Updated May 24, 9:21 a.m.
It was kind of a cool concept — a reality show about a flea market with the promise of celebrity guests — and it was being filmed at supposedly for a major TV network.
, launched April 29, seemed to be growing in popularity, say attendees, and last Sunday's event included a car show and some food trucks. The show's producer and organizer of the flea market even said he would be auctioning off storage units donated by popular A&E reality show Storage Wars. [Ed.'s note: The Facebook post has since been deleted, but a screen shot is included in the photo gallery.]
But on Wednesday the school district pulled the plug on the wannabe show, issuing a press release stating that show producer Michael Gouveia wasn’t paying the district rental fees and had failed to present insurance documentation, according to district spokesman Rick La Plante.
The district’s statement:
The New Haven Unified School District has terminated its relationship with the individual who was renting the James Logan High School parking lot on Sunday mornings to run a flea market that he said he was having filmed for a “Flea Market Wars” television pilot. The individual failed to provide requested insurance documentation and has not paid his rental fees.
Neither the District nor Logan High was involved in running the event.
Gouveia was to pay $800 per week, plus additional weekly custodial costs of $120, La Plante said.
In addition, a few of the things Gouveia has told Union City Patch don’t quite add up.
Maggie Nye, a spokesperson for Original Productions, which produces Storage Wars, said the company has “absolutely no knowledge of Michael Gouveia.” A production manager for Storage Wars also said the show’s producers have never donated storage units and have also never heard of “Flea Market Wars.”
Gouveia declined to speak with Union City Patch, saying he only would comment with an attorney recording the conversation.
One issue is over the spelling of his last name.
In an April 24 email exchange with Union City Patch, Gouveia confirmed the spelling of his last name as “Gouvea.” However, according to the New Haven School District, the name on file is “Gouveia.”
The misspelling of the last name, which could have been a typo on his behalf (see attached screenshot of author’s email inbox), is key because a Google search of “Michael Gouveia” turns up a link to someone with that name who has a criminal background.
According to online federal court records, that Michael Gouveia was sentenced by a U.S. Disrict Court in San Jose to eight months in federal prison and three years supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $34,792.40 in restitution.
In an interview with Patch last month, Gouveia said he was a Los Angeles-based producer but would not comment on his previous work history. He said then that he selected Union City after scouting various locations in the Bay Area.
But the New Haven Unified School District lists a San Ramon address for him and has a San Leandro P.O. box on file from when he filled out his initial paperwork.
The Flea Market Wars Facebook page, which was briefly taken down, noted that Gouveia “Worked at A+E Networks (Executive Producer).” (See attached screenshot.) The reference has since been removed from the Facebook page.
A LinkedIn profile for a “Mike Gouveia” lists him as a Los Angeles-based executive producer at RealityWorldTV. There's a RealityWorldTV Twitter account listing the same 310 area code phone number used to promote Flea Market Wars in tweets to a porn star and various models soliciting donations for a church. The Twitter page account holder signs some of his tweets with “Mike."
That Twitter page has since been deleted following Union City Patch's report.
Regardless of Gouveia’s mysterious history, the cancellation of Flea Market Wars is a loss for the community, residents said.
Union City resident John Celestre said he’d gone to each of the three Flea Market Wars events with his 80-year-old mother.
“It was growing every week. It would double in size,” Celestre said. “Everyone seemed to be having a good time. I kept seeing people spending money. Everyone was buying. It was just nice to see that.”
Like many others, Celestre was upset to see an announcement on the Flea Market Wars Facebook page that cited “disagreements with the New Haven Unified School District and the City” as the reason for the end of the filming.
Later, on Wednesday afternoon, a post on the Flea Market Wars Facebook page was made that alleged their agreement was for the school district “to receive a percentage of the success of the pilot. In return, Flea Market Wars would rent out the parking lot until the end of the 2012 year.” The poster said a district employee made the deal with Flea Market Wars without receiving authority from his superiors.
“This had nothing to do with insurance forms. Those were sent in and paid in full over a month ago,” read a comment posted by Flea Market Wars on Facebook.
In the previous Patch interview, Gouveia had touted his filming concept as “incredible.” “Not only does it help the school district, it brings the community together,” he said.
The show was pitched to have a similar concept as Storage Wars but with a slight twist. Each weekend, a celebrity guest was to attend the flea market and pick an item from five different vendors for less than $20 a piece. Those purchases were to be appraised for their value at the end of each episode.
At the end of the season, the celebrity guest who made the most profit from their purchases would receive $50,000 to be given to a charity and the top five vendors who sold the items of greatest value would receive $50,000 to split amongst them, according to Gouveia.
But according to market goers, there were no celebrities or cameras.
Juan Lecaros, owner of, sold goods at the Flea Market Wars each week. He said two cameramen were present the first week, but he hadn't seen them since.
“[Gouveia] seemed legit. He seemed like a nice guy,” Lecaros said. “The whole reason I was doing it was if it was legit, it’d be another outlet for the store to get noticed.”
“It’s like any other flea market, you pay for your spot and sell what you have,” Lecaros said.
He said Gouveia had waived the $30 vending fee for him the last two weeks and told him he might be one of the vendors featured on the television show.
Celestre said he was eager to round up some of his belongings to sell this weekend before learning of the cancellation Tuesday night.
“I was hoping it would grow larger, and we would have fun with it,” Celestre said.
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