Streaming service, Crackle, invites you to peek at the underbelly of the cutthroat world of high-end action houses in its first scripted drama, The Art of More. The 10-epsiode series stars Dennis Quaid (who also serves as an executive producer), Christian Cooke, Kate Bosworth and Cary Elwes. At the center of The Art of More, is Graham Connor (Cooke) — a former soldier who uses his wartime experience as a thief of antiquities to wiggle his way into the big-money, high-stakes and high-class world of art and antiquity auctioning (auctioneering? Not sure).
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The series debuts November 19 on Crackle, a streaming service that is a blend of network and streaming services in the sense that it’s free for viewers, but shows are available to stream on demand. Quaid explains Crackle is going to insert short, 10-second commercials into the show in order to pay the bills.
Cary Elwes, who plays eccentric art collector Arthur Davenport, comes from the world of art; his father and grandfather are both painters. “I’m familiar with art and auction houses; it’s a familiar world for me. It was a great thrill for me to get this show.”
Handsome Englishman Christian Cooke, who plays our blue-collar hero admits, “I know nothing about art. That’s the beauty of being an actor.” The research he did was in London auction houses and how they work.
Bosworth plays Roxanna Whitney, daughter of the CEO of one of the two warring auction houses and says, “What I find fascinating about art is it reflects the times. What is valued, how it increases, how it decreases.”
Bosworth also is thrilled by the competition between the two auction houses, and the lengths each will go to land a sale. She points to a line, “Whatever it takes.” and calls her character “a femme fatale,” a role she was looking for.
Quaid calls the ability of actors to take on producing roles within the no-holds-barred world of streaming networks, “Like the inmates taking over the asylum.” But he loves the freedom that the world away from studio and network control allows. Cooke says that he feels fortunate that the world of auction houses hasn’t been broached before (at least not in scripted TV; reality TV has had several auction-related shows) and the series producers add, “This is great gist for drama.” The Art of More isn’t just about smuggling and forgeries, it’s also about reparations and the stories in which treasures of the art world illicitly enters uptown art houses.
One of the show’s executive producers promises that the show doesn’t skirt around the fact that the antiquities trade sometimes funds terrorism. Says the show will acknowledge, “that antique vase may fund the burning-town of a town.” Episodes will explore the stories behind the coveted auction items; every object has a story behind it and sometimes the people who have an object, don’t own it.
Producer Gardner Stern says there will be an auction of the week, where they will delve into the story of a particular object, but there will be several continuing storylines that will arc across the season’s 10 episodes. “We’re looking a the dichotomy of this world, the upscale world and what’s under the rock.”
Executive producer Chuck Rose explains, “The show explores desire, an auction is unbridled desire.” It’s a room with an object at the center and people with money all want it. What does it say about you? What is the psychology behind that?” Rose promises that the series will delve into that.
Quaid on his own desires. “You see something that until 2 minutes ago, you didn’t know that you wanted it. Once you have it, the thrill is gone. That’s the thing about desire, it doesn’t fill anything.”
Cooke says, “It’s about people lusting after objects. It’s about greed.”
“You’ve got this blue-collar guy from Brooklyn within this elitist world. A fish out of water.” Dennis Quaid calls Graham Connor, “The Cary Grant [in To Catch a Thief] of this story.”
Cooke talked about his accent, which in the pilot is terrible. Says of his Brookyn-bred character’s accent, “It’s not quite Goodfellas, it’s not standard American, it’s in the middle.” It may not be Goodfellas, but sometimes I felt like I was being smashed in the head with a pan-filled with red gravy. Cooke says that he sometimes dialed up his accent when his character in specific situations, to show what an insider he is. Hopefully, the series will figure out a way to dial that back in episodes 2-10. But it’s a minor complaint, because the riveting ins and outs of the world explored in The Art of More, has me sold.