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TruTV shamelessly copies ‘Pawn Stars’ with ‘Hardcore Pawn’ starting Monday, August 16


Atlanta’s TruTV is truly not above copying a successful TV concept.

History Channel hit the jackpot last year when it introduced “Pawn Stars,” focused on the bickering Harrison family and its Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. The reality show quickly became the network’s biggest draw ever, regularly bringing home 5 million-plus viewers for each new episode. On July 5, it hit a network record 6.3 million. It airs on Mondays at 10 p.m.

TruTV, while steadily improving its ratings with male-oriented reality shows, is still seeking that monster hit. Welcome to “Hardcore Pawn.”

The show is focused around Detroit’s American Jewelry and Loan and the rough-and-tumble clientele in that down-and-out city. It debuts at 10 p.m. on Monday, same time as “Pawn Stars.” The “pawn”-”porn” pun is exactly the same, too.

Marc Juris, general manager at TruTV, made a valiant attempt in an interview to say this is not a copycat show at all, that they are “different shows. It’s not as extreme or bold a move as you think.”

The Detroit store is owned by the appropriately named Les Gold. His operation is enormous: 50,000 square feet, the largest in the city and much larger than the “Pawn Stars” shop. They have 45 employees and 1,000 customers a day. They do, on average, 700 loans a day and buy 20 items straight out.

Juris likes the Gold family because Gold and his two adult children Ashley and Seth provide both drama and comic relief.

“The scale is different” from “Pawn Stars,” Juris said. “And it’s more about the interplay among the people than the individual items.”

TruTV aired a couple of test episodes last December and got a good reaction. “When viewers tell us what they want to see, we oblige them,” Juris said.

The sample episode TruTV gave us (which will air first on Monday) shows that Gold’s sensibilities are a bit rougher than the Harrisons. When a customer brings a home-made cannon, Gold gleefully tests it out in the parking lot. He actually lets a horse traipse into the store, a horse his daughter Ashley (also an employee) seriously considers buying. In an interview, Les said the customer brought the horse inside for “shock value. I was just shocked the horse didn’t knock over anything or poop on the floor.”

Then there’s the stripper pole. With Ashley’s insistence, he buys it for $150 and plops it in the middle of the store.

“The customers just congregated around it,” said Les.

One more thing: don’t you dare threaten Gold. It won’t be pretty.

“Les is a tough cookie with a heart of gold,” Juris said. “He’s in a very rough business. People are always fabricating stories, trying to hustle him.”

The reason his store is so large? Michigan laws limit loan interest rates to a mere three percent per month, among the lowest in the nation. “We need to work off volume,” said Seth, Les’ son. (In Georgia? Loans are capped at 25 percent per month or 300 percent per year.)

Customers and employees don’t negotiate for long. The store also does not hire outside experts to check potential products. “We are the experts,” Les declared. “We do it fast and furious.”

The loans are set up as such: you have a $1,000 diamond ring. The pawn shop will hold it for you for up to three months and hand you, say, $300. You pay back about $330  in three months or give up the ring. More than 80 percent of customers do pay the loan back, Seth said.

Discovery Channel is taking a slightly different tact on a similar concept this fall with “Bidder Rivals,” featuring Buckhead auction shop Gallery 63.

Here are a sample of reality shows who have very similar concepts:

- “Wife Swap” on ABC debuted in 2004, same year as “Trading Spouses” on Fox. The ABC version is still on the air. “Trading Spouses” on Fox and moved to CMT.

- “Supernanny” on ABC debuted in 2005, same year as Fox’s “Nanny 911.” Again, the ABC version is still on the air on that network. “Nanny 911″ moved to CMT.

- “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” debuted in 2007 on Fox and lasted through 2009. A syndicated version starts next month. “The Singing Bee” on NBC debuted about the same time in 2007 but was moved to CMT in 2009.

- “Ace of Cakes,” focused on a fancy cake maker, on Food network debuted in 2006. In 2009, TLC started “Cake Boss,” focused on a fancy cake maker.

- “DC Cupcakes,” focused on a cupcake shop, debuted on TLC on July 16. Tomorrow, the WE Network debuts “Cupcake Girls,” focused on a cupcake shop.

-”Ghost Hunters” on SyFy Network debuted in 2004. “Paranormal State” on A&E debuted in 2007. Both are still in production.

- “Intervention” on A&E debuted in 2005. “Addicted” debuted on TLC in March this year.

-”Hoarders” on A&E debuted in 2009. “Hoarding: Buried Alive” debuted on TLC in March this year. “Confessions: Animal Hoarders” debuted earlier this month on Animal Planet.

“Hardcore Pawn,” 10 p.m. on TruTV

25 comments Add your comment


August 13th, 2010
4:22 pm

Big Deal. Has anyone noticed all of the chef-themed cooking shows to come on the air ever since Food Network became so popular and successful? If this is such a sin, then we should all say “shame on you” to Tim Allen who starred on the wildly popular show “Home Improvement” for copying Bob Villa. (Or to ABC’s “Good Morning America” for copying NBC’s “Today Show.” Just look around, the similarities are endless.)


August 13th, 2010
5:05 pm

When will someone copy Billy the Exterminator? Now that is some quality television, none of this pawn shop junk.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


August 13th, 2010
6:46 pm

Hilarious PAWN STARS parody here:

Pawns Stars: Presidential Poo!


August 14th, 2010
4:21 pm

Damn! Mathew McConahey is looking rough! Kids, stay away from pot!

Zsa Zsa

August 15th, 2010
6:14 pm

I just enjoy the Fantab view….dahling I love you, but give me Park Avenue!
Ode to ZsaZsa


August 15th, 2010
9:51 pm

Zsa Zsa, it was Eva on Park Avenue


August 16th, 2010
11:50 am

History and Discovery have gone way over board with the occupational reality based shows. How many stupid fishing and logging shows do they have now? It’s absurd at this point. TLC has already long since been destroyed by their stupid reality shows, which now seems to be dominated by their obsession with midgets. I’m concerned that History, the best channel on TV, is in danger of becoming just another trash TV channel with no redeeming value. They aren’t there yet, but they are starting to get close as the actual history/documentary related programming is becoming fewer and fewer.

Another observation, is CMT simply the dumping ground of failed crappy reality show concepts on network TV?


August 16th, 2010
2:15 pm

Do your homework Rodney Ho. Hardcore Pawn formally named “Pawn Stars” was shopped around to networks 6 months before Pawn Stars aired. The name wasn’t copyrighted and was snatched from them from one of the networks it was shopped to. So shame on the History Channel and shame on you for reporting misinformation. I have the teaser real that was shopped around to prove it.


August 16th, 2010
7:26 pm

Hey Tracey,
I’m glad you’re bringing this up. I don’t blame Rodney for the lack of investigative reporting but I am amused by how often I see this slant on the story with no basis for it but an assumption. I figure its going to come out sooner or later and I also didn’t (really) believe it until I saw the reel.
Since they’re going head to head it someone will sooner or later do the homework and ask each network for how they came up with the name – and that will be an interesting story!


August 17th, 2010
4:32 pm

This guy needs to investigate before he reports!! Bad reporting..

Loved the show. LOVED the guy named Rich. Anyone know how to get contact info?

Barack Obama

August 17th, 2010
5:10 pm

Great. Another show about sorry blacks and white trash selling their mother’s jewelery for crack and meth.


August 17th, 2010
10:48 pm
found this video online. is rich the one with the long goatee?


August 18th, 2010
2:33 am

I watched “Hardcore Pawn” for the first time tonight. I’ve got to say, I like “Pawn Stars” a lot more.

I think the shows are *very* different, mostly owing to the difference in scale. Because of how large the business is, American Jewelry and Loan seems to be all about reaching a deal as quickly as possible, and getting the client out the door. On “Pawn Stars”, they actually take the time to investigate items and find out about them. (To me, that’s what justifies it being on the History Channel.) The problem with “Hardcore Pawn” (at least, from what I’ve seen so far) is that the emphasis seems to be not on the items brought in, but on any and all chaotic situations they can bring up. I watched 2 episodes and saw their security throwing people out in both episodes (and saw the owners themselves get thrown out of a gun shop). It’s not what I’d watch that kind of show for.


August 18th, 2010
9:43 am

Not much of a story, the unlucky people trying to get a few dollars for something and getting 25% of what they want or need. . Still can’t figure out why the gun shop owner threw them out. Everyone tries to get something thrown in free.. so why was he so mad about guy asking for holster, some guns come with holsters. Something was probably said that we didn’t see. Mr Gold probably wanted a big discount for buying several guns. Just in his nature as he is always dealing and jockeying for best position.


August 18th, 2010
1:57 pm


I think the gun shop incident happened because of the cameras. It looked to me like the gun shop owner was pissed off at being put on the spot about giving Gold a discount.

I don’t know if it’s just his personality that I don’t like, but Gold seems a lot less scrupulous than the “Pawn Stars” guys. I wasn’t getting the sense that Gold was even *trying* to be fair with people he was dealing with. If you’re trying to be fair, you get an evaluation of items that you don’t know about. You don’t just pull numbers out of your ass.


August 18th, 2010
8:42 pm

If the “Hardcore Pawn” show has a lot of crazy situations, it’s most likely scripted. TruTV’s Operation Repo show is all completely scripted (although Gold may actually run a pawn shop; I don’t think the Repo gang has a real repossession business). I’m thinking TruTV should probably change its name to TrashTV.


August 19th, 2010
9:43 am

@Melissa Believe me it’s not scripted. I was there while they were taping a recent episode that hasn’t aired yet. If anything, it’s edited to be more dramatic, but it’s real. It looks like the camera crew just hung out for days at this place shooting everything that happens and taking the best stuff to air.


August 19th, 2010
5:57 pm

Same here. and its hard to fake. 700-1000 people show up every day. Lots of people saw this stuff.For the first season anyway, many people didn’t even know there was a show being taped in the area – its not like a big hollywood set. I know the difference – there are tons of movies being shot here in Michigan now. Now i suspect people will show up who want to glam up on camera now that the word is out. So that may influence what shows up in the shop, but between that and being scripted there is a big difference. Also, if it was scripted you wouldn’t have the weird plot holes too (like what happened at the gun dealer, and whats the real story about Robo the security dude and the woman with the ticket with Jewerly.) Les doesn’t seem like the guy that loses his cool easily, so she didn’t just threaten him verbally. If it was scripted you’d think they spend the time crafting a story they can run soup to nuts. if you have live real stuff, they may actually have to edit some out because its actually too crazy for reality TV and thus plot holes.


August 23rd, 2010
4:54 pm

GAY show pawn stars better


August 25th, 2010
8:44 pm

hardcore pawn is a real store but every situation that they have is scripted hardcore for tv.

Mike tv

August 26th, 2010
12:06 am

“Hardcore Pawn” WORST SHOW EVER .”Pawn Stars” way better!

Joe bloe

August 31st, 2010
1:19 am

Good show if you like the seedy parts of pawn work! Pawn Stars is 10x better as they dont need jerry springers old stuff to sell tickets.


August 31st, 2010
2:00 pm

HARDCORE PAWN SUCKS, I love Pawn Stars, and was excited for another pawn show, but this garbage was just not interesting. If I want to watch drama unfold I will watch Bad Girls Club. Hate this, hate Operation Repo, basically dont watch anything on that channel since they stopped being Court TV. Too bad they lie and call themselves TruTV when everything on there channel is fake.


September 1st, 2010
8:32 pm

these guys show the real side of pawnshop scumbags.
they are liars and thieves and after seeing 1 episode i will never watch them again !

pawn stars on the other hand is actually entertaining and funny and a pleasure to watch !