The producers behind Veep and Colony celebrate Hollywood collectibles in a new podcast
The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of is about all things props, from stormtrooper helmets to fake guns
After years writing for Seinfeld, SNL and Curb Your Enthusiasm, David Mandel knows what a good screen prop is worth — both in terms of sentimental and financial value.
But when the sets came down after the final season of Veep, the sitcom's famed showrunner and executive producer left one crucial collectible behind: Selina Meyer's iconic lipstick.
He didn't realize the oversight until the tube showed up for sale at a public auction.
"I kid you not, it was the most expensive item in the auction," Mandel told CBC Radio's Day 6. "Somebody else wanted it very, very badly. And it cost me $5,000 to get my own lipstick back, basically."
Mandel shares that story and many more like it in his new podcast The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, a project he launched this week with friend and fellow prop collector Ryan Condal, co-creator of the TV series Colony and the forthcoming Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
The 12-part podcast offers a deep look at the history and lasting popularity of Hollywood prop collecting — starting with a peek at the hosts' own impressive stockpiles of memorabilia.
These days, Mandel figures the lipstick is his favourite prop. But he's gone to even greater lengths to track down other items, including calling up a private investigator to help him locate a set of rare Star Wars memorabilia posters.
"A couple of weeks later, she calls me back and basically goes, 'Here, here's his number. He's waiting for your call and he thinks it's hilarious,'" Mandel said. "So, you know ... you do crazy things to find this stuff, especially ... the pieces you have to have."
According to Condal, those sorts of tales have become less common over the last decade, as prop collecting has morphed into a mainstream hobby.
"I think it's really become harder to track down stuff from the old productions that everybody wants stuff from, because this used to be kind of a secret sort of underground hobby," he said.
"It's just getting harder and harder. That's not to say that things don't appear ... They do. They just usually come out in the form of an auction."
Auction or not, few prop collectors have the kind of set access that Mandel and Condal have.
So, is becoming a high-profile writer and director still the best way to start a prop collection?
"I would say it's not a bad idea if you can do it," Condal joked. "You know, creating the sequel to one of the biggest television shows in history is a fantastic way to start."
Written and produced by Annie Bender.