BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Beautiful, rare and costly things can really get the juices flowing. And never more so than when offered by a high-end auction house, whose mission is to trigger bloodlust among its rival bidders.
"The Art of More" trades on the glamour and greed that drives this cut-throat world. Starring Dennis Quaid and Christian Cooke, it's the first original drama series from streaming network Crackle, where its full 10-episode season, co-starring Kate Bosworth and Cary Elwes, premieres Thursday.
Quaid deploys his rascally swagger in full force as Samuel Brukner, a self-made billionaire for whom collecting is a game he refuses to lose.
"He appreciates art," says Quaid, "but along with collecting art, he collects people. He accrues power. He can do anything he wants, so he's fun to play."
Cooke plays Graham Connor, a scrappy opportunist who in the 1950s might have been labeled a Sammy Glick. Relentless in his push to rise in the posh auction world, Connor is a charmer and a hustler as he plays on collectors' appetites and addictions while struggling to hide his rough-and-tumble past.
Cooke, who played a squeaky-clean prosecutor in Starz' Miami Beach drama "Magic City," here is quite the opposite: His genuine love of art encompasses the art of stealing it and bilking anyone who gets in his way.
"All the characters are using each other to get what they want," Cooke sums up. "They use one another to get ahead."
Quaid, a veteran film star, recently headlined CBS' "Vegas" as crusty, upstanding Sheriff Ralph Lamb.
Asked how it feels to move from a legacy broadcast network to a digital outlet for this new series, he says, "The actual making of the show feels the same as they always do.
"But I love being part of something new," he adds. "This is where everything is going to go. There is where the networks are going to have to go, eventually. This is what people want."
Cooke observes that, whatever the risk borne by a startup series on a niche network, "If the show is good, it finds a voice and an audience. In many ways, doing an independent film is more risky: You make the film without a distribution deal, without knowing if it's going into festivals. With this series, you know you've got the platform."
Asked if he was a habitue of auctions, Quaid smiled: "I went to a cattle auction one time. But I thought this was a really interesting world that I had never seen in a drama before."
It's a world of high-stakes, big-money action that, Cooke notes, saw a Picasso sell a few months ago for $179 million. Just last week a painting of a nude by Amedeo Modigliani fetched $170 million.
"And there's so much more than the money and the theater of the auction," says Cooke. "Our story is about the smuggling of illegal pieces from the Middle East, the trip down a rabbit hole of corruption."
As the story unfolds, Brukner and Connor will by turns clash and work in cahoots.
But Quaid and Cooke report that, behind the scenes, they get along great.
"I took him under my wing," says Quaid.
"Dennis has been great," Cooke declares.
"The only advice I gave you was 'Keep out of my way,'" says Quaid, again flashing his saucy smile. "And I also told you: 'Never, never go outside without looking your best.'"
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore