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Syfy's Hollywood Treasure a nook for schnooks who collect (including Uncle B)

Premiering: Wednesday, Oct. 27th at 9 p.m. (central) on Syfy with back-to-back half-hour episodes
Starring: Joe Maddalena, Brian Chanes, Jon Mankuta, Tracey McCall
Produced by: Jerry Shevick, Mark Zupon, Bruce Toms

Everything -- and everyone -- has its price. But who would cough up $70 grand for a Lost In Space laser rifle?

That's the only final auction bid I'll reveal in the interest of encouraging viewers who might have a Pez dispenser once used as a kid by Jerry Van Dyke. There's always a buyer out there somewhere.

Syfy's passably informative and entertaining Hollywood Treasure launches Wednesday with two half-hour episodes opposite Game 1 of the World Series. It's worth recording if you're a fan of Antiques Roadshow or The Price Is Right -- or have a prop from Nurse Betty.

The show's leading man is Joe Maddalena, a rather excitable sort who owns a Hollywood auction house called Profiles In History. Joe's "never-ending quest" is to hunt down collectibles and sell them for big money. He's always thrilled to get good prices for the previous owners, but never says what his cut is. Side note: Joe's company conducted the recent auction of Lost memorabilia.

In Wednesday's second episode, Joe braves a flight to Toledo, Ohio, where a misty-eyed collector named Sue Palmer has owned the wicked witch's hat from The Wizard of Oz since paying $30 grand for it 21 years ago.

"Owning that piece has been like owning a piece of history," she deduces. Joe's all smiles but his heart is pounding like a construction site jackhammer. If he can persuade her to part with it, his upcoming auction will have its crown jewel.

Each half-hour begins with a "10 Days Until Auction" countdown and climaxes with a few minutes from the auction itself. It's Joe and his team's responsibility to gather enough enticing goodies to make bidders go nuts. They're initially on the trail of a possible shark from Jaws that now resides at the U-Pick Parts junkyard. But their biggest prey is a carpet handbag whose Chicago owners say was used by Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.

Even at a half-hour, the episodes are padded. Commercial breaks apparently are deemed too long for viewers to remember what happened just a few minutes earlier. So Hollywood Treasure needlessly repeats some of the scenes and dialogue.

There are plusses, too. It's interesting to watch the authentication of a coat supposedly worn by Bela Lugosi in White Zombie. There's also a visit to the home of Joe's friend, Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island. She's saved a lot of stuff, including a pair of her short shorts, a checked dress, a coconut prop and some scripts signed by the whole cast. Joe salivates, but encourages Dawn to wait a bit to capitalize on the "sizzle" of a planned 2011Gilligan's Island feature film that supposedly will star the likes of Zach Braff, Jack Black and Emma Watson as Mary Ann.

Syfy publicity materials say that items up for bid in future episodes will include a miniature biplane from the original King Kong movie and the bottle from which Barbara Eden emerged on I Dream of Jeannie.

Eden, who owns this artifact, plays hard to get and is unseen in the first two episodes of Hollywood Treasure. But she apparently will be playing along at some point.

Meanwhile, check out your garage or attic to see if you might have a mint condition copy of William Shatner's The Transformed Man LP or some teeth kicked in by Chuck Norris on Walker, Texas Ranger. Whatever they're worth, someone will pay it.


PROGRAMMING NOTE: Viewers who subscribe to DirecTV can see the fifth and final season premiere of Austin-made Friday Night Lights before it eventually makes its way to NBC in late spring or early summer.

FNL relaunches on Wednesday, Oct. 27th at 8 p.m. (central) with an episode titled "Expectations." Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton return as the series' bulwarks, Coach Eric Taylor and his wife, Tami Taylor. Both received overdue Emmy nominations for their work in Season 4.