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Popular 'Storage Wars' coming north of the border; filming to start in May

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TORONTO - The hunt is on for the future Canuck stars of "Storage Wars Canada."

A Canadian version of the popular U.S. reality series is set to begin filming in Ontario next month and OLN says they're looking for treasure hunters, auctioneers and appraisers with big personalities to helm the series.

Auctioneers Dan and Laura Dotson — co-stars of the U.S. version of "Storage Wars" — said they're continually approached by Canuck fans who want to know how they can try their luck at striking it rich.

"We have more Canadian fans in the Great White North than you would imagine and they are very excited about this hitting the streets here," the jolly Dan Dotson boasted while seated next to his wife, Laura Dotson, for a round of interviews in Toronto.

"There are so many facilities out here and buyers that are absolutely just (chomping) at the bit to showcase themselves," Laura Dotson added.

"There's treasures out here that haven't been found and are just untapped. We're ready to come and bring the cameras and just show the world what's going on."

"Storage Wars Canada" will feature buyers and their teams bidding on the contents of abandoned storage containers hoping to find valuables tucked inside.

As in the U.S. version, each squad will be given mere minutes to scan the locker and then offer what they think its contents are worth if put up for resale.

Claire Freeland, director of original programming for Rogers Media, said casting is key to making sure the show succeeds.

She said the show itself won't vary much from the version fans are familiar with. But there will almost certainly be some Canadian treasure uncovered.

"Formats are funny because you never want to tinker for the sake of tinkering with formats," Freeland said.

"I think it will be inherently different in that our cast is going to be Canadian and then, of course, what we find in the lockers (will be unique)."

The Dotsons — who run the auction portal listing storage auctions underway in Canada, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom — said anyone interested in joining the auction game should first observe seasoned buyers in action.

"If it looks like junk, it probably is," advised Dan Dotson, adding that certain things just don't sell, like office furniture.

And Laura Dotson said buyers should pay attention to their nose as well as their eyes, recalling one nasty encounter with a skunk.

"Sometimes you can open up a unit and go, 'Wow, that's hardwood, I can smell good wood in there. But I can't see it,'" she said.

"You've got to look around and (note) tell-tale signs. See if there's footprints going in and out of that unit. Has it been stored a long time? Are the boxes opened?"

But sometimes you just have to take a chance. One unit with a couple of heavy filing cabinets had $4,000 cash in a bottom drawer, she said. Dan Dotson recalled a locker storing only what appeared to be white plaster tables. They turned out to be made from white jade and worth $15,000.

"I don't know why people leave what they do, but I can tell you for sure that when people get under the gun their priorities change," said Dan Dotson.

"Plus they're not always the one to put it into storage. Sometimes very famous people have other people put stuff in storage (for them) and then they fail to pay and then that's it."

The series heads north as a lawsuit alleges producers of past episodes of "Storage Wars" were rigged to build drama for the show, which airs on A&E in the U.S.

Former "Storage Wars" star David Hester claims he was fired from the fourth season because he complained about locker tinkering. Dan Dotson dismissed the allegations.

"Dave has said a lot of things like I do bid-rigging. Well, that's a felony. I don't do that. Every unit I sell on 'Storage Wars' is a legitimate unit," he insisted.

"Storage Wars Canada" is the latest reality series to get a Maple Leaf makeover. Also on the way is CTV's "Amazing Race Canada" and Food Network Canada's "Chopped Canada" while Slice is currently airing the inaugural version of "Big Brother Canada."

Filming is slated to start in May.

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