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Jamie Colby Reveals the Secrets of Strange Inheritance

Strange Inheritance was a docu-series on Fox Business Network, or FBN, that ran from 2015 to 2018. For four seasons, it took a look at the world of unusual and oddball inheritance stories, documenting what people inherited, what they then did with it, and how it affected them and their families. Jamie Colby, a former Fox News correspondent turned anchor, hosted the program, and her duties took her to almost 40 states. The show was never a monster hit, but it had enough loyal viewers to keep coming back year after year. But after season 4, FBN decided it was time to pull the plug. In this video, we’re taking a closer look at this quirky and interesting docu-series, as well as diving into Jamie Colby’s insider scoops on some behind the scenes aspects of the show. So join Facts Verse, as we present: Jamie Colby Reveals the Secrets of Strange Inheritance!

Jamie Colby’s Strange Career Path

No two career paths in the entertainment world are the same. And that’s why you often see people take very roundabout ways to becoming huge successes. Jamie’s story is no different. She grew up in Manhattan, as the child of a TV executive and a stay at home mom. Sadly, her parents split when Jamie was only 12, and Jamie wound up moving to Miami with her mom. It was in these days that her brilliance and hard working nature started to become evident. She reportedly went to business school the University of Miami when she was only 16 years old. And then, as if that wasn’t impressive enough, she went to law school there, and got her law degree by the time she was 22.

Soon after that she received her first big break – a job at a California law firm run by Henry Bushkin. Bushkin was, at that point, the personal lawyer for the legendary talk show host, Johnny Carson. Jamie essentially became Bushkin’s protégé, and after passing the California bar, began practicing law at his firm full time. She was mesmerized by the convergence of the law and the entertainment business, and dove in head first. Even in those early days, she was fortunate enough to get to negotiate on behalf of Johnny, give him business and legal advice, and assist him in acquiring radio stations and production deals for his company, Carson Productions. One notable win they had together was a deal to produce the classic film, The Big Chill. But over time, she began to wonder if she was destined for more work in front of the camera than behind it. After Carson died, she shifted gears. She moved back to NYC with her second husband, Mark, and took the New York bar to practice law there. But while she waiting for that admission process, she took quite the turn in her career. She started working at Channel 55 on Long Island, as a do-everything producer of new segments. She literally did everything from producing new segments, telling the stories on camera, and even cleaning up the studio. It was backbreaking work, but it ultimately paid off. She was able to parlay that job into some gigs at the show Extra, some work as a backup anchor on an overnight news show for CBS, and a reporter for CNN. And eventually that led to a job at Fox News, where she was able to move up the ranks to correspondent and eventually a new anchor.

Strange Inheritance

In 2015, she was picked to host Strange Inheritance. And while the viewership of FBN is nowhere near that of Fox News, it was still a big opportunity. Jamie would be the host of her own show, with the potential to not only reach a ton of new viewers, but to prove that she was a bankable and reliable star. And the show’s content immediately appealed to her. She’d spent time helping big stars like Johnny Carson and Joan Rivers amass their fortunes. But she admits that she hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about what happens to all their stuff and their money after they pass on.

She spent the next several years traveling the country, filming episodes of the show, and averaging about 300 nights on the road. But reportedly she loved every minute of it. There were some who labeled her gig as the best job in cable news, a sentiment that was in line with Jamie’s thoughts. At the time, the other person with that common descriptor was the late Anthony Bourdain. But Colby once joked that her job was even better, at least for her, because she would probably weigh 800 pounds if she travelled around eating the best food in the world.

Now let’s talk about some of the insider scoops that Jamie has revealed about the show.

How They Choose Locations

According to Jamie, there was a pretty rigorous set of guidelines the show imposed on itself to make sure each story was worth telling, and each filming location was worth travelling to. First, they’d obviously look at the items that were inherited. If they were strange, rare, shockingly valuable, or significant in terms of history, then they’d look further into shooting there.

Then there were the requirements of the heirs. Since they needed to produce a captivating story for the show, they needed the heirs to have a story that was either interesting, or suspenseful, or ideally both. If that seemed to be the case, the film crew would then start filming the heirs, and try to stay up on the story in real time. They’d also go to any auctions the heirs went to, in case they decided to sell their inherited items.

And as far as how they even found the cases in the first place, it was all about knowing precisely where to look, and then spending hours upon hours looking for interesting inheritances. They’d look at probate records and news clippings, for example. And when the show started to get fans, they’d even ask for submissions from viewers. In fact, 11 of the 28 episodes from season 3 were directly from people who contacted the show. Colby mused about this process, saying that people would write an email to the show, and then suddenly the next day she’d call them, and a few days later she and the crew would be sitting in their home, interviewing them about a Strange Inheritance!

Traveling Tips

Jamie’s time on the road filming the show certainly made her a travel pro. She says she relied (and still does) heavily on apps to make her life easier. Some are travel oriented, like Accuweather, and Travelocity, as well as baggage tracking apps. (Although these days she likely uses an air tag, or some other GPS device on her bags.) But during her time traveling for Strange Inheritance, she also heavily relied on apps that she could use to plan ahead, even if it was just for coffee. She’d use the Dunkin Donuts app to order ahead, so that she and the crew didn’t have to wait in the parking lot for their big order to get made. And when she knew she was on the way home soon, she’d hit up shopping apps and send household goods and food to her house before she got there.

As far as her go-to hotels, Jaime spoke highly of the Waldorf Astoria Key West. She remembered going there even as a correspondent, and loving the fact that she could relax on the sand while eating dinner as a way to take a few moments off. She also likes other high end spots like the Mandarin Oriental in DC, as well as more offbeat spots like the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah Nevada. She said she and the crew staying there while filming an episode on someone who inherited a literal goldmine. She was told the hotel was haunted, but even so, had an awesome stay.

Her Favorite Destinations

While filming Strange Inheritances, Jamie got to see a lot of the U.S. And while she had a great time in most places, some stood out for her more. In particular, she talks about getting to see places that she likely wouldn’t have ever visited if the show didn’t exist. For example, she adored the Willamette Valley region in Oregon, and had her breath taken away seeing the majestic Mt. Hood as she sipped on wine. (She wasn’t drinking on the job – the episode was about a young boy who inherited a winery.)

And she’s a fan of big, wide open spaces, of which there are plenty around the US. She mentioned being moved by the splendor of the clouds in Montana, and being a huge fan of Texas. She reveled in the chance to film at an old fort in Texas that had once housed Robert E. Lee, and had been rebuilt and ended up being inherited by someone.

And she talked about her adoration for the giant redwood forests of Northern California, where they also spent time filming the show.

The Main Story Types

The show got a cult following by sticking to a formula of show types. There were generally 6 types. First there was when the person didn’t realize the items they were inheriting even existed. Then there were shows where the person found a hidden treasure among inheritances that were mostly junk. Then there were episodes where the person inhertigted a known item that they had help in high regard already. And there were episodes where someone inherits a huge collection, where each item might not necessarily have been valuable, but the collection as a whole was. One interesting type was when a person’s inheritance was ultimately more trouble than it was worth. And finally, episodes when the person inheriting the items are a stranger to the person who left them.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Did you ever watch Strange Inheritance? What was your favorite ep? Let us know in the comments section below!

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