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The massive American Jewelry and Loan on Greenfield, whose 50,000 square feet of everything from watches and rings to cars, boats and things make it one of the largest pawnbrokers in the nation, is accustomed to accepting virtually anything of value. How much value they'll receive from being America's newest reality TV stars, they'll find out next week. 

Les and Seth Gold, the father-son owners of the fourth-generation Detroit family business, are the lead characters in Hardcore Pawn (get it?), which is slipping onto the truTV lineup at 11 p.m. Monday with back-to-back half-hour episodes. Most of their 45 employees may make supporting appearances as well. 

Seth, 28, says the Golds were approached in November 2008 by Richard Dominick, the cigar-sucking former executive producer of Jerry Springer and The Steve Wilkos Show who'd left both series two months earlier to begin his own production company. The family had become friends with Wilkos (you may have seen the endorsement TV commercials); Dominick became familiar with the American way while tagging along with Wilkos for an autograph signing. "He saw what we had going on here and pitched us on the idea of a pawnshop reality show," Seth says. "Last December he filmed one day of what we do and produced a demo reel."

The demo generated enough interest to tape two pilot episodes, which will air Monday. (As of now, truTV has not formally committed to picking up the series.) For the first time in the company's 40 years of operation, the brokers became the pawns. 

"It was definitely something that we needed to get used to," Seth understates. "What we do on a daily basis is kind of unique in itself, and having cameras there, you're kind of gun-shy. But after five days of shooting, you forget that they're around."

Les, the colorful 59-year-old patriarch of American Jewelry and Loan, wants the cameras to stay around for a long time. "We're actually hoping [viewers] do like what they see," he says. "I hope a lot of them tune in, to be honest with you. If you tune in on Monday, you'll see some strange things come in."

Seth explains, "The reason why we agreed to do this wasn't to become famous. It was to shed some light on what we do. Pawn shops have a negative stigma attached to them, and we opened up the door to show what we do so as to kind of take that —" "—to a legitimate, understandable level," Les concludes. Hey, they finish each other's sentences. Hardcore Pawn could be a hoot.

Can You Feel It? Not So Much:
If the old saying is true and it's tough to see a grown man cry, anyone who watched this week's two-hour premiere of the reality mini-series The Jack5ons: A Family Dynasty (episode three of six airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on A&E) had a particularly excruciating experience.

By the end of the first hour, the four remaining Jacksons – Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Tito – were openly weeping while trying to heal the 34-year-old rift caused when Jermaine left the Jackson 5 to launch a solo career. (What, they couldn't discuss it all these years unless cameras were rolling?) At the beginning of hour two, they were sobbing over the death of their beloved baby brother, Michael. The tears seemed genuine, but the context is obviously contrived. 

When Tito — whose leadership position in the act and pretentious derby collection are the show's early revelations — said his brothers sounded like the Supremes while he produced a studio track for their forthcoming LP, he may have hit on something; with all that blubbering, and the sight of Jermaine running to mama Katherine to tattle on his siblings, the Jacksons have become a girl group.

In all the razzmatazz over the golden anniversary of Motown Records, marking the 40 years since the Jackson 5 drove I-94 from Gary to Detroit and signed with the label has been largely overlooked. Jackie says they're allowing cameras into their private lives for the first time to produce the Jack5ons series and preparing a 40th anniversary album and tour because "we owe it to the fans." Really? Fans are dying to watch four wealthy, world-worn, egocentric, mewling middle-aged men try to recapture their musical youth? Can't wait.

"Ded" on Arrival:
Detroit must be the locally produced horror show capital of Earth. A new "zombie-com," The Ded Dave Show, comes alive with a Christmas special at 3 a.m. Dec. 26 on CW50 before making its regular season debut Jan. 30. The brainchild of Dave Taylor of the Detroit band Amino Acids and director Colin Duerr, the late-night comedy follows the exploits of Ded Dave, a zombie mechanic, and his swamp-thing sidekick, Bog. No campy film clips, all original material. Lunacy ensues. 

Jim McFarlin is a media critic for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]

About The Author

Jim McFarlin

Jim McFarlin, former media and entertainment critic for the Metro Times and The Detroit News, is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in People, USA Today, Black Enterprise, HOUR Detroit, and many other publications. His latest book, The Booster, about the decline and fall of U-M’s Fab Five, is...
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