Just 1,750 lucky ticket holders plus one guest each—out of a whopping 15,772 applicants—will converge on the Ringling Museum’s Ca d’Zan mansion Thursday, April 12, to get face-to-face appraisals of their antiques and collectibles when Antiques Roadshow comes to Sarasota. Three episodes of the long-running PBS show to be taped at the Ca d’Zan will air sometime in 2019, along with shows shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Louisville, Kentucky; San Diego, California; and Rochester, Minnesota.
The Ca d'Zan mansion will be closed to the public that entire week, and only museum ticket holders and Antiques Roadshow ticket holders will have access to the museum grounds.
We talked with executive producer Marsha Bemko, who joined Antiques Roadshow as a senior producer in 1999, about what we can expect when Antiques Roadshow rolls into town.
“Because it has the Ca d’Zan. We’re doing everything there—we’re doing appraisals and shooting inside and outside; it’s really exciting. We’ve always shot in a convention center before, but we have a new format that you will see later this spring when we air our Newport, Rhode Island episodes; we shot it at [the Gilded Age mansion] Rosecliff. It’s still the Roadshow you know and love, but wow, it’s gorgeous.”
Walk us through it. How many appraisers are you bringing?
“We will bring about 70 experts from all over the country who cover over 20 categories: glass, jewelry, pottery, etc. We expect 3,000 people will show up that day and each of them can bring two objects. We will appraise every one of them.
“We’ll all fly in on the 10th, will spend the 11th building it, and on Thursday the first ticket holders are at 7:30 a.m. We will go until the last ticket holder has left, whatever time that is, probably 6:30, give or take, then the crew will strike the set and finish at 11 p.m. that night and we’ll fly home Friday.
“My entire staff of 18 will be there with another 40 free-lance crew members from Boston—cameramen, engineers, etc.—plus our experts. And your public television channel, WEDU, has recruited for us 110 volunteers.”
What kinds of objects do you expect to see here?
“We expect to see some fabulous circus memorabilia in Sarasota; it’s the circus capital of the nation. [But] good stuff has feet; the Bostonians bring all their things to Florida, for example. Antique experts will tell you the whole east coast is ripe for great antiques, and good objects congregate where wealth congregates.”
When will the Sarasota episodes air?
“Sometime after January; we will make those broadcast dates with PBS sometime in the fall.”
Why do you think Antiques Roadshow has had such long-lasting success?
“We’re smart reality television. You are not going to watch Antiques Roadshow and not learn something about our country and about our world. And we’re fun. You watch and celebrate with somebody who has good fortune, or you say, ‘Oh, I’m glad I’m not that person.’ You really identify with the guest. I’ve seen appraisers cry when they find something wonderful. That kind of passion… you take all of that and shake it up and that’s why people love it.”