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

Cooper's Treasure Discovery

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. Cal says:

    The show is the bomb I didn’t get a great season finally, because i didnt know it was the season finally, but I don’t care as long as I get season 2,, mtaweigh is a donkey, if they were billiinaires they could hire the best, for now they have what they need. And I love it!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. mtaweigh says:

    I have no idea if this show is a legitimate hunt or another contrived television production. I do know that I become suspicious when you see team members who are clearly unqualified for their supposed role. Case in point is this Ashley Guttoso, the “documentation specialist.” She appears to have nothing to offer at any of the team meetings…she either is mute, or she asks inane questions. During one meeting regarding the raising of the anchor, she asks how they will be able to wet the anchor with sea water once it is on deck. What? Anyone who has a passing knowledge of vessels would know there are many ways to accomplish this. She clearly seems uncomfortable in the few dives she makes during the show. Her only role so far seems to be to serve either as a token female or as eye candy for male viewers. During one on camera appearance she sticks her head out of the cabin door looking as if she just got out of bed, tousled hair, etc. The one thing I have noticed is that whenever she is on camera, she is either standing or sitting next to Darrell, smiling, nodding, seemingly hanging on every word. If I were Darrell’s long-suffering wife, I would be concerned. This woman clearly has no legitimate role on the team unless that role is Darrell’s fun time while in Turks. Please do not insult our intelligence by pretending otherwise.

  3. GREG says:


  4. Jerry2286 says:

    Although I don’t know why I actually watched this show. I can safely say they failed.

  5. Gene Nowak says:

    I hope both Cooper’s Treasure and Oak Island return. My primary concern is with their formatting. Both programs devote so much time in every episode to recap past episodes. This is monotonous and boring to watch while being broadcast live. Therefore, I replay it a day or two later so the repetition can be fast forwarded thru in order to see the meat of the episode.

  6. Neil Lillard says:

    I like it as much as oak island!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Neil Lillard says:

    BRING COOPERS TREASURE BACK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

  8. Neil Lillard says:

    Why was the show taken off air?

  9. Neil Lillard says:

    Plz I loved the show

  10. Neil Lillard says:

    I loved the show very much we need stuff like this plz bring back

  11. Very disappointed Cooper’s Treasure ended abruptly after 6 weeks! Will it be back?

    • Roger Steven says:

      You are lucky it ended!Ginger.In the UK we are going to have to endure tomorrow night Episode 2 Season 2 according to the TV guide.Confused! We are too and wondering why there is no Episode 1 of Season 2.But then the whole show has been a disaster and an insult to viewers intelligence.

  12. jaime perez says:

    i love cooper treature /im mad when when off aire/please put it back/jp

  13. apolloguy says:

    When they introduced the marine archaeologist, they listed his credentials which included “diving on the Titanic” while at the same time showing a video of a scuba diver on the screen. Scuba at 12,000 feet? Don’t think so.

  14. Tonk says:

    I also find it interesting, is that when they bring up the anchor or find it, the archaeologist sitting next to him looks away,when he starts telling the story about the Pinta. And Rogers kid has to cover up his story, by turning it back to what the archaeologists said earlier. Something to the fact of, “you have to be worried or wonder what those guys were feeling when the anchor failed” and they were pushed towards reffs or seas.
    When I saw that reaction you could tell that that archaeologists was never going to admit that it was the Columbus ship and anchor period he went on to mention we’re going to have to find pottery and other items around the wreck. And if the anchor was there already and they brought it up I think they were just waiting for the government to give them an okay for the Salvage permit. It was basically a backup plan in case they never found anything they could at least bring up the anchor.
    If it does air, the next season, it looks like they’re trying to keep the anchor from getting out of the country period when is Dad claimed to find erect with all the black pearls and stuff, the government didn’t want to let it out and it looks like they’re not going to let this out either. So essentially they went on a wild goose chase to buy ratings for TV and sell the story cuz they knew they’d lose the anchor in the end

  15. Barbara Berry says:

    I hope this show will continue to follow any success or failures at trying to find treasure.

  16. Lawrence Avicola says:

    You go Darrell, I believe and I have faith in you that you will succeed. I too am a treasure hunter and prospector. This is a fantastic project and I really believe you are on to something very, very BIG! Good luck and my very best wishes for a huge success. Not if but when you hit the jackpot I would be honored if you would extend an invitation to the big celebration.
    Sincerely, Larry

  17. James Oberg says:

    Cooper’s pattern of spinning delusional yarns to attract new friends, in his sad declining years after washing out of the astronaut program, are well known in the space community but are not a topic folks like to talk about, sort of like the crazy uncle living in the spare bedroom upstairs. I don’t doubt he told stories of spotting treasure hulks while scouting for secret soviet missile bases. After leaving NASA bitterly disappointed by not getting his moon flight, he became spokesman for a company selling magic engines that turned air into fuel [until it was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission]. He claimed he saved the shuttle program from a lethal design flaw by relaying a telepathic warning from space aliens. He naively flacked for several bogus aviation investment schemes that cost his friends and others who trusted him millions of dollars — and lost his own savings in them, too. He described his capsule getting hammered by a meteor storm that nobody back on Earth found even a scratch from [the undamaged capsule is on public display in Houston] — and he claimed to have taken photos from space on which you could read license plates when the best NASA space cameras couldn’t even see parking lots. He described imaginary pow-wows with Soviet cosmonauts who revealed to him deep secrets of their program — all fictitious. He described flying a test model of an eccentric Utah inventor’s flying saucer around a barn with a remote-control joystick, but the inventor’s daughter said it had never worked and didn’t move an inch for Cooper, either. He packed a travel bag and his camera when he was promised a space ride on an alien craft, but then claimed it was cancelled because of an extraterrestrial political spat.

    • James Oberg says:

      In April 2016 when the program was first announced, I had postred a shorter warning on several of the entertainment sites that were promoting the idea. Sadly, the warning didn’t get to the right people then. “I’d be REALLY cautious about stories relying on Cooper’s claims. After NASA quietly booted him off a moon landing mission and out of the astronaut corps for losing his mojo, he descended into claims of saving the space program from lethal design flaws by relaying telepathic warnings from benevolent space aliens, pimping for bogus aviation investment schemes that lost millions of dollars, weaving wild UFO stories that all other witnesses disputed, and repeatedly subjecting himself to David Letterman late night TV mockery, in attempts to cling to public attention. It was a sad story that embarrassed NASA and his former friends. It’s better to remember him for his glory days and leave his twilight years in the shadows.”

  18. Doug says:

    About as phony as it gets. Too much bs talk and not enough meat to make it believable. I’m done with it, more truth in road runner and Wiley Coyote cartoons.

    • James Oberg says:

      And the ‘meat’ they DO offer on the spaceflight basis of the map is all rotten:

      1. There is no way — and no reason — for the Pentagon to put a secret remote-sensing device on Mercury-9 to seek Soviet missile bases. Miklos says it was trolled on a line like his underwater magnetometer — that doesn’t even WORK in the vacuum of space.

      2. Cooper had scant time for sight-seeing and only had one available daylight pass over Turks & Caicos, when he was fully occupied with other experiments.

      3. Cooper only took a few dozen photographs [the “five thousand” quotation is bogus, faked from separate comments on unrelated subjects].

      4. None were over the Caribbean. And none showed anything smaller than cities.

      5. There was no way Cooper could glance out the window, see something anomalous, and write down the latitude/longitude for later reference [Miklos says he used GPS, which hadn’t been invented for decades yet].

      6. There was no way Cooper could keep a secret notebook in flight and not show it to NASA.

      Miklos has been asked about these factual difficulties and refused to answer any of them.

  19. apolloguy says:

    This show is so bad I can’t stop watching it, just to see how much worse it gets!

  20. Tonk says:

    I know his dad supposedly found the record few years ago and now his son is basically doing his father’s work. His dad got screwed over by that foreign government and his dad seem to know all he was going to pull out of there was” some anker or Spanish artfact” as he says. Supposably his Dad was supposed to find this same shipwreck but didn’t come up with the 20 million dollars funding his people backed out and his dad already had the manifest so what his kid have to go to get the Manifest at that time?

  21. Daniel K Maxwell says:

    It’s bull I invested a lot of time just 2 see a anchor I won’t watch any more episodes

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. Hallucination says:

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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…… 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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?

  29. unimpressed says:

    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 !

  30. 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.

      • Mike says:


        Where are the pictures from your 1981 find? I want to see the real discovery rather than a made up story.

  31. 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. 😂😂😘

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. Lynn D Anderson says:

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

  36. 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.

  37. Rick says:

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

  38. 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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