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Producers Finally Allow The Truth Behind History Channel’s Pawn Stars To Be Released

As one of the more realistic and engaging reality-television shows of the 2010s, Pawn Stars has rightfully became an international sensation. Following the deals and drama of Richard, Rick, Corey, and Chumlee of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, viewers were, without fail, treated to the historic and valuable relics of a time past.

The show and its customers were largely staged but the items depicted during the half-hour History Channel series were authentic. Its premise may not have been perfect but the series consistently offered quality and typically informational entertainment. That’s not to say the show was without its own drama on-and-off the screen. Read more to learn the truth about the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop cast and crew behind the camera.

Oddest Pawn Shop Item

As co-owner of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, Rick Harrison has literally come across thousands of unique and sometimes engrossing items. Every time he’s asked what the oddest piece(s) customers have brought in, Harrison always answers “Japanese Erotica.” He went on to explain that the nearly two-hundred-year-old art, “It’s all hand-painted. It’s on a scroll down to every bodily fluid. Everything’s really exaggerated. It’s sort of creepy and then after I bought it, I realized my mother comes into the pawnshop so I couldn’t display it out there.”

Everything Is Preplanned

No one wants to accept it but every interaction filmed for the 30-minute television series has been preplanned. If it wasn’t, the popularity of Pawn Stars would cease to exist. Don’t get us wrong, the items brought into the store are authentic. In fact, the store’s manager – Travis Benton – noted that the working brokers inside, “spot unique items and show them to producers who decide if they are worthy of broadcasting.”

Still, if cameras filmed the day-to-day activities of the show, very few eccentric items would be purchased or pawned on the daily. Instead, viewers would watch the chaos of dozens of fans making their way through other dozens of fans making their way through the crowded pawn shop.

Coached

Rocco Landi, a pawnbroker and security member of the shop mentioned another fascinating aspect regarding the pawn or sale. “Once an item is deemed ‘possible TV material,’ its seller is coached on how to act while on camera. Some people have a great item to sell, but they appear nervous on film. It can take several tries to get it right, depending on the person. … Producers have cut items from the show because the seller could not ‘pull it together’ on camera, but it doesn’t happen often.”

Negotiated Before The Cameras Start Rolling

In order to keep the flow of new customers and situations rolling, executive producer Brent Montgomery has declared that “really smart scripters (to) feed the characters organic information.” In other words, if it wasn’t for the hard work of these writers, the show’s stars would normally pass on the rare items that make the show what it is today. In addition, Montgomery lamented that sale prices are negotiated beforehand. He added that this practice must be exercised “to make sure that these people will actually sell the stuff at a reasonable price, otherwise they’re just trying to be on TV.”

Carefully Choreographed

We all know that Pawn Stars is actually filmed inside the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop but the faces that appear in each scene are not as authentic as you might think. It’s required that featured customers and background customers (extras) must sign legal paperwork before appearing in front of the camera. Due to Nevada’s privacy laws, production must not enable fans and customers to take pictures of other fans and customers in the shop, with or without their knowledge, even if the intent is to capture stars Rick, Corey, or Chumlee.

Chumlee’s Dark Past

Chumlee has long been considered Pawn Star’s most likable character. However, Austin “Chumlee” Russell is a bit more mature than expected. In 2016 during a police raid at his home in response to an assault investigation, Chumlee was found with several illegal items in his party room known as the “Chum Chum Room.” Several firearms not belonging to the star were found. Further, drugs were also uncovered. The “hardworking” lawyers for the show were able to dismiss a majority of the charges. Chumlee was ultimately charged for felony possession of a firearm and felony possession of a controlled substance.

Chumlee’s Dark Past Continued

However, Chum’s past offenses go back even further. In 2012, three years after the premiere of Pawn Stars, bystanders caught Chumlee and his posse in a scuffle with an unknown individual in Hollywood. Supposedly, this man asked the group for a ride, brandishing a gun when they refused. Chum then noted that his group fought the man in self-defense. It wasn’t a great look when he and his posse disappeared before the cops could arrive.

Filming Or Business But Not Both

With over a decade of “reality” television entertainment, it should come as no surprise that over 4,000 people flock to the pawnshop daily. However, production causes some unintentional harm. On one hand, filming essentially closes the store for two to five tapings a day, every day of the week. This means no sales. The double-whammy of this circumstance is that when customers and fans are once allowed back into the shop, shop manager Travis Benton mentions that only about 1-in-100 individuals actually participate in the pawning/brokering business. Everyone else has come to take photos and buy series collectibles.

The #1 Non-Gaming Tourist Attraction

In an interview with Las Vegas Now, Rick Harrison noted that the shop “competes with the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign for the number one non-gaming tourist attraction in Las Vegas.” It’s that busy. Don’t bother waiting in the typical two-to-three-hour line to catch an autograph from the series’ stars. “Occasionally one of the superstars will come out from the back (where they produce the show every working day) and sign autographs for about an hour.”

Media Exposure

Rick Harrison sees himself as media hungry. In 2001 through PBS and in 2003 through Dave Attell’s Insomniac, Harrison took great pride in publicizing the pawnshop on television. Not long after, he developed the show we know today and pitched it to HBO. However, after a ruinous pilot, the concept was passed over. Then, Leftfield Productions took a chance on the show… and we all know how that turned out. Harrison even said, “I figured that a show would mean free publicity and free publicity would mean more business… But everyone told me that no one wants to watch a show about four fat guys in a pawnshop.”

“Chumlee For President”

Even with his own name on the line, Rick isn’t afraid to share that Chumlee’s-branded merchandise at the shop is most popular. Interestingly, Chumlee wasn’t initially seen as the fourth amigo to the Harrison family-based series. In his own words, Chumlee said, “There were 10 other employees in the shop and they were looking for a fourth person to put in the show, and I thought to myself, well, I’ve known these guys my whole life. We have good camaraderie, and I’m just going to be funny and joke with them like we would normally do, and not get nervous in front of the cameras, and it kind of worked out.”

Deanna Burditt’s Ex

In 2013, Harrison married his third wife, Deanna Burditt, who had also been twice divorced. During the early days of their marriage, the newlywed couple was forced to battle Burditt’s ex, Richard Burditt, in court over alarming sex-related charges. Harrison would freely express his opinions on the Glenn Beck show. In essence, Harrison admitted the whole ordeal… “It’s the insanity of our legal system,” suggesting “[Burditt] would’ve spent more time in jail if he got a DUI.” This was in reference to Richard sexually assaulting a 16-year-old, specifically for “forcible sex abuse and third-degree felony dealing in harmful materials to a minor.”

Why Olivia Black Disappeared

Some of the tenured viewers of Pawn Stars will remember Olivia Black from the early days of the show. When nude photos from her time with Suicide Girls Dot Com began spreading online, she was effectively fired from appearing on screen. Harrison later admitted that, “I never fired her. She’s out doing her own thing now. It’s just the production company did not want her working there anymore. What she does in her personal life…is her business.”

Black’s Comeback?

In all the chaos of this very public predicament, Black returned to modeling for the website, probably due to all the newfound popularity. Some suggested that she attempted to sue to earn her spot back on the show. Her words from a Reddit AMA said otherwise. “I am still trying to show the production company that if I was fired for the SG photos, that the fans don’t care. I’d just like to have my job back. I think The [sic] fans are a lot more open then [sic] they’re given credit for.” In the end, Black never appeared on camera again, leaving the shop permanently a few months later.

The Poor David Walters

In 2014, it was reported that David Walters was the owner of a $50,000 gold coin collection. Unfortunately, his niece stole this collection and pawned it at the shop for a mere $12,375. Consequently, Walters’ collection was melted down and sold before he was able to track down the stolen collection. Normally, pawned items must remain in the pawn shop’s hands for up to 90 days before being sold, modified, or other. This Nevada rule does not apply to gold coins, sadly.

The “Gold” Standard

To help explain the actions taken by the pawnshop, shop spokeswoman Laura Herlovich went on record to explain the isolated incident.  “If the [gold] grader is not someone we trust, the [plastic] cases are cracked open and the coins are sent out to be melted down. That was the case here. I don’t know for sure, but I believe a majority were melted down. They weren’t worth what he [Walters] thought they were worth.” An all-around depressing case, if you ask us.

The Motorcyclist

Corey has come to be known as a motorcycle fanatic. However, he lives with the dangers of the sport as well. In 2011, he was a feature in the Las Vegas news for spinning out in the rain during a trip between his hometown and San Diego. Three years later, he was gathering the last remaining supplies needed for his own birthday party when a portion of his fender broke off, forcing Harrison to jump off and tumble on his own accord. Amazingly, the jump allowed Corey to still attend his party, even though he ended up with a broken hand. He sought medical treatment after his party.

Pawn Plaza Tenants Were Mad

Looking to make the most out of the pawn shop’s fame, Harrison decided to establish a “Pawn Plaza” shopping center constructed out of shipping containers next to the shop on the same property. Suspiciously, four tenants left the plaza in 2016 alone. They said that Harrison continuously increased the rent but provided no advertising promised to his tenants. Harrison responded, “I’ve had a few people moving out. One guy was getting on the news and saying it was my fault. …There is no such thing as build it and they will come. There just isn’t.”

Chumlee’s Fake Death

For some reason every year, random celebrities have their names attached to internet death hoaxes. In 2013, everyone’s favorite Chumlee was chosen. The Internet Chronicle falsely alerted the internet that Chumlee had suffered from a marijuana overdose… which isn’t even realistic. Then, a year later, eBuzzd falsely published that Chumlee had died from a heart attack. In his younger days, Chumlee was much heavier. However, by the time this hoax rolled around, Chum was altering his lifestyle for the better. In response to these false claims, Chum simply tweeted “May we live long, Rich forever.”

The Late “Old Man”

We all have Richard Harrison – “The Old Man” – to thank for the development  (and success) of the pawnshop. He along with his son Rick opened the shop in the early 1980s. Because of his knowledge, experience, and stage presence, Richard helped establish a following for the show from its earliest days. Sadly, he passed away on June 25, 2018. Rick commented about his father, “He will be tremendously missed by our family, the team at Gold & Silver Pawn, and his many fans the world over. He was my hero and I was fortunate to get a very cool ‘Old Man’ as my dad.”

Airing In 150 Countries

Pawn Stars is a hit in the states. This we know. But did you know that the show has been broadcast in 150 countries and translated into 38 languages? Harrison has said that international fans go wild when they have a chance to meet him and co-star and son Corey, stating “Everywhere in the world, people know the show,” suggesting that they are also “greeted as if they were the reunited Beatles.” He went as far as to say that the pair have “been mobbed by people in Buenos Aires, the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi.”

Wayne Jefferies and Venture IAB

In 2012, Richard, Rick, and Corey Harrison, along with Chumlee, were taken to court by their ex-manager, Wayne Jefferies. It was reported by TMZ that Jefferies was dropped by the Pawn Stars gang when they were dissatisfied with his response to A&E’s Cajun Pawn Stars, a blatant spin-off of their notable series. Further, Venture IAB – the talent agency that formerly held these stars under their umbrella, sued “for more than $5 million” because they believed the History Channel was promoting another agent and talent agency. The suit initiated by Venture IAB was later dismissed. We have no word on the Jefferies lawsuit.

Disastrous Diamonds

Rick knows a thing or two about the pawn business. He’s only been in the industry for the last 40 years or so. And yet, even experts are occasionally mistaken and taken advantage of. In 2010, Rick paid out $40,000 for diamonds to a smooth-talking criminal. Albeit, Rick didn’t know that. He believed he was purchasing elegant diamonds backed by a sales receipt. Unfortunately, mere days after the transaction, police appeared and awkwardly alerted Rick that they were stolen. Not only did Harrison have to return the diamonds to their rightful owner, but he also lost the $40,000 purchase price as well. Disappointed in the circumstance, Rick said “That was the biggest bust I ever had in the pawnshop.”

The Expensive Rolex(es)

In another 2010 episode, Corey recalled his very bad, $4,000 loss week during his early years in the shop. “When I first started working the nightshift, I didn’t have that much experience here, and being the typical 18-year-old kid, I thought I knew everything… It must have got around town pretty quick because I bought six fake Rolexes in one week.” The Old Man and Rick weren’t thrilled with Corey’s performance and attitude about the whole ordeal.

Cajun Pawn Stars

In the beginning, the History Channel effectively let the cast of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop that no spin-offs were to be created or produced. However, that didn’t necessarily hold up. Seeking to keep the flow of cash coming, the History Channel ultimately produced the “southern spin [off]” of the Las Vegas business by launching Cajun Pawn Stars to their programming lineup in 2012. The Harrisons (and Chumlee) never publicly announced their frustration with the decision.

The Friendly Experts

How is it that anytime the residents of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop need a professional third opinion, they always have a “buddy” they can call up? Well, we can all thank the producers for manufacturing that convenience. Although the late Old Man, Rick, Corey, and Chumlee may not have known these industry experts beforehand, they have eventually developed friendly working relationships with their show’s guest appearances. From antiques to automobiles and supercars to rare literary finds, the shop seems to have an expert for everything.

Sued By A Vietnam Veteran

In 2012, a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran, Daniel Callahan, sought to have his Model 96B rifle appraised at the shop. After it was alleged that Callahan became argumentative, the Vietnam vet stated that the Old Man and Rick placed him “in a chokehold, dragged him through the store, and threw him onto the sidewalk.” Callahan stated he was injured and that his walking cane and rifle were damaged during the incident. He then sued the shop and Harrisons for $20,000. Corey came forth months later that the man became “absolutely irate with a weapon in his hand.” He does confirm that the man was thrown out of the store but that the Old Man and Rick were not involved with the violent incident. No word on the outcome but we’re sure this matter was handled out of the court system.

Chumlee & Corey Have Assistants

During the beginning seasons of the show, it’s easy to believe that Corey and Chumlee were handling most of their own business, on and off the camera. However, as the show’s popularity exponentially increased, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their day-to-day tasks were then handed off. These days, they will make their grand entrances for a few scenes in every episode but the majority of their work and communications are done by their offscreen assistants.

A $20,000 Accident

Somehow, even before the first episode aired, the classic Chumlee was causing chaos through his careless and immature behavior. That’s not to say we still don’t love him. Nonetheless, a customer pawned his bass to the shop for $700, looking to retrieve it later on. Then, out of nowhere, Chumlee found a way to break the instrument. He then absent-mindedly placed the broken pieces back into its storage case. He then left it alone hoping no one would ever discover the accident. Well, the man eventually returned and it was discovered that his pawn was broken. Therefore, Rick was forced to pay out the $20,000 value back to its owner, much to his chagrin.

The 2,000-Year-Old Shekel

Even with the shop’s best intentions, stolen property will be purchased and sold without anyone noticing. A particularly exciting development occurred when a stolen 2,000-year-old Tyrian Shekel was bought by the shop. This coin is especially infamous as it would have been the exact type of currency traded to Judas when he betrayed Jesus Christ. Even as the coin was stolen, the insurance company had already paid out the policy to its owner, giving the shop the “OK” to keep the coin.

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