TELEVISION

After seven seasons, Burn Notice turns to fans for help on a liquidation sale

 

dhanks@MiamiHerald.com

How much would a fan pay to own the spoon Jeffrey Donovan used for eating yogurt on Burn Notice? At the moment, $70, but stay tuned.

As Burn Notice nears its series finale next month, the show has begun auctioning off its props, wardrobe and set furniture, a liquidation that marks the end of one of the most successful television runs in Miami’s recent history.

Most of the furnishings went up for auction Tuesday at the show’s old studio at the Coconut Grove Convention Center. Wednesday features online bidding for items expected to be prized fan souvenirs, including the custom-made yogurt containers and spoons that Donovan’s Michael Westen kept stocked in his home fridge by the Miami River. The current top bid for those snacking relics: $70.

“From what I hear, one of the higher things to be bid on is the spoon for the yogurt,” Guy Perpignand, 30, said after taking a photo of himself behind the wheel of Westen’s signature 1973 Dodge Charger at the Grove expo center. It was actually one of three 1973 Dodge Chargers on display Tuesday, revealing the kind of duplication needed for continuity purposes as the car got shot, battered, burned and blown up throughout seven seasons of the show.

The premium on cutlery from the show, not to mention the $110 someone is willing to pay for six used Hawaiian shirts worn by Bruce Campbell’s Sam Axe, speak to the strong ratings and long life of Burn Notice. One of the most popular series on basic cable, Burn Notice often finished in the Top 10. Its premise of a laid-off (or “burned’’) spy forced to return home to Miami helped anchor USA Network’s brand of light-and-bright adventure shows -- including Psych, Royal Pains and Covert Affairs.

When the series finale airs on Sept. 12, it will be the 111th episode-- the same number of shows Miami Vice filmed in Miami during the 1980s. In fact, despite its thriving telenovela industry, and many promising starts (see: Charlie’s Angels and 8th & Ocean), Miami has spawned few successful television series outside the realm of reality TV.

When Burn Notice was renewed in 2007, it was the first English-language series filmed in Miami to win a second season since Vice wrapped in 1990. Dexter and CSI: Miami, two hit shows set in Miami, actually filmed in Los Angeles.

Tuesday’s in-person auction was expected to last all day as the J. Sugarman Auction Corp. led some 200 bidders and spectators through a plodding tour of the show’s mostly pedestrian relics. Sofas, credenzas, bar stools, ottomans, rugs, bookshelves, ceramic knick-knacks, floor lamps, table lamps, desk lamps -- each week, Westen and his crew made their way through a fictional Miami, and each stop had to be furnished.

“I find it amazing how many things they have accumulated just for one TV show,” said Eric Merz, as he and his wife, Pamela, eyed the expanse of auction goods filling the former convention center.

The two Burn Notice fans had been checking out prop machine guns tucked away in a store room, and had hoped to bid on a souvenir. There were a few visible besides the cars: two prop tombstones for Michael’s younger brother, a script by show creator Matt Nix, the Porsche driven by Westen ally Jesse Porter. But the auction was moving slowly as furniture resellers and deal-seekers competed for items that carried no hint of their stints on prime time.

“A leather couch for $125 is a very good deal,” an amazed Jackie Quintella, of Key Biscayne, said after coming out the winner of an auction that lasted less than two minutes. She later snagged a humidor for $70.

A Sugarman executive said proceeds go to the show, which is owned by Fox Television Studios. USA didn’t renew Burn Notice for an eighth season. Though ratings remain strong, production costs had gone up and Burn Notice was losing its lease at the Convention Center. State taxpayers helped subsidize the show’s profits: Burn Notice was the No. 1 recipient of Florida productive incentives, collecting millions during its seven-year run.

At noon on Wednesday, the online auction for the real souvenirs begins. Early bidding is underway, and some of the pricing certainly reflects premiums only a fan would pay.

A menu and set of coasters from the fictional Carlito’s off Biscayne Bay, where Westen led planning sessions over mojitos, can’t be had for less than $120. A Zippo lighter used by Sharon Gless’s ever-puffing Madeline Westen is also priced at $120. The “key” to Porter’s Porsche cost $40 at last check. The car itself (with the real key): $16,250. A dossier of prop papers labeled as the “original Burn Notice” issued to Westen had been bid up to $240.

“If we could scoop up dust and display it properly, we could sell it,’’ said Scott Grasso, owner of the Sugarman auction company. “It’s a memento.”

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