You will find plenty of merchandise featuring “Pawn Stars” cast member Austin “Chumlee” Russell at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas — everything from Chumlee bobbleheads, golf balls and Chumberry lip balm to “Chumlee is my homeboy” and “Vote Chumlee for President” T-shirts — but you likely won’t see the 29-year-old reality TV star walking around the store during his shift.
The History network’s highest-rated show has made it difficult for Chumlee and co-stars Richard Harrison (aka “The Old Man”), his son Rick Harrison and Rick's son Corey Harrison (Chumlee’s childhood friend) to work anywhere but the private section of the tourist-heavy store.
“It put a kink in sales right away because everyone wanted pictures,” said Chumlee over the phone from Las Vegas last month. “It was no longer a private area for the guy trying to pawn a ring to get food.”
That’s not to say Chumlee hasn’t enjoyed the fame.
The Las Vegas native, nicknamed after the walrus on the 1960s cartoon “Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales,” has translated his popularity into a new clothing line (Mammoth Unltd.) and trade show appearances (Chumlee and WWE Superstar Rey Mysterio are set to appear at World of Wheels at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont Friday and Saturday, respectively). Chumlee also used his connections to meet rocker Ozzy Osbourne, who had a hit reality TV show himself once upon a time on MTV.
“Ozzie is a huge fan of (“Pawn Stars”),” Chumlee said. “We got to go to his dressing room before a show. He shook my hand and said, ‘Hey, I love the interaction between you and The Old Man.’”
In addition to the old-school vs. new-school interaction between the long-haired Chumlee and the grumpy-but-likable Old Man, the show, now in its fifth season, offers viewers brief history lessons on the rare items brought into the store for pawning, as well as brief background on the people trying to sell them. Viewers often find themselves pulling for the desperate seller during the bargaining process rather than the experienced buyers at Gold & Silver, but the show’s stars are still as popular as ever.
“We take pictures everywhere we go,” said Chumlee, who has more than 117,000 followers on Twitter. “I’ve already taken 20 pictures today.”
Heads up: Oscar-nominated actress Mariel Hemingway will meet with media in Chicago March 14 to promote the Wellness Week initiative. ... Season nine "Project Runway" contestant Viktor Luna will appear atMacy's on State Street March 8.
On the record: "People ask me all the time about which amazing restaurants they should go to, and I’ve got nothing. I could tell you to get a great $1.50 slice of pizza at this little place across the street from Loyola, but that’s it." -- "Once Upon a Time" star and Arlington Heighs native Jennifer Morrison talks about her time at Loyola in the March issue of Michigan Avenue magazine.
Speaking of Arlington Heights: Good luck to Arlington Heights native Jonathan Spector, Homer Glen native Brad Guzan and their U.S. national team teammates in their soccer friendly against Italy Wednesday. I normally try not to watch Italy play because their diving makes me want to throw my remote at the TV, but I'll make an exception for this one.
Sightings: Katie Couric dined at The Pump Room in the Gold Coast Tuesday. ... Actor John Lithgow (aka the best villain yet on Showtime's "Dexter") narrated the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's performance of "The Soldier's Tale" at Symphony Center in the Loop Saturday and Tuesday. ... "Modern Family" actor Ty Burrell took in Steep Theatre Company's production of "Love and Money" Friday. ... "Let's Make a Deal" host Wayne Brady had lunch at Frankie's Scaloppine in 900 North Michigan Shops Tuesday. ... U.S. figure skater Evan Lysacek and actor Joe Pantoliano dined at RPM Italian in River North Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews visited RPM Italian Friday. ... O.A.R. drummer Chris Culos and Jenni Pulos, host of Bravo's "Flipping Out," hung out separately at Old Town Social Saturday. Pulos also was spotted at Charles Ifergan Salon and Exhale Spa that day. ... The Green Bay Packers' Jermichael Finley dined at Hub 51 Friday. ... The Bears' Lance Briggs and New York Giants' David Diehl hung out at Paris Club's upstairs lounge, Studio Paris, Saturday. Diehl was spotted at Enclave Friday. ... The Milwaukee Bucks' Mike Dunleavy Jr. had dinner at Joe's Stone Crab Thursday. ... The Blackhawks' Corey Crawford and Bryan Bickel dined at Chicago Cut Steakhouse Thursday.
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