to pack up a sculpture or baseball card and take it to a taping, but how do massive pieces of furniture get there? If the item is interesting enough, the show will move it for guests. Ticket holders can submit photos of their furniture to producers. If it’s chosen for the show, crew members will pick it up anywhere within a 60-mile radius of the taping and then deliver it back, all free of charge.

9. The most valuable item to ever appear on Antiques Roadshow might surprise you.

It can be difficult to assess what constitutes the most valuable item to ever appear in the 22-year history of Antiques Roadshow. Is it the value given in an appraisal, or what an item eventually sold for—if it was ever put up for sale at all? For an appraisal, the answer seems to be El Alabanil (The Laborer), a 1904 painting by artist Diego Rivera that was valued between $1.2 million to $2.2 million by appraiser Colleene Fesko in September 2018. Fesko originally appraised it at $800,000 to $1 million on the show in 2012 but updated the value to reflect the high sale prices of other works by Rivera. One painting, The Rivals, sold for $9.7 million.

10. Antiques Roadshow is changing.

'Antiques Roadshow' appraiser Gary Piattoni examines a trunk that once belonged to the Temptations
Antiques Roadshow appraiser Gary Piattoni examines a storage trunk that once belonged to the Temptations.
Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

According to executive producer Marsha Bemko, the latest seasons of Antiques Roadshow have been a marked departure from seasons past. Instead of filming in convention centers, the show has been setting up their camera at historic venues. During their 2018 season, the show visited the Ca’ d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, the onetime home of circus pioneer John Ringling. The series has also been to Churchill Downs in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby, and the Hotel del Coronado resort in San Diego. Bemko told the realityblurred.com website that while they entertain far fewer guests during these visits—tickets are limited to 2500 people—some venues are hesitant to book the show out of fear they might be disruptive or create a mess. The crew, however, is nothing but professional. Bemko said one location representative told her the FBI once set up shop there and the Antiques Roadshow crew was by far the more organized of the two.

11. Antiques Roadshow can’t get everything right.

With thousands of items to sift through annually, the appraisers of obscure items can’t have a perfect batting average. The show experienced a twinge of embarrassment in 2016 when a disfigured face on a jug was presented for review by appraiser Stephen Fletcher. Declaring it a collectible pottery product of the late 19th or early 20th century, Fletcher said it was valued at $30,000 to $50,000. It turns out that the jug—which was purchased for $300 at an estate sale—was actually an Oregon high school art project from the 1970s. A friend of the artist, Betsy Soule, alerted her to its appearance on television. Fletcher maintained it was still valuable but reduced his estimate to between $3000 and $5000.

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

16 Biting Facts About Fright Night

William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Charley Brewster is your typical teen: he’s got a doting mom, a girlfriend whom he loves, a wacky best friend … and an enigmatic vampire living next door.

For more than 30 years, Tom Holland’s critically acclaimed directorial debut has been a staple of Halloween movie marathons everywhere. To celebrate the season, we dug through the coffins of the horror classic in order to discover some things you might not have known about Fright Night.

1. Fright Night was based on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Or, in this case, "The Boy Who Cried Vampire." “I started to kick around the idea about how hilarious it would be if a horror movie fan thought that a vampire was living next door to him,” Holland told TVStoreOnline of the film’s genesis. “I thought that would be an interesting take on the whole Boy Who Cried Wolf thing. It really tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a charming idea, but I really didn't have a story for it.”

2. Peter Vincent made Fright Night click.

It wasn’t until Holland conceived of the character of Peter Vincent, the late-night horror movie host played by Roddy McDowall, that he really found the story. While discussing the idea with a department head at Columbia Pictures, Holland realized what The Boy Who Cried Vampire would do: “Of course, he's gonna go to Vincent Price!” Which is when the screenplay clicked. “The minute I had Peter Vincent, I had the story,” Holland told Dread Central. “Charley Brewster was the engine, but Peter Vincent was the heart.”

3. Peter Vincent is named after two horror icons.

Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.

4. The Peter Vincent role was intended for Vincent Price.

Roddy McDowall in Fright Night (1985)
Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

“Now the truth is that when I first went out with it, I was thinking of Vincent Price, but Vincent Price was not physically well at the time,” Holland said.

5. Roddy McDowall did not want to play the part like Vincent Price.

Once he was cast, Roddy McDowall made the decision that Peter Vincent was nothing like Vincent Price—specifically: he was a terrible actor. “My part is that of an old ham actor,” McDowall told Monster Land magazine in 1985. “I mean a dreadful actor. He had a moderate success in an isolated film here and there, but all very bad product. Basically, he played one character for eight or 10 films, for which he probably got paid next to nothing. Unlike stars of horror films who are very good actors and played lots of different roles, such as Peter Lorre and Vincent Price or Boris Karloff, this poor sonofabitch just played the same character all the time, which was awful.”

6. It took Holland just three weeks to write the Fright Night script.

And he had a helluva good time doing it, too. “I couldn’t stop writing,” Holland said in 2008, during a Fright Night reunion at Fright Fest. “I wrote it in about three weeks. And I was laughing the entire time, literally on the floor, kicking my feet in the air in hysterics. Because there’s something so intrinsically humorous in the basic concept. So it was always, along with the thrills and chills, something there that tickled your funny bone. It wasn’t broad comedy, but it’s a grin all the way through.”

7. Tom Holland directed Fright Night out of "self-defense."

By the time Fright Night came around, Holland was already a Hollywood veteran—just not as a director. He had spent the past two decades as an actor and writer and he told the crowd at Fright Fest that “this was the first film where I had sufficient credibility in Hollywood to be able to direct ... I had a film after Psycho 2 and before Fright Night called Scream For Help, which … I thought was so badly directed that [directing Fright Night] was self-defense. In self-defense, I wanted to protect the material, and that’s why I started directing with Fright Night."

8. Chris Sarandon had a number of reasons for not wanting to make Fright Night.

Chris Sarandon stars in 'Fright Night' (1985)
Chris Sarandon stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

At the Fright Night reunion, Chris Sarandon recalled his initial reaction to being approached about playing vampire Jerry Dandrige. "I was living in New York and I got the script,” he explained. “My agent said that someone was interested in the possibility of my doing the movie, and I said to myself, ‘There’s no way I can do a horror movie. I can’t do a vampire movie. I can’t do a movie with a first-time director.’ Not a first-time screenwriter, but first-time director. And I sat down and read the script, and I remember very vividly sitting at my desk, looked over at my then wife and said, ‘This is amazing. I don’t know. I have to meet this guy.’ And so, I came out to L.A. And I met with Tom [Holland] and our producer. And we just hit it off, and that was it.”

9. Jerry Dandridge is part fruit bat.

After doing some research into the history of vampires and the legends surrounding them, Sarandon decided that Jerry had some fruit bat in him, which is why he’s often seen snacking on fruit in the film. When asked about the 2011 remake with Colin Farrell, Sarandon commented on how much he appreciated that that specific tradition continued. “In this one, it's an apple, but in the original, Jerry ate all kinds of fruit because it was just sort of something I discovered by searching it—that most bats are not blood-sucking, but they're fruit bats,” Sarandon told io9. “And I thought well maybe somewhere in Jerry's genealogy, there's fruit bat in him, so that's why I did it.”

10. William Ragsdale learned he had booked the part of Charley Brewster on Halloween.

William Ragsdale had only ever appeared in one film before Fright Night (in a bit part). He had recently been considered for the role of Rocky Dennis in Mask, which “didn’t work out,” Ragsdale recalled. “But a few months later, [casting director] Jackie Burch tells me, ‘There’s this movie I’m casting. You might be really right for it.’ So, I had this 1976 Toyota Celica and I drove that through the San Joaquin valley desert for four or five trips down for auditioning. And in the last one, Stephen [Geoffreys] was there, Amanda [Bearse] was there and that’s when it happened. I had read the script and at the time I had been doing Shakespeare and Greek drama, so I read this thing and thought, ‘Well, God, this looks like a lot of fun. There’s no … iambic pentameter, there’s no rhymes. You know? Where’s the catharsis? Where’s the tragedy?’ … I ended up getting a call on Halloween that they had decided to use me, and I was delighted.”

11. Not being Anthony Michael Hall worked in Stephen Geoffreys's favor.

In a weird way, it was by not being Anthony Michael Hall that Stephen Geoffreys was cast as Evil Ed. “I actually met Jackie Burch, the casting director, by mistake in New York months before this movie was cast and she remembered me,” Geoffreys shared at Fright Fest. “My agent sent me for an audition for Weird Science. And Anthony Michael Hall was with the same agent that I was with, and she sent me by mistake. And Jackie looked at me when I walked into the office and said, ‘You’re not Anthony Michael Hall!’ and I’m like ‘No!’ But anyway, I sat down and I talked to Jackie for a half hour and she remembered me from that interview and called my agent, and my agent sent me the script while I was with Amanda [Bearse] in Palm Springs doing Fraternity Vacation, and I read it. It was awesome. The writing was incredible.”

12. Evil Ed wanted to be Charley Brewster.

Stephen Geoffreys stars in 'Fright Night' (1985).
Stephen Geoffreys stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Geoffreys loved the script for Fright Night. “I just got this really awesome feeling about it,” he said. “I read it and thought I’ve got to do this. I called my agent and said ‘I would love to audition for the part of Charley Brewster!’ [And he said] ‘No, Steve, you’re wanted for the part of Evil Ed.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me? Why? I couldn’t… What do they see in me that they think I should be this?' Well anyway, it worked out. It was awesome and I had a great time.”

13. Fright Night's original ending was much different.

The film’s original ending saw Peter Vincent transform into a vampire—while hosting “Fright Night” in front of a live television audience.

14. A ghost from Ghostbusters made a cameo in Fright Night.

Visual effects producer Richard Edlund had recently finished up work on Ghostbusters when he and his team began work on Fright Night. And the movie gave them a great reason to recycle one of the library ghosts they had created for Ghostbusters—which was deemed too scary for Ivan Reitman's PG-rated classic—and use it as a vampire bat for Fright Night.

15. Fright Night's cast and crew took it upon themselves to record some DVD commentaries.

Because the earliest DVD versions of Fright Night contained no commentary tracks, in 2008 the cast and crew partnered with Icons of Fright to record a handful of downloadable “pirate” commentary tracks about the making of the film. The tracks ended up on a limited-edition 30th anniversary Blu-ray of the film, which sold out in hours.

16. Vincent Price loved Fright Night.

Columbia Pictures

Holland had the chance to meet Vincent Price one night at a dinner party at McDowall’s. And the actor was well aware that McDowall’s character was based on him. “I was a little bit embarrassed by it,” Holland admitted. “He said it was wonderful and he thought Roddy did a wonderful job. Thank God he didn’t ask why he wasn’t cast in it.”