By Erin Place
BETHEL—Tony Bennett promises the second season of “Down East Dickering” will bring him and his crew into unchartered territory for items to dicker, or barter for, shooting in locations from one end of the state to the other.
Bennett, of Bethel, stars in the History Channel reality TV show along with his cousin Chris “Codfish” Codwell and his dog, Duke the Jack Russel terrier. They use Uncle Henry’s swap guide to wheel and deal for almost anything under the sun. The season premiere shows at 10 p.m. tonight, Wednesday and will air on the History Channel at that time for the rest of the season.
Bennett says he had a great time filming the second rendition of the show for the past five months and was finishing up shooting on Wednesday—the night the season premiere aired. They shot eight episodes this season and eight the first season, and if they’re signed on for a third, Bennett is hoping that number doubles.
He’s not sure of the order of episodes, but suspects the first one will show him and some of the other stars overcoming vehicle problems. Bennett says his truck quit right around Christmas and he wasn’t able to get it fixed until about four days before he began filming again.
The new niche Bennett and Codwell tap into this season is dickering for musical instruments. Season two features locations stretching from the Oxford Hills to York to Kittery to Eliot to Bangor to Brewer and even to Northern New Hampshire. Bennett notes they worked hard to pick these locations.
“We just ventured out a little more and we tried to do a few more things to showcase the state and sell the area,” he says. “It helps all the way around and people love the backdrops and B roll.”
Also on tap this season is an episode focusing on Maine’s famous lobster fishing industry, when Bennett and his crew go fishing with a family and come back to enjoy a big cook out after their work is done.
“It’s something everyone can be familiar and relate to,” Bennett says about family cookouts.
Bennett also got to work with Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, stars of the History Channel’s “American Pickers.” The stars and film crews met up in Skowhegan to do some dickering and picking for the day and ate dinner together, with footage used in both shows for their new seasons.
Those residing in Western Maine can look forward to a little taste of home when the episode airs on the birthday bash for Bennett, Codwell and Duke, held at the Oxford Plains Speedway in September. Bennett says they learned a lot from hosting the event and will make it even better next year. But one his favorite parts of the day was the car, motorcycle and snowmobile show.
“It was such an array from the rat rat rat rods to the spit shines you could eat off of and everything in between,” Bennett says. “The yard sale and the swap shop—people came out of the wood work and I really impressed with some of the stuff. It wasn’t a bunch of Avon bottles and Beanie Babies.”
As far as his film crew is concerned, Bennett says he had some issues last season switching between two crews, one week on, one week off.
“I didn’t like that. I was freakin’ irritated. [With] two different teams, you have to learn each others’ routines,” he says.
That’s when Bennett says he called his boss in Hollywood and told him he wanted one specific crew full-time, especially since the other wasn’t as productive. He also demanded he keep Dan, his producer, and Allen, one of his film crew. Bennett got his wish and now his trio and the crew of seven are friends, hanging out and having dinner even on days they’re not shooting.
He says he’s been pushing for winter footage since the get go and they’ll be back filming in Maine on Dec. 8, even if all the winter activities that come with the area—ice fishing, snowmobiling and the like—won’t be in full swing yet. Dickering slows down in the winter so it’s time to have fun.
“It’s a lot of hell raising and play time and antler hunting. I don’t sell too many, it’s also my therapy,” Bennett says.
He does look forward to scooping deals that normally wouldn’t be as good because the item is out of season. Twenty minutes before calling the Advertiser, Bennett was on the phone with Destination Rvs Rentals & Sales out of Casco, agreeing to take two campers and a whole bunch of iron, aluminum and other metal, since the business had to move in a month.
“My good fortune of the whole deal is his misfortune,” Bennett says, adding he’s now made a new connection. “It’s my bread and butter as well. It doesn’t always happen but if I find a good deal like that, I’ll take it.”