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Tag Archive: Jon Mankuta


Most reality TV and competition shows aren’t worth watching when compared to all the great TV writing available these days.  Two weeks ago in our Spring TV Wrap-up, we discussed the best of this past season, and you’ll notice there are no reality shows listed there.  Why?  The reality TV formula got old fast as the past decade moved along, as did competition shows generally.  Sure, American Idol and Top Chef still get big viewership numbers, and we drift back for an episode of Iron Chef once in a while, but at some point even their fans will dwindle.  Let’s face it, there’s something for everyone and we won’t knock it (it’s why having several hundred channels to choose from seems to be a very “American” thing) and fans of reality shows probably aren’t also watching our sci-fi, fantasy, and other genre programming.

That said, one of the more fun reality-esque shows because if its unique subject matter is starting its second season this week: the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure, which airs on Tuesday nights.  I was impressed that they changed up the show a bit for the season two premiere, and offered a lot of content anyone can enjoy.  Three key things make the series work.  First, although Hollywood Treasure has the obligatory formula for reality shows, including the repeated scenes that straddle each commercial break and make you race for the fast forward on the remote, the plain coolness of the subject matter of the show outweighs any reality show annoyance factor.  Second, the show focuses on the guys who run Profiles in History, consistently the entertainment memorabilia auction house that pulls in the highest sales of any auction house in the world, and items they sold at auction in the past year.  These guys run into all sorts of neat props and costumes from Hollywood and occasionally an actor or show creator.  Third, the guys who run the auctions and are featured in the show, Joe Maddalena, Jon Mankuta, Brian Chanes, and Fong Sam, are actually fans of genre films and comic books as much as they are businessmen.  I’d dealt with these guys in the past and they are always great to work with.  Some of the scenes are formulaic and more than a bit contrived, but their passion and excitement for memorabilia always shines through.

The highlight of episode one of this new season, and what will certainly keep watchers coming back for more if they can keep bringing in similar guests, is a segment where actor Sean Astin discussed movie props he owns (and used to own) from Rudy, Goonies and The Lord of the Rings.  Astin always has such an aura of authenticity that you can ignore all the theatrics and just enjoy seeing this guy simply talk about making movies.  The personal items he retained from playing Samwise Gamgee are certainly treasures any LOTR fan would love to get his hands on.

Astin kept his screenused backpack and pans, his Elvin pin, his bread pouch, and leather wineskin from The Lord of the Rings films.

Other sequences in this episode were an attempt to auction one of the four original sets of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz for $2 million, which Profiles was only able to sell after the fact by direct sale, still attaining the $2 million the owner wanted as a minimum reserve price.  In this sequence Profiles also revealed that they actively solicit buyers after sales for items that don’t meet the minimum reserve price–buyers that kick themselves later for not bidding, thinking the sell price will be out of their range.  In reviewing the slippers they got to visit what seemed like a private collector’s own Fort Knox lockdown facility.  Another segment featured Joe Maddalena buying a Jim Carrey hat and cane from Batman Forever, then trying to flip them at auction for profit.  And Maddalena also visited the Dreier collection of costumes and props, which is being auctioned off over a few years.

Profiles in History is the same auction house we discussed here last year that made all sorts of records selling off the Debbie Reynolds movie costume and prop collection, including the famed Marilyn Monroe Seven Year Itch subway vent scene dress and an Audrey Hepburn My Fair Lady dress, among millions of dollars in other sales, and the Captain America auction last month.  And these are the guys we caught up with last year at Comic-Con showing the Back to the Future III DeLorean.  Their auction website is www.profilesinhistory.com.  We hope they can keep up the momentum started in their first episode of season two all season long.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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A familiar group in the original costume and prop collecting arena attended Comic-Con again this year.  We ran into Jon Mankuta and Brian Chanes from Profiles in History on the convention floor Friday.  They also create the SyFy network show Hollywood Treasure, a show I regularly watch to see both the discoveries they find, the collectors of Hollywood memorabilia (like a guy that looks like Santa Claus who has a house full of rare costumes from movies like Elf and A Christmas Story), and, of course, the costumes and props themselves. 

Jon Mankuta from the auction house and TV show eyed our Alien Nation latex heads from across the main walkway in the heart of the convention floor and had a guy in the crowd snap this shot. 

 

Jon is one of those guys that when you see him you have this feeling like you’ve known him for years.   He was having fun at the Con like every other fanboy in the crowd, checking out the booths and sporting a Lost T-shirt.  Jon actually played one of The Others in the Lost TV series and among other acting gigs he performed in sketches during the 2002-2006 years of Saturday Night Live.  It was great meeting someone working at an auction house who gets as excited seeing artifacts from movies just as much as the rest of us.  Coincidentally, later in the day Brian Chanes grabbed us in the crowd for a similar photo.  Later in the weekend we met up with Brian again (below right) and Profiles president Joe Maddalena (below left): 

Profiles is a great resource for screen-used props and costumes of every price range–Profiles is the auction house we featured in earlier posts that sold that record breaking Marilyn Monroe dress from Seven Year Itch, among other pieces in the Debbie Reynolds Collection.  I have also had the pleasure of working with Fong Sam at the auction house, a great guy who coordinates prop and costume auctions and takes phone bids on auction day. 

In past years at Comic-Con, Profiles in History had featured an advance look at props from various movies and TV series that were to be featured in upcoming auctions.  This year they linked up with Desi DosSantos from Screenused.com who has a nice collection of Back to the Future costumes and props.  His crown jewel is one of the DeLorean Time Machine cars from the series (from the third movie in the franchise).   Profiles in History and Desi worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (TEAMFOX.org) this year to take photos of convention-goers sitting in the car for a $20 donation, raising more than $11,000 for the charity.  Nice job!  And if you missed seeing the Time Machine car at Comic-Con, the San Diego Air and Space Museum will have it on display through August 13, 2011.

Strangely enough, the Profiles in History booth did not have the only Back to the Future car at Comic-Con.  On the other side of the convention center a replica Time Machine was on display (a DeLorean updated with replica movie parts under the direction of the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis), creating a sort of deja vu for the crowd.  (The replica is pictured at the top of this post).

And if you need your own Back to the Future Time Machine DeLorean, keep an eye out for the December Profiles in History auction where the real car from the Profiles booth will be auctioned, along with part 2 of the Debbie Reynolds auction.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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