'Pawn Stars' creator eyeing S.A.
Will San Antonio be the setting of a future reality hit?
Brent Montgomery, who grew up in the Alamo City, and is the force behind the cable mega-hit “Pawn Stars,” would like to make that happen. “I'm always looking for great TV characters and an excuse to come home more often,” he said in a phone chat from New York. “My casting and development people know San Antonio is where I want to be.”
For now, though, the 36-year-old Wunderkind will have to be satisfied with the 15 series he already has in the works. At the top is “Pawn Stars” on History Channel. In its sixth season, the show remains the reality ratings leader of cable TV, he said. “We were neck and neck with ‘Jersey Shore' for a while, but overtook it this year.”
I understand why. This colorful half-hour set at a Vegas pawn shop run by three burly, tell-it-like-it-is generations of the Harrison family — granddad Richard, son Rick and grandson Corey — has become my latest fixation. I love their colorful insult swapping and vivid chats about collectibles brought into their shop — from vintage American currency to weapons from every era to wonderful old-timey toys. Two new episodes air back to back in the 9 p.m. hour on Mondays. This week, the guys assess the value of a Civil War artillery sword and paintings by actor Tony Curtis.
My favorite part of each transaction? What Montgomery calls “the haggle moment,” when the Harrisons argue with patrons over what a particular item is worth. “They may look like plumbers, but they're as smart as professors,” Montgomery, founder of Leftfield Pictures, said of his signature half-hour.
It also is a perfect fit during troubled economic times. “People think, ‘If I lost my job tomorrow, could I find something in my garage or backyard that would have value?'” Montgomery reasoned. “It's kind of a different type of lottery.”
The oldest of three in a military family here, Montgomery first had aspired to be a TV sportscaster. During a break from A&M University, he even interned at WOAI — then KMOL — under the guidance of sports anchor Don Harris.
He soon saw that going behind the scenes might be more practical, moved to New York and sold his first show in 2008: “The Principal's Office” on TruTV, which consisted of funny and dramatic encounters between students and principals. His former principal from Castle Hills First Baptist got a smile out of that, he said. “She told me, ‘So you were trying to do research that whole time?'”
A year later, while in Vegas for a bachelor party, he found what he calls his “game-changer.”
“My friend and I wanted to come up with a show set in Vegas and I said: ‘What about a pawn shop?'” Of course, it had to be the right shop and the right guys. They found both at The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, pitched it to History and, well, history was made.
“Pawn Stars” has spawned several spinoffs: “Counting Cars” (Tuesdays) and “American Restoration” and “Cajun Pawn Stars” (both on Wednesdays). Montgomery's Leftfield Pictures also produces “Oddities” on Science Channel and “Monster In-Laws” — families trying to cope with meddling in-laws — on A&E.
On the horizon is a new show for CMT. “Full Metal Racket” revolves around a family-run Kentucky gun range, he said. “On there, scorned lovers, for instance, will blow up their exes' furniture.” Sounds like a hit in the making.
What does Montgomery tell people who say they can't stomach reality TV of this ilk? The shows are relatively cheap to produce, he responds, so they make a nice profit and can help producers fund more ambitious scripted shows down the line. In fact, he hopes to branch into the scripted arena.
For now, he's got his ear to the ground for an S.A. project. “We're looking especially for reality shows with Hispanic stars; there's definitely an appetite for these shows that isn't being serviced.”
'Pawn Stars' creator eyeing S.A. - San Antonio Express-News
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