Independent Studio AMPLE Bets on the Authenticity of Uncertainty With ‘Cooper’s Treasure’ for Discovery

Cooper's Treasure Discovery
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The poorly kept secret of unscripted TV is that it is, in general, rather scripted. Ari Mark and Phil Lott, co-founders of production company AMPLE, are looking to affix that “un-” back where it belongs.

“Our generation, you’re at a point where you want to believe in things,” Mark tells Variety. “Everything in your life is fake, and especially in our genre.”

AMPLE has several shows in the works and on the air, like “Cold Case Files” for A&E and “Hacking the Wild” for Discovery sibling Science Channel, but “Cooper’s Treasure,” a co-production with Amblin TV for Discovery that premieres April 18, is perhaps their most ambitious project.

See, “Cooper’s Treasure” follows treasure hunter Darrell Miklos in his attempt to follow clues to possible hauls seen from space by Original 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper. But no one on the series — not Mark, or Lott, or even Miklos himself — knows yet whether Cooper’s clues will lead to any kind of success.

“It was a competitive situation,” Marks says of the bidding process for the show. “And we made the decision to go with Discovery, and part of the reason we did was because we were like, ‘Are you guys sure you’re okay with making this show this type of way?’ And they said, ‘No, that’s the show we want, we want to make it that way.'”

Amblin TV leapt at the chance to blend space exploration and treasure hunting into a single show. “Usually these relationships become, ‘Oh, let’s just slap all these people’s names on the show to get attention,'” Mark says. “But I have to say, I can’t believe how cool and helpful they’ve been.”

“There’s nothing quite as terrifying as a producer who’s been brought up the way we have to hear, ‘Oh yeah, Steven [Spielberg]’s watching it now,'” Lott adds.

In 1963, Gordon Cooper broke the record for longest solo spaceflight, logging just about 34.5 hours above the earth. During this journey, he couldn’t help but notice certain features that hinted at possible sunken treasure in the South Caribbean, and he took copious photographs from orbit to study back on the ground. Decades later, Miklos became friends with Cooper, who showed him his research. The two began collaborating, and Miklos eventually came to see Cooper as a father figure. Cooper died in 2004, but Miklos continued to attempt to piece together the work Cooper had done — a quest that continues to this day.

And if Miklos or the others are overly worried about how failure in their quest might affect the show, none of them seem to be outwardly sweating the prospect. “A lot of these shows, they won’t lean into the multidimensional aspect. It’s so much more authentic,” Mark says. “Which is sometimes really scary and hard, because at the end of the day, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re going to fail.”

There are signs that may auger some sort of success, though. The three recall sitting on a Florida beach, watching a thunderstorm roll in. “I said, ‘Do you think Gordon’s here right now?'” Lott says.

Miklos picks up the thread: “I was like, ‘I dunno. Gordon! Throw one down for me!’ Next thing you know, whack! This huge bolt of lightning comes right down!”

Mark senses the incredulity, responding with a quick, “We have it on camera.”

(Pictured: Darrell Miklos, Jerry Roberts, Ari Mark and Darryl Frank on stage at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 14, 2017.)

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  1. Nios is a total loser. We have been strung along for small 6 Episodes, while this ” Nobody” tries to attach himself to an American Icon, to legitimize himself!
    He is a loser and WHY DID IT TAKE HIM 13 YEARS To Come Forward????
    OMG, let me guess.. wait until Cooper’s Estate was Settled?? DAH!
    Cooper MUST have some family to ” Give His Treasures To!” Not jelous, just angry.
    In The End, I will make sure ALL monies found go To THE TAXPAYERS of The US, That Paid for his Findings!!! Since it has been made Perfectly CLEAR who paid for Coopers Trip to space!
    Discovery: Get out now, while you can!

  2. Cooper was proven to be something of a flimflam/scam artist/failure once he left NASA. And the ‘notes’ he took are an impossibility. See James Oberg’s narratives on the subject.
    Scripted BS like all the rest of those shows.

  3. Hallucination says:

    What a load of crap !!! Heard more convincing tales about the tooth fairy.
    All involved in making this show…STUPID IDIOTS.

  4. Stuart stephens says:

    Watching because I was in the carribean as a diver and boat Capt. In the 70’s but this Darrell Myklos is definitely a manufacturer of drama and BS supreme, have you ever seen such BS astranaut makes treasure map from space in the 60’s and gives it to this guy to make a REALITY SHOW because that’s what there doing and if they find something along the way it will be a miracle but anyway they’ve got discovery channel paying for all this BS.

  5. Roger Miklos says:

    I am so glad to see that everybody has not been misled into thinking they were watching a documentary series,but rather a reality show of the worst kind. Shame on you Ari Mark (Ample Entertainment) This is a shameful concoction of lies portraying my son as a treasure hunter and bosom friend of Gordon Cooper. If you do the math on the decades he knew Gordo,and check on the experience of my son Darrell, you would find out that something is not right. I, on the other hand ,have 56 years experience in the treasure business and lots of evidence to prove it. The editing on the show is disgraceful, trying to defame my character and ignoring the fact that the chart was given to me by my friend and associate
    Gordon Cooper in the Bahamas in1997 when he paid me a visit, I agreed to lend it to Darrell for use in the show. Incidentally I am not homeless and the money my son hands me in the last show was owed to me for my role in that instalment. I could go on and on……..like the commercials!!! I don’t.think Gordo would have appreciated his good name being associated with this trash and I am surprised that Mr. Spielberg would lend his name to such a production.

  6. DW says:

    This show is a total waste of time. I’ve never seen a show with so much repeat content. It’s absurd. They must not have found anything other than the anchor they keep showing when they tell you what they are going to show you this season. Even though it’s the 7th episode and they haven’t shown you anything except what was on the first show. Too bad. Seemed like a good story. Lame production.

    • Roger Steven says:

      I agree DW,T but what we are not going to told is that the “anchor” was found and photographed about 2001 before our “star” of the show “acquired” Gordons files.This is not even a reality show but rather an abomination and an insult to the viewers intelligence.

  7. Eric says:

    Funny thing is, this show feels very fake! They show the treasure hunter visiting his father on two different occasions and tell us it was two separate trips but both of them are wearing the same clothes. Clearly filmed on the same day. They also make a big deal about the master chart which has areas removed that our hero has but his dad has the chart and won’t share. The removed parts of the map are small areas that are filled with wreck debri, so all they need is the master chart, you don’t even need the cut out sections. His father years said he had found the Pinta and as luck has it Gordon Cooper has from space pointed our hero to where? The Pinta! Surprise! Feels fake.

    • Roger Steven says:

      Eric,you are spot on,it is fake and yes it was filmed on same day and grossly edited.Did you wonder how the hero meets Gordon in 1997,Gordon dies in 2004 and yet he claims him as his life long friend whom he has k nown for decades .And of course we are told that Gordon gave the hero files that he had shared with noone yet he had some years previously given the master map to the heros father who was Gordons friend from the early sixties.Why can’t Discovery give us a documentary based on Facts.Isn’t it a pity Gordon is dead and cant give us the real truth or is it fortunate for our hero?

  8. unimpressed says:

    Yawns*
    Another ” Billion dollar shipwreck” Yawn *

    The show wouldn’t be bad,..but the same family drama…UGH !
    Every episode gets old soo quickly , starting with episode #1, due to the father / son nonsense. Then theres the poor wife,…needing to capitalize on a treasure, to save her from their mediocre upper class spread in California. Wahhh!

    The father is just a passive aggressive prickface. I would cleaned his clock early on if I was his son. …..true dat !

    I truly despise the entire Discovery show line up , due to the drama! Hey DISCOVERY , not every person is into drama…WTF Discovery ! Stop the fucking redundancy-rhetoric, and the commercials are just insane.

    Recap before the commercial,….7 minutes of commercials. 30 second recap of show, just to return to 6 more minutes of commercials….the same ones I might add. ,….THEN RECAP FOR 2 MINUTES OF WHAT WE SAW BEFORE 13 MINUTES OF COMMERCIALS. So whats that 12 minutes of actual new content weekly?

    I’m so done with the Discovery channel, same trash. Its not suspenseful,…its a tru waste of viewers time.

    Discovery , you have yourselves to blame for the loss of viewers!

    Fake drama ,…yuck !

  9. David says:

    Tried to watch this silly show but the commercials made it impossible. The claim that they found Columbus’s anchor seemed contrived. There is very little to do with searching for lost treasure and more to do with following this guy around on his silly quest.

    • Roger Steven says:

      David well spotted,the whole show is CONTRIVED.That anchor was found in 1981 and nothing to do with Cooper.

  10. Laurie says:

    Hahaha. I would bet the two times Darrell visits his father were filmed in the same day. They were wearing the same clothes both times. The scenes where Darrell leaves dads house is the same one. 😂😂😘

  11. rob hunter says:

    Just another pseudo documentary. If this had any credibility, Darrell would have gotten a knock on
    the door by Federal Marshals months ago. That info would be owned by NASA and the Federal gov. It’s
    fiction.

  12. nina lazos says:

    You know, this Discovery show is gonna milk us until the end!! And the FATHER HAS TO GO. WHAT A DICK. No wonder your kid HATES YOU.

  13. Scott says:

    Just watched an episode. What a crock of shit! In one scene, he’s diving in deep water and claiming to have such poor visibility that he’s “blind”, but in the very next scene, he’s in water so shallow that you can see the surface and so clear that you can see the fish in the area.

  14. Lynn D Anderson says:

    Watched 2 episodes & in a word “SUCKS”
    Too much drama & NO RESULTS!!

  15. Dean says:

    Was really looking forward to the show….and then nonsense phony drama killed it for me. I’ll be surprised if I watch another episode.

  16. Rick says:

    I’m sure Gordon Cooper searched for many, many years for these treasure ships. How didn’t he find them?

  17. Bill hubbard says:

    Why is it that Darrell Milosz has the hand drawn charts from Gordon Cooper,didn’t taxpayers pay for the space program? Don’t the taxpayers get a cut?

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