The stories behind America’s most profitable TV shows

All three US shows which deal with maverick antique collectors have gone very successful. With “American Pickers” viewers having spent nearly a million hours following the exploits of star Mike Wolfe and his “ragtag…

The stories behind America's most profitable TV shows

All three US shows which deal with maverick antique collectors have gone very successful.

With “American Pickers” viewers having spent nearly a million hours following the exploits of star Mike Wolfe and his “ragtag team” of investors, Colt, Frank and Kustom Machine, Game of Thrones fans have no doubt enjoyed all manner of fancy gear displayed during the filming of the fifth series. Meanwhile, “American Restoration” TV viewers will have been able to enjoy the fortunes racked up by lead actor Teller, who first acted as property maven David “I-am-not-mad-at-you” Cooley’s housemate in 2007.

But, behind the scenes, the personal success of the four celebrity titans of collectables is less tangible. Ask Danielle Colby, 47, the married mother-of-two who is credited as an executive producer for all three shows – The Fixer-Upper’s MyFixerUpper, Worth It To Know?, and World of Tool Boxes – and she says she is, like the rest of us, just “grateful to have a job”.

“Mike’s always there, the crew are always there,” says Colby. “He’s such a warm and welcoming guy and so welcoming to the fans. I never felt like he was trying to do anything that wasn’t authentic.”

Indeed, as her best friend and co-executive producer, Colby has enjoyed a joyous working relationship with Wolfe since the two met on the first episode of the first season of The Fixer Upper (in 2008). To this day, they call each other brother and sister, and Danielle is not shy about revealing the affection she has for Mike: “We’re brother and sister to a degree. We’ve been best friends for more than 20 years.”

Is it true that her actual father – she was raised with her four brothers by her biological mother – gave up his successful plumbing business to manage the business side of Mike’s life, paying for the pair’s immense beer and wine consumption?

“We do drink a lot,” laughs Danielle. “My dad and Mike’s father met in the same year and they were very close, so my dad was just so excited to have him on board. Mike’s dad is 88 and so I don’t know how much longer he’ll live – he’s always sick, so every once in a while his kidneys start to fail and you’re thinking, ‘What’s going to happen if he doesn’t make it?'”

When the pair met, young Danielle had her nose firmly planted in her textbooks. “When I met Mike, he was doing a thing in Texas called senior revision,” she recalls. “It was very broad – we’d get great tips from experts and people that the experts knew.”

Fast forward 10 years, and Danielle’s success in making her way in the world of TV has been both ironic and rewarding: “The fact that people are now saying to me, ‘Don’t you wish you had done a show that wasn’t A, and wasn’t B, but C and D?’ I can’t even imagine how that feels.”

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