At a time when everyone's dollar is stretched as far as it will go, wouldn't it be great to realize that that old bureau you inherited from a grandparent could actually wipe you clear of debt? Or something that's been taking up space in your kitchen cabinet could actually pay for college for your kids? That's the sentiment behind the new FOX series "Buried Treasure," which premieres tonight with the first of four episodes.
Leading the charge to finding the treasure in people's homes are identical twin brothers Leigh and Leslie Keno, who are self-proclaimed modern day treasure hunters and have helped people sell over $1 billion in collectibles. Coming from a family that's business was antiques, the Keno brothers, who are best known for appearing as appraisers on the popular PBS series, "Antique Roadshow," will not only be helping people find hidden gems in their homes but viewers will also hear the personal stories of the participants, some of which are sure to pull at a heartstring or two.
Our Jim Halterman chatted with the Kenos as they drove along the California coast on their way to attend last weekend's Pebble Beach Concourse d'Elegance, the annual automotive charitable event where Leigh serves as a judge. The brothers talked about shaping the show, the great emotional stories that unfold every week and since they are twins who work together in a very competitive and lucrative field, just how competitive they are with each other.
Jim Halterman: What is the genesis of 'Buried Treasure' and your involvement in it?
Leslie Keno: Tim Miller is one of the producers with Leigh and I and we have been talking about this show for about three years and the idea of doing a television show about treasure hunting. We actually have been approached by several networks but we wanted to make sure to find the right fit and we feel very honored and privileged to be with the FOX network. They're such an incredible network and with such a wide reach so we're happy to be with such a great team.
Jim: There seems to be a bit of destiny in the two of you being in this line of work since your parents were in the antique business, right?
Leigh Keno: Leslie and I grew up in the business so we were going to antique shows, flea markets and treasure hunts since we were inside of our Mom - before we were born - and when we were 12 we had our business and we paid for college with the money from that business. Everything that we've done before this kind of led itself to this point. This is our everyday life. It's a true reality show because we are treasure hunters. We get up every day and look for whatever treasures are out there. We'll jump on a plane, get in a boat, whatever it is to go get treasures. It's everyday life for us.
Jim: Do you think the art of appraising is something that people can learn or is there a natural knack you have to have?
Leslie: Not a day goes by where we don't work so we are learning all the time and we hope to share with others and maybe teach others what we have learned and share the stories of these owners and their objects. A lot of this is about the stories being uncovered during the process and meeting the family, seeing the objects and we do hope to share with others how to evaluate a piece based on quality, rarity, condition... it's a teaching show with a lot of history and, at the same time, Leigh and I are just having a blast and we're learning something every day.
Jim: Were you guys expecting that emotional component when you started filming? From what I saw of the show so far, I was ready to run for the tissues!
Leigh: The most exciting part of the show is that the emotional aspect of whether or not the owners decide to take the cash or go the auction route and there's a lot of drama. The whole show is like a roller coaster ride.
Leslie: When we're there with an owner and they're in some dire circumstance and they're looking up to us for us to basically rescue them... I mean, we're looking in their eyes so this is a very powerful experience. We do get emotional and this is real and it's not scripted TV. It's really about changing a life situation so there's nothing better than that for us. It's a very rewarding show for us. When you feel that you've really helped change someone's life or have helped them out of a bad situation, what's better than that?
Jim: Besides perhaps teaching viewers a thing or two about appraising their own items, the relatability element of the show is huge. You guys really do go everywhere in the country, don't you?
Leigh: This show is perfect timing for America especially in these economic times that we're in. You never know where we're going to be next. We could be in Georgia or in the middle of a high-rise in New York City. There's such a range of demographics on the show and there are also people of all ages. You're hoping to change people's lives.
Leslie: That and the sale of that item could be someone's future education and college and change the stability of the whole family. You might find that that Chinese six-figure bowl is going to be their future college tuition. It's very touching.
Jim: Since you guys are brothers, is there competitiveness with the two of you or is it a very equal partnership?
Leigh: There's no question. I cannot remember a time when I've met a pair of twins who weren't competitive in some way. I think it's just the way our genes are set up in the gene pool. I don't know what all the reasons are but the answer is yes, sure we are.
Leslie: Sometimes we'll have fun and see who can find the best piece in a house and we'll have a game like that. But that went all the way back to school. If one us got an A and the other got an A+, you know what, that A just didn't cut it!
"Buried Treasure" premieres tonight at 8:00/7:00c on FOX.