Think of "VH1 Collectors" as "Antiques Roadshow" with a rock and roll beat.
Saturdays at noon beginning this week, VH1 will offer the chance to have your rock collectibles appraised, show off your collection to the envious masses and listen as celebrities describe what they collect. You may even be able to pick up a few items yourself.
Already, the roving band of VH1 appraisers has visited Cleveland, Miami, Las Vegas and Austin, Tex., and they've turned up such items as an outfit worn on stage by the O'Jays (the thing practically screams '70s), a signed contract by Jimi Hendrix and the other members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience (reportedly found in a London trash bin), a manuscript from Bob Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde" recording sessions and all sorts of Elvis memorabilia.
The collectors all have stories to tell about how they came into possession of such rockin' trinkets, and there's frequently a twinkle in their eyes when the appraiser starts talking big bucks.
Still, insists Executive Producer Bill Brand, "Most of the people that we meet are people that just have a passion for the music. They want to share their story more than they want to find out what it's worth."
Tune in to Saturday's debut, and besides the proud collectors, you'll also get to hear Mariah Carey explain why she was willing to spend $600,000 for Marilyn Monroe's grand piano and watch as Eric Clapton's guitar, the one he used to record "Layla," goes on the auction block.
One key difference between "VH1 Collectors" and PBS's "Antiques Roadshow," Brand explains, is that VH1 is offering people the chance to sell their items once they've been appraised, on the VH1.com Web site. Celebrities have also offered items to be sold, with the money going to charity. So far, the list includes a pair of Carey's jeans, a black dress from Jennifer Lopez and a signed guitar from Sting. The auctions start Saturday at noon.
"We think the show really fits into VH1's programming schedule," Brand says. "It's fast-paced, and it's a little more youth-oriented than some collectibles shows."
Filming at Hopkins
Tentatively titled "24/7," the series will be assembled to show viewers "what goes on inside a big-city hospital," said ABC News spokeswoman Eileen Murphy.
The powers-that-be at Hopkins have given the ABC crew pretty much a free pass to roam the halls of the hospital, according to a memo circulated when filming began. Individual patients, however, will be able to decide whether they will appear on-camera.
The film crew is scheduled to finish next month, says Hopkins spokeswoman Joann Rodgers.
"We have been impressed with the very positive response from our faculty and our employees at Hopkins, and from hundreds of visitors and family members of patients," says Rodgers, adding of the ABC crew, "They are real pros. We've been very, very impressed with their professionalism."
Black drama winner
Derrell G. Owens' "The Family Mantle," a drama of three successful brothers who return home to settle affairs and some old scores, is the winner of the 1999 Black History Month Drama Competition sponsored by WMAR, Channel 2, and the Arena Players.
Auditions for the play, which will be staged by the Arena Players for a February broadcast on WMAR, are set for 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 30 and 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4. The play requires three men between ages 30 and 45 and one older than 55. For more information, telephone 410-728-6500.
Bright picture ahead
If you think your TV picture's improved over the past few days, you're probably right.
Work on the candelabra tower atop Television Hill, where new antennae are being installed to handle the next millennium's digital television signals, is almost complete. Last week, the new, larger antennae were activated, increasing the signal used to send the city's three VHF stations -- WMAR, Channel 2; WBAL, Channel 11; and WJZ, Channel 13 -- into Baltimore homes. Homes in outlying areas, which may have seen a reduction in picture quality when work began in July, should see things returning to normal.
Cable TV reception was not affected.
Work on the tower took longer than originally anticipated, in part because of a September accident that damaged the crane positioning the new antennae and left one of them listing precariously off-center as work crews scrambled to steady it.