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TV producers searching for 'picks' in Ozarks

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reality TV producer Randy Jack of Cherokee Village, Ark., sits among potential treasures Dec. 9 at Hardy Antiques. Jack is asking area residents to contact him to participate in his upcoming program, "A Deal U Can't Refuse."
Cherokee Village inventor Randy Jack is searching for "buried" treasure in the Ozarks -- anything from a vintage motorcar to a broken antique clarinet.

Jack and business partner Phil Contursi, a Chicago-based television producer, are on the lookout for local folks with unique antiques and collectables to feature on their upcoming reality TV show, "A Deal U Can't Refuse."

The show is modeled after the hit cable program, "American Pickers," which features the show's hosts, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they travel the United States looking for antiques to buy, or "pick."

Jack and Contursi's program will be similar to "American Pickers," but with an eco-friendly twist -- remaking old, damaged pieces into useable items.

"We're into upscaling and reclaiming," Jack said Dec. 10 from Hardy. "You can make something out of anything."

Jack cited as an example a 3-foot-long military ammunition box that could be mounted on legs and used as a handy coffee table to store magazines, drink coasters and the ever-reclusive remote control.

Another remake could be a broken musical instrument turned into a charming lamp stand with an oak base and pretty shade.

Jack recently remade a wrought iron chandelier into a hanging kitchen pot rack by grinding off the broken light fixtures. He found the old chandelier, then not much more than an old metal circle, in a Salem, Ark., resale shop.

"This is the type of thing we want," Jack said. "It also keeps junk from filling up our landfills."

Besides Jack, the duo also has a designer among its crew to repair or remake finds for the program. Viewers will be able to see the item in its rugged state and then transformed into a one-of-a-kind work of art.

Jack was at friend Randy Dunham's antique store on Hardy's main street, a four-block stretch of novelty shops, where antiques can be left out on front lawns without fear of vandalism or theft.

Dunham said the area, known for its antique shops and scenic canoeing, is ideal for filming "A Deal U Can't Refuse."

"The show will be a tremendous boost to the local economy," Dunham said.

Jack said the program will showcase the naturally beautiful Ozarks countryside as he and Contursi visit local farms, homes and long-closed businesses to uncover forgotten treasures.

"There is a little boy or girl in all of us who want to find that coin in our pocket worth thousands of dollars," Jack said. "People can live out their passion for treasure-hunting through our show."

Jack, 52, and Contursi, 50, bring a perspective that comes with experience.

"We're not in our 20s or 30s or 40s," Jack said. "We both have done a lot of things in our lives."

Combined, Jack and Contursi have appeared on TV 50-60 times. In Jack's case, he has been on many "infomercials," often explaining products he invented. Contursi, a successful entrepreneur for at least 20 years, owns Product Productions, specializing in TV production services and equipment.

The upcoming show will not be a dressed-up version of antiquing, Jack said. It will be more rustic than that, with the items hauled to Chicago and sold in a dirt-floor auction house. The program will follow the hosts through picking, remaking and selling.

Another delightful variation from existing programs is that "A Deal U Can't Refuse" will treat people fairly, Jack said.

"If we buy something for, say, $50, and it sells at auction for $5,000, you can bet we'll be kicking a check in the mail to the person we bought it from," Jack said.

The team is now inviting area residents to contact them if they have potential items to be picked for the pilot shows. The items can be anything unique, old or interesting, including cars, furniture, advertising memorabilia, military gear and motorcycles.

Contursi intends to shoot the first five or six episodes locally, and then expand nationally.

"Reality TV is so hot right now," Jack said. "People are tired of Hollywood and want to see real people doing real things. It's going to be a hit."

Those interested in participating can reach Randy Jack at 870-710-1779 or adealucantrefuse@gmail.com.

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