NEW YORK – Buzz-worthy reality shows are often a ticket to riches for cable networks, so why shouldn’t CNBC get in on the action?
The business network will try starting Tuesday, when it premieres “Treasure Detectives” and “The Car Chasers” in prime time.
“Treasure Detectives” features British art appraiser Curtis Dowling, who uses careful scientific methods to determine whether a piece of valuable art is real or forged.
“The Car Chasers” follows a Texas company that buys cars with intriguing histories, fixes them up and makes money on resales.
The two series represent CNBC’s latest attempt to attract an audience after the business day. CNBC primarily seeks the business audience during the day, but its business programming ends at 8 p.m.
The evening hours have often been a puzzle for CNBC executives, who notoriously saw a short-lived talk show hosted by John McEnroe in 2004 get a “0″ rating from the Nielsen company a handful of times, indicating there were fewer than 100,000 viewers.
CNBC hired Jim Ackerman, an executive behind “Love & Hip-Hop” on VH1, to build a stable of reality shows that CNBC will be able to own outright — offering the potential for a handsome profit if some break out and become hits.
Both new shows will have the whiff of familiarity. “Treasure Detectives” isn’t far removed from shows such as “American Pickers,” Antiques Roadshow” or “History Detectives.” “The Car Chasers” introduces viewers to an unusual business with colorful employees, another reality show staple. Both Dowling, the overly self-assured Brit who digs into art world secrets, and Jeff Allen, the bald, goateed owner of the Flat 12 auto shop in Lubbock, Texas, have the look of ready-made reality stars.
While television is often built on copycats, Ackerman said that isn’t the case here.
“What I think we’re doing is we’re exploring genres that people are familiar with and putting a unique CNBC spin on it,” he said.
Each show has a business appeal, too. It may not be Wall Street, but the company that Allen and partner Perry Barndt, a former Hollywood stuntman, run is based on the time-honored principle of buying low and selling high. Many of the vehicles they sell appeared on television series and in movies.
Dowling’s London-based business traces the history of valuable art objects to find out if they really are what an owner claims they are. Roughly 40 percent of objects on the art market are fake, he said.
Queen Elizabeth I at 60
For decades, this portrait of Queen Elizabeth I hung in a small garden gift shop on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Legend had it that the piece was rare – it depicted the monarch as an old woman – but some art experts disagreed.
That all changed in 2010, when East Carolina University’s conservator analyzed the portrait and dated it to 1592, when Elizabeth would have been about 60 years old.
Now the portrait is part of an exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., for its first exhibit since benefactor Ruth Coltrane Cannon donated it to the Elizabethan Gardens in the 1950s.
It is one of maybe just two large portraits that show Elizabeth as an older woman, said Anna Riehl Bertolet, author of “The Face of Queenship: Early Modern Representations of Elizabeth I. ”The other is in the Burghley House Collection in England and both paintings are attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger.
Heidi Klum joining ‘America’s Got Talent’
LOS ANGELES – Heidi Klum is adding a new show to her already busy schedule: She’s joining “America’s Got Talent” as a judge.
Klum will join returning judges Howard Stern and Howie Mandel as well as the recently announced judge Mel B. It will be the first time the show has used four judges. Former judge Sharon Osbourne left the show after last season amid a dispute with NBC.
But have no fear, the new judging job doesn’t mean Klum is giving up her role on her other long-running reality competition program, “Project Runway.” That show began its 11th season in January and she remains on board as judge and host.