A little about me (Marsha): I am the Executive Producer for ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, PBS’ most watched ongoing series. Produced at WGBH in Boston, ROADSHOW has been nominated for 17 Primetime Emmys and is about to reach another big milestone — 500 episodes! To celebrate, we made a one-of-a-kind special hour, Extraordinary Finds, airing Monday, Nov. 4 at 8/7C PM. As the EP, I oversee everything on a show that not only airs around 25 new episodes a season, but also tours the country and holds appraisal and taping events for thousands of people—plus, I get the final say on what makes it onto your tv screens. Looking forward to answering your Q’s!”
UPDATE: Marsha had to duck out for a screening! She was blown away by all the great Q's and really, really appreciated all the Roadshow love from you guys. Thanks for joining us, Reddit Roadies!
It may just be my impression, but in more recent episodes it feels like the featured items are generally "I'm related to or know a famous or historically important person, and I know this is a valuable item, just not how valuable", and there's a lot less "I'm just some person off the street and got this at a rummage sale for a buck". What are your thoughts on this, am I off-base, or has AR become such a big deal you just see more of the famous-adjacent people, or is it harder to find the "dollar at a garage sale" stuff now?
(Edit: I should just add, thank you for coming to Fargo, ND -- I'm an antique dealer and we saw a lot of people from around the US come in to the antique mall shopping after they went to Antiques Roadshow earlier that day!)
We are a reality show and there is no effort to change. We're at the mercy of what comes through the door. You'll see less pottery or porcelain, because people have gotten smarter with it. Less Victorian. Because that's what is happening in the market. But we really don't know what's coming ahead of time. We're surprised, too!
Which is more "good for TV"?: Someone finding out the family heirloom is actually not as valuable as the family has made it out to be. Or even fake? Or the random object that was picked up from a estate sale/yard sale/market/etc is worth a lot more than originally thought? I always wonder this when I watch, like, when someone receives that kind of news, do the people making the show get excited?
Yes. When people get great news, we get excited with them. It's an unbelievable moment. But I'm a TV producer, I also really enjoy it when people get totally devastated. But the problem is people don't get devastated enough. That's the evil producer in me.
How do you coach the guests who you film? Are they asked to react a certain way or say/not say certain things? Do any of them act out when they don't get the news they were hoping for?
Most guests are very gracious. We never tell them how to act. DON'T SWEAR! Rarely do they act out. They're gracious. If they're very nervous, I tell them it's just a conversation on-air. I try to get them to relax. They usually do get over it. And if they poop their pants, we have diapers! We have a great team. They get people to relax.
Do you ever get any absolute nutcases who confidently bring in absolute junk but can't be convinced otherwise? (i.e. the antiquing equivalent of the girl on American Idol whose friends supposedly all tell her she's the next Mariah)
Absolute yes. We have nut jobs at every show. My favorite nut job of all-time was the lady in Spokane who accused me of taking her ruby necklace, and replacing it with a costume ruby necklace. She was convinced. She was the Queen of nut jobs.
Avid AR fan here!
I like the new format, similar to the BBC version, of shooting at historic locations rather than convention halls. What was your favorite place to visit this upcoming season and why?
Edit to add—jewelry is my favorite. Please show more jewelry appraisals!
Hard to pick a “favorite” but I did love Bonanzaville in West Fargo. We don’t see anything like this in Boston where I’m from. But if I had to pick a place to call my own, Winterthur is my new palace.
Do you have a favorite reaction from someone who brought an item for appraisal? Not necessarily based on dollar value like the Geronimo blanket, just someone who was really overcome or blown away by what they had.
It's Fargo. We're releasing the schedule today btw! We have a guest that falls down when he hears the news. In 20 years of producing the show, I've never seen something like that. It's a first! Unprecedented.
Is it real? How much of it is staged and you invite people to come in with specific things vs just strangers off the street?
Strangers off of the street. We do move in ten pieces of furniture. We don't talk to the owner until we come on set. It is real. If the appraiser leaks info, we won't tape it. We're an honest show. You bet! We may be crazy but we're honest.
What is the strangest but most valuable item someone has brought in?
The strangest ones don't often have a lot of value. Scientific tools. Weird inventions. They don't always have a lot of value. I'm still stunned that a hot wheels car can be worth $100,000. No longer how long I produce the show, the values on some items are still jaw-dropping. In the collectibles market, it's about the values we assign. It's what the market decides. And that's something that still shocks you.
How does the staff of Antiques Roadshow feel about being featured on Frasier all those years ago? “A Czar Is Born” is my favorite episode ever!
We love it. Proud to be a part of pop culture. Not the only show we were featured in, too. We get our name dropped all the time. Modern Family. Family Guy. Jeopardy. Grandma's Boy.
Sorry if this has been asked, but...
The ratio of junk to valuable stuff must be enormous on these shows. I can only imagine the weeding out process that has to happen before you even get to the experts. Can you give us an idea of the ratio? Like "we get 1000 people showing up. 900 are turned away at the door with absolute crap (and I'm sure a decent amount of argument). 90 get to speak with an estimator, 10 get on the show."
Am I close?
Most of what we see is worth less than $500. OK, I’m being too generous. Maybe even less, a lot less. Our experts look at everything, even the junk! We’ll value it, even if the value is 50 cents.
It seems like there is a lot of potential for shady dealings in the antiques industry, where value can be so subjective. What do you do as executive producer to protect people from being taken advantage of?
The best advice is to give them good advice. If you own something of value, you should have at least three people look at it. It's like selling a house. Never talk to just one person about the value of the item. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER.
Is being an executive producer on TV a fun job?
It's the freakin' best. I'm bossy. And I get to be boss. I ultimately have creative control. There are times when we differ on opinion. Who doesn't like to do it their way? We produce everything in house and sometimes there isn't a right answer. One of the great assets AR has is how connected we are. Seriously, it's not always my way. I have to listen, but it's a beautiful place to be. It's where everybody wants to be.
Who's win in a fight between the BBC's Antique's Roadshow Team and PBS's Antique's Roadshow Team?
The American show wins for an American audience. We're a bigger country and our show is bigger. They don't have to fly - they drive. They don't have ticketed events. The scale of AR over there is just a little smaller. We're big and we're American. We're fat! We would just sit on them!
It seems like you enjoy working on a show that airs on PBS. What are the challenges of making such an amazing show given the funding challenges that can come along? Is there something that we (the general public) can do beyond donating to our favorite station?
Thank you for donating to your local public media station. Viewers like you help the show immensely. If you're in a position to connect us to a corporate sponsor, give us a shout!
I'm a fourth generation junker (part time) and I always get a huge thrill when my father or I find something while we are out.
Have you developed antiquing as a hobby or are you antiqued out by the time you get a break? I can't imagine being around all that cool stuff without getting a jonesing for it.
I like to antique. But my house is furnished. I don't have the same needs to buy as when I was younger. I just redecorated actually. I don't shop just to shop. I'm not that kind of girl.
Hey there Marsha!
My wife and I, both millennials (on the elder side of it), can’t get enough of the Roadshow! We absolutely love it and are unashamed.
Are there any plans or options we may be unaware of to watch the back catalogue of Antiques Roadshow?
I would love to see a streaming partnership at some point. I know public programming runs into some difficulties in this regard, but would love any insight from the AR “trenches.”
Our Vintage shows give you a taste of the old shows and we even update the prices for you. Our Archive has most of our appraisals from past seasons. But hey, what a great idea: all we need now is the right partner!
Without the influence of commercial sponsors, our editorial doesn’t come under pressure from external sources. We’re a trustworthy source for whatever info you seek be it antiques or current events. PBS is truly supported by Viewers Like You: you’re our sponsors and we're committed to delivering you the best. And ok, let me sneak in a plug: I did say SUPPORT by you. Yup, that’s a polite ask for money. :)
ARS has entertained me and my family for years. We appreciate you taking the helm!
What's the BIGGEST item your team has appraised, and also, the smallest?
Cheers to many more years!
We've seen a sideboard. HUGE. In the middle of the country.
Probably a little piece of jewelry or an effigy figure for smallest.
Can you tell the Keno twins apart without help?
From the rear. They have different hair. They have different bodies. And they have very different personalities. When you're TV producer, people reveal their inner secrets to you. You really get to know people. I love socializing.
Are there any interesting trends of what people bring in based on location? An easy one might be Civil War memorabilia east of the Mississippi, but I wonder if there are any trends that took some thinking to figure out.
Good stuff has "feet" which means we do see Boston-originated items in California and vice-versa. But regional items stay in their creation zones so we’d see what you expect… such as UND Pottery - more in North Dakota than elsewhere.
What is the most valuable object that ever got damaged (either by the owner or the crew)?
We don't damage! We really don't. Once we had a pot brought by a guest, and the minute the appraiser picked it up, they dropped it. We paid for the repair!
What’s your take on Pawn Stars and their expert friends they call to appraise items?
I love the show. And have a lot of respect for Rick. Read his book and it's really good. Pawn Stars serves a section of the population that needs them.
What is your favorite “I am so glad this person can in” story?
I am so glad we've worked with Peter Planes. :)
And a guest that brought in a painting and he's moved to tears when he hears more. And you can watch more about that story on January 6th.
What do you really think of Nicho Lowry?
I really like Nicho. I adore him. He's brilliant. He's so smart. He knows posters. I don't want to marry him. If you can catch him, he's a great catch. And I think he's afraid of commitment.
Not that they're not well-off, but don't you think making appraisers pay their own way to get to every location is a bit cheap of you?
It's a bit cheap of me. However, if it didn't happen like that, there wouldn't be AR. Paying those expenses would add a couple million to the budget and it would be really hard to raise a couple million more. It's not an inexpensive idea. It's also worth the ROI. And we're grateful for their support. And we couldn't do it without their expertise or their financial support.
Have you ever personally brought an item in to be appraised? What was it, and what did you learn?
I have! My husband's father's Netsuke figurine. They weren't authentic. Most of them probably aren't.
After so many years on air, what kind of items from our modern times do you hope to see show up on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW: 2180?
I'll still be here! In 2180, what is a camera? Do you have to use a device to capture images?
Do any of the appraisers buy products they've appraised or are they allowed?
It doesn't matter what it is, most people don't sell it. But, if they do, our experts might just be the best person to get you the price on that item. Don't miss Nov. 4th!
what road led you to producing? I'm currently a free-lance tv production accountant with my career goal becoming a producer
Went to college to be in television production. Every job after that was to learn it all. Soup-to-nuts. I sharpened pencils when I needed to. It was always about taking the next step. The biggest quality to have is the hunger to learn and the energy to do it. There are a lot of lazy people out there.
When you meet people and tell them your job, do they usually and immediately ask you how much their family heirloom is worth?
Are you hiring?
We are. We have three people on our Digital Team (one opening) and they do all things web and digital. Wait 'til you see what they did for the 500th show.
What's your favorite item that didn't quite make the cut for tv?
A flag that might have been on the PT-109 with JFK. Never aired. Never will.
What is the most common inappropriate for TV item that shows up?
Items related to personal hygiene. That's as far as I'm going. Nobody wants to see that stuff.
Where do you find your experts from? How do you check their credibility? I'm always blown away by the people that know so much about wooden chairs!
Most of our experts have been with the show since the beginning! We do add a few new people every year and we check them carefully ensuring their knowledge is solid, their reputations are clean and they follow good business practices.
What is your favourite thing about your role with the show? And do you find it overall fulfilling?
My very favorite part of the show is the people I work with. And we tell great stories that you won't find anywhere else.
Do you feel any kinship to or have a relationship with the the original UK version of the show?
Absolutely. We licensed the right to do it from them. And we consult with them. It's different shows in different countries but we face the same challenges.
An antiquity that is thousands of years old. Roman amphora circa 100 AD. We've also seen some BC stuff.
If you could take home one item after appraisal no questions asked, what would it be?
Do I have to pick just one? I have a list. I want diamonds, folk art, marine paintings. That's my top three.
Are there any family heirlooms in your own family that you'd want to take on the show?
I have had an appraiser in my house who has assured that there is nothing in my house that is going to change me financially.
Can I bring in my grandma on her 90th birthday for an appraisal?
She's priceless. I already know. :)
What attracted you to producing? Do you ever work on scripted content?
I love being a maker. I've always loved imagining pictures and stories. I'm a storyteller.
I do work on scripted content. Not as often as reality.
Young PA, trying to go further and higher up in the industry, do you have any tips?
Work your butt off. Don’t let anybody poop on you. Do what’s asked of you as long as your mother would approve. Work as many hours as you must, sleep if you must, eat if you must, but whatever you do, make sure your producer has eaten first!
Do you think antique dolls are indeed creepy or fine works of art? Asking for a friend #CrazyDollLady #PinkPrincess
Yes. Dolls are creepy. Thanks for the Q, Billye!
Have you seen "Grandma's Boy?" If so, what did you think of the portrayal of your show?
I approved the script. But I haven't seen the whole movie!
How many real finds are discovered relative to the number of people who show up with their antiques?
Most of what people bring is real. It's just not valuable. We see our fair share of Christmas Tree toppers that are only worth $5.
What kind of shows/movies do you like/ inspire you? I guess what in general inspired you get into film and be a producer?
Looking back, way back to my college years, it was Ernst Lubitsch who made me want to live a life telling stories with pictures and sound. Watching his film in my classroom, 'Trouble in Paradise,' made way back in 1932, was my turning point.
Any plans for adding new elements to the show? I do miss some of the old parts like Hidden Treasures and segments where appraisers would visit local attractions. The new venues are great though, they're much more interesting than convention centers.
Hidden Treasures are back, you will see them with the new season beginning Jan. 6!
Local attractions: Our ratings tell me you go get a sandwich or some other business when we air them so now we highlight fun facts from the locations. We call ‘em "Factoids" behind-the-scenes.
What kind of pizza do you like?
BBQ Chicken which some people think shouldn’t be allowed to be pizza. Going traditional, give me sausage please.
How much coffee do you usually drink in a day? Is it more on a taping day? How much coffee have you had today?
So funny. I drink my venti non-fat latte, two Splenda, no foam, no room-fill to the top, 180 degrees... every single day. But just one a day because I already spend too much a year on coffee. And I don’t want to get any crazier than I already am! 😉