Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Rick Ruhl » 10/09/08 01:22 PM

Terry wrote:On TMZ last night, they quoted an audience member saying, "Angel makes David Copperfield look good and he's an old guy".

Real difference in edited TV and a live show.


Hmm Criss is almost 41 and David just tuned 52. 11 years difference doesn't make David and 'old guy', he's just been around longer, like since he was 19! Maybe that makes him seem older.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 10/09/08 09:50 PM

[size:11pt][font:Times New Roman]October has been a historically tough month.

In 1844 the followers and some of the clerics of an autodidact interpreter of Biblical prophesy named William Miller, founder of the "Millerism" religious movement, announced the exact date of the Second Coming of Christ during a New Hampshire camp meeting

That day was to be 22 October 1848.

Previously, Miller himself predicted the date to be between 21 March 1843 and 21 March 1844 which missed the mark.

Many of the Millerites gave away all their earthly possessions stood watch on a New York state hilltop and, obviously, the predicted second Parousia, failed to materialize.

The non-event became known as "The Great Disappointment" by his followers many of which went on to form the forerunner of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

There several parallels in the above and the 31 October opening of Believe.

A mention was made of efforts that were doomed to failure at inception.

Based upon what I have read here, this performer's current effort stands a great chance of being referred to as, "The Great Disappointment", by his legions of devotees and audiences in general thrown in for good measure.

On the positive side, and in the spirit of September/October 2008 season, the Fed should be an easy touch for a hundred large to bail out this corporate blunder.
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Postby skeptic555 » 10/10/08 02:39 PM

So, here is one more "review" - this one from a decidedly CIRQUE point of view. Taken from the Cirque Tribune (which is a Cirque Uber-fan forum). Ill be seeing it with my own eyes in a little over 2 weeks, and will be sure to weigh in after that:

After reading Doug Elfman's now-famous column outlining the audience reaction to the first previews of BELIEVE, I just HAD to go see it before Cirque either a.) fixes it, or b.) closes it for major re-working.

Caught the show this past Saturday night, and the bottom line is that it truly is every bit as bad as the Review Journal made it out to be. BELIEVE is flat out boring, silly, and unengaging, but somehow better than ZAIA.

Like ZAIA, though, the root of the problems lies in inept writing/direction. Trying to re-write the rules of theatre is one thing, but being oblivious to the basic principles is another. On the whole, BELIEVE comes off as if the Goth kids from High School were given $85 million and a DVD of Julie Taymor's production of "The Magic Flute", and given the mandate to create a Cirque-style production.

The premise is promising, but saying it is poorly executed doesn't even start to do it justice.

The show begins as a typical Las Vegas magic show, though following a staged accident, we're transported into Criss' subconscious where the rules of logic, gravity, and reality need not apply.

Sounds cool- right? It's not.

Flawed from the outset, after the accident where there should be a big TRANSPORTIVE MOMENT, the show comes to a grinding halt with a video clip, followed by a puppet rabbit reading the "rules of the house", followed by the big rabbit dance number. That critical moment of engagement/buy-in never takes place, and therein, the manifested universe is not once convincing or especially interesting.

Sadly, it's downhill from there. The show degrades as it wears on, as exemplified in the following sequence;

On the large screen, GIANTS emerge from the foggy woods as physical GIANTS (Michael Curry puppets) come in from stage right and stage left. Criss rips off their frocks to reveal that they are not giants, but rather half a dozen MOLE PEOPLE working the inner mechanisms of GIANT "ROBOTS". Having seen through their act, there's only one thing left to do- a DANCE OFF!

We go to the underground lair home to the mole people, who therein perform a large dance routine before Criss rises from his throne only to win the "dance battle"- a display so powerful it sends the mole people running off in all directions.

Criss assesses the situation and the scattered remains of the giant sitting on the floor, and REFERENCING THE AUDIENCE, tell the four Valet characters that "these people paid good money to be here tonight! We should build them something!"... ... ... makes sense- right?

So, as the Valet characters start putting these pieces together, Criss turns to the audience and explains "now, you're not gonna believe this! this happens every night! every night around 7:50, these guys fall for this! watch!". The monster constructed from the pieces comes to life, chases everyone around the theatre a bit, and eventually it turns out to be Criss inside the puppet (one of the show's several obvious uses of body doubles).

Sadly, this is a mild example of the show's many inane sequences that border on bad children's theatre with a budget.

In the end, you're left initially with a sense of "what the [censored] was that", followed by a bitter taste that for me, now 5 days later, still hasn't shaken off. "This Gig Is F****d" indeed.

Given the technical elements in place, BELIEVE is fixable, though by my estimation only 15-20% of what's on stage now is salvageable. A new director with a solid vision is what's needed to recoup this train wreck. I would also suggest re-thinking the price structure- regardless of what the future holds for BELIEVE, it will never be worth Cirque's top price tier, and quite frankly feels rather out-of-place in a setting such as LUXOR.

Most significantly of all, is that this is the first time the public is calling Cirque out on its faltering standards in a big way.

Anyone else who's seen the show agree? Disagree?

Man I hope ZED is great...
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 10/10/08 03:19 PM

[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]Sounds like the groundwork has been laid for a 21st century version of the 1849 Astor Place riot with the notable exception of the actions of only one prima donna precipitating the affair.[/size][/font]
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Postby Paul Q » 10/10/08 04:27 PM

Maybe this whole "preview season" is one big mindfreak.

Maybe on Oct. 31st the whole show changes into something brilliant and unexpected.



and maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/10/08 08:35 PM

Whether monkeys depart from Uranus or not (and for my British friends, we pronounce the name of the planet with a long "a"), considering the withering comments about the previews, and the economic catastrophe engulfing the economy right now (and this includes tanking hotel bookings in Vegas, among other resort destinations like Walt Disney World), it will be very hard to fill the Believe theater twice a night at those prices.

As was reported months ago, almost a million dollars was cut from the magic budget for the show.

Despite the anonymous review above which Craig Mitchell posted, from someone who has "worked in the theater for 20 years," much creative work is in fact done to shows during previews. This is the history of the musical theater: whole song and dance numbers are cut, others are quickly written; scene order is shuffled; actors replaced; directors replaced; and so on.

I'm not going to defend or condemn Criss Angel at this point. They've got just over two weeks to get ready to open. They know what their problems are, but whether they'll get fixed is another story. Cirque has insured the show in case Criss walks or fails to perform. The reviews will speak clearly on Oct.31.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/10/08 09:25 PM

Ray T. Stott wrote:[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]Sounds like the groundwork has been laid for a 21st century version of the 1849 Astor Place riot with the notable exception of the actions of only one prima donna precipitating the affair.[/size][/font]



Not sure about the riot part but a sort of magician's duel, as in the latter part of the movie "The Prestige" might be fun for audiences and good for both of them. IMHO this could work well given their basic branding is distinct.

Now as to which if either could take the stage and do a better Hamlet...
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Reason: Green eggs and Hamlet - a new musical based upon the works of our two greatest writers...
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Postby castawaydave » 10/10/08 10:41 PM

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/10/08 10:58 PM

Okay maybe he looks more like Brian Malko of Placebo than Olivier doing Hamlet but I'm still hoping the show pulls together and we start hearing about strange guest appearances as the show becomes a standard in Vegas.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/11/08 12:27 AM

Jeez, you can't believe some of the quotes in the new LA Times piece that Dave linked to above:

I mean, how screwed up does this sound: "Cirque has never put its clout behind an individual performer this way before. And the troupe made a counterintuitive choice in hiring 'Believe's' co-writer and director Serge Denoncourt to bring it to the stage. 'I'm well known in Quebec to be stubborn and hands-on and a control freak,' Denoncourt said. 'As well, everybody knows I hate magic. I'm trying to direct a show for people who love it but also for people like me who hate magic'."

So, Cirque hires a guy to direct the show who hates magic? A guy who's a control freak to oversee Criss Angel, king of the control freaks? Does it take a genius to foresee what the result of that would be? It's either a stroke of genius or a catastrophe ...

And this:
"It's a Cirque show where he is the main character," Ste-Croix said by phone from Montreal last month. "We used this man who has the following of a star, but in our scenario. It's not MGM with Criss Angel, it's MGM with Cirque du Soleil. Because he is the main artist, we had him participate with input."
To underscore his Cirque-centric viewpoint, Ste-Croix added: "Maybe, you know, if Lance Burton or David Copperfield had said, 'We want to do a show,' we would have considered it. We thought about the opportunity with Criss and said, 'We can do this.' It's as simple as that, how we ended up with Criss on the marquee."
Never mind that until Ste-Croix began suggesting otherwise, Angel -- not Cirque -- had been positioned as the show's headlining draw. To wit, a 43,000-square-foot billboard of the "Mindfreak" star's face stares up from a side of the pyramid-shaped Luxor.
Backstage, Angel bristled at the characterization. Turns out Ste-Croix made similar remarks to a local newspaper that happened to be unfolded in the magician's lap.
"That's not the case," he said, looking to a coterie of managers, publicists, lawyers and illusion specialists in his room for confirmation.
"We need to have a conversation with Mr. Gilles Ste-Croix."

That certainly doesn't sound like a group who are working harmoniously toward creating a coherent show. The story is certainly the most coherent piece written so far about what's happening with Believe and I encourage you to read it:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/ne ... full.story
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 10/11/08 02:12 AM

Not sure about the riot part but a sort of magician's duel, as in the latter part of the movie "The Prestige" might be fun for audiences and good for both of them. IMHO this could work well given their basic branding is distinct.

Now as to which if either could take the stage and do a better Hamlet...


[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]Does that include the segment of the film where the antagonist magician is hanged??[/size][/font] :grin:
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/11/08 02:36 AM

Wonderful - somebody who hates magic directing a magic show ... and the clash of egos behind the scenes as to who gets the credit.

Now the blame game backstage is who's responsible for the mess.

If anything is going to kill something - it's going to be the politics.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/11/08 10:39 AM

If they're going to be doing Lidsville as a vehicle for Criss using the Cirque dancers as creatures instead of hats ... why not get some help from the the Krofts and their writers? IMHO Criss is as amicable as Butch Patrick and there are enough celebrities in the area to drop in for the fun of the evil magician and the genii. For all we know, dark pshycho stuff that hit the comics in the 80s will be nostalgia in a few years and like Grease this show could run for a long time.
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Postby Mark Paulson » 10/11/08 11:11 AM

Aw, c'mon. Eddie Munster isn't a bad guy. He's as amicable as Ken Weatherwax (who seems much more amicable than Criss).
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/12/08 07:07 AM

And now we have magicians climbing on the bandwagon... perhaps the air they breathe is somewhat different in New Zealand...

Taken from MagicNZ:

15. Alfred Hayes Pays Tribute To Ross Skiffington

Message from Alfred Hayes (Aust)

It's sad when we so often see how "Home Grown" is thought far less of and about, than the lesser quality "Imports". This is especially true in the entertainment field. I refer to the item last week (Issue #611) regards the abhorent poor quality of
magical presentation in Cirque Du Soleil "Believe".We must, obviously, call to task the Producer/s first, then the Director, especially when, as we are led to believe, cost some $USD85 million to stage. In Australasia, we are blessed to have
one of the finest theatre illusionists, and entertainer, home grown in New Zealand and now resident in Oztralia - He is an Actor with numerous Theatre and TV shows behind him; has, with his long time theatrical Company, been 'exported' overseas by the Australian Government to perform; as an actor/magician in a
Shakesphere production touring the UK (both representing this area of the world); a Director employed overseas by 'foreign' Government. The list of achievements goes on and on and continues. In Australia he conceived, Produced, Directed and built, together with his mechanist, a remarkable "Magic Circus" which was, without question, an outstanding success, breaking new ground in the entertainment field but, alas, alarmingly, to us 'locals' he is not appreciated or as respected as he should be.

Without question, if he had been the magician featured in "Believe" (rather than a so called "name" personality), with his vast theatrical knowledge both 'on stage' and 'off stage' (lighting, staging, music, etc), I'm absolutely certain that the
show would have been not only up to the high standard Cirque Du Soleil usually produce, but an exceptional major success and theatrical achievement.

Who is this amazing personality that I personally have the highest regard for, both as an entertainer encompassing magic, mixed with high ethics ... well ... He is going to be at the New Zealand 29th Convention of Magicians in Auckland, 27Dec-31Dec'08
... Ross Skiffington of The Ross Skiffington Grand Magic Company.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/14/08 02:17 AM

And it continues:

http://lasvegas.craigslist.org/rnr/869038351.html

"Starts off well enough, a few clownish types from Cirque de Solei doing some fairly entertaining audience participation slapstick. Yeah, I get it...the warm up act. But when the show finally started and Criss made his appearance, the first thing I noticed wasn't him, but a lack of "energy" in the audience. It was almost like they had an intuitive hit that this thing might not be what they paid for.

You first start scratching your head when his POV camera person, some long-haired African American she/male, mysteriously gets irate at him and stomps off stage. He calls her a "bitch" (I noticed a few moms covering the ears of the kids they brought to the show) and proceeds with his schtick. After a ho-hum homage to traditional illusionist fare, producing white pidgeons from a hankey and that sort of thing, he then sets up a redux of the Tesla Coil stunt he did in the first season of his show - that supposedly resulted in some nerve damage he carries to this day. A badly feigned "accident" ensues, with macabre and graphic footage of him being wheeled away on a hospital gurney, burned flesh hanging off his face.

"What the hell is this", I'm thinking.

I wasn't alone, as the audience response to all this so far has been, well, reserved is putting it lightly. I'm almost feeling nervous for Criss because it feels, yes, that's the feeling, like the overture for a real stinker of a show. "

This laboured, herky jerky and puzzling show dragged on for almost two hours. As much as I had been looking forward to it, I was breathlessly relieved when it was over. Mr. Angel thanked the audience and then proferred a bizarre apologia to the audience; something to the effect that "this is called a soft opening, that we are still working some things out to see what flies with the audience and what doesn't..."

"I'd seen something on that stage that I had never seen Criss Angel do in his cable series - die in front of an audience. I got the sad and creepy feeling that I was looking at a Jersey Boy Got Famous, who had shot his wad and was now desperately grabbing at a new career in drama to supplant it. I hope I'm wrong, but the scuttlebutt about the guy I hear seeping out of the entertainment press is hinting that I'm not.

If you were planning to see this show, I'd save your money and go see one of the six other Cirque De Solei performances around the strip. At least you know what you'll be getting. "

Ouch !
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Postby Timothy Hyde » 10/14/08 06:21 AM

As is usually the case
in threads such as this
the continual sniping
reveals more about the author
than it does about the subject
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Postby MaxNY » 10/14/08 07:45 PM

Tim, the Craig's List Rant has provided the most accurate descriptions of storyline yet...
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Postby Tim Ellis » 10/14/08 08:00 PM

Alfred Hayes wrote:It's sad when we so often see how "Home Grown" is thought far less of and about, than the lesser quality "Imports". This is especially true in the entertainment field.



In the case of 'Believe', isn't Criss Angel the "Home Grown" performer?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/14/08 08:30 PM

it's LonGisland not nujoisey... my gawd where did he learn to listen?

How's Lidsville doing?
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Postby Nathan » 10/14/08 08:42 PM

So Timothy, are you saying the show is probably good and all the bad reviews are because of the reviewers and not the show? Seems unfair to be sniping at reviewers that have seen the show when you haven't, but I guess that says alot about you and not them.

Ross Skiffington to replace Criss Angel, that's possibly the funniest thing I have ever heard, Alfred Hayes has certainly mastered the age old art of illogical sycophantic hero worship. Jerky dancing, illusions with the thickest bases ever seen, try hard Vegas dancers and an imitation Origami, I think I'll stick to Criss Angel thanks.

Tim, yes it would seem that Criss is the home grown star, perhaps that's why all the reviews are bad, or perhaps the show just isn't any good yet (note use of word YET).
I think Alfred's point was that Ross isn't appreciated here in Australia, but has Alfred actually seen the calibre of Australian Magicians? When he has, perhaps he'll understand why Ross isn't heralded as brilliant as Alfred likes to think.

Back to Believe tho', I'll start taking notice of the reviews once the show officially opens, isn't that what sensible people do?
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Postby Timothy Hyde » 10/14/08 09:19 PM

Nathan, no, I think the show is probably god awful, but like you I will start taking more notice when it officially opens.

I'm just disappointed in the apparent glee some on this forum have
in it's apparent downward spiral.

Timothy

P.S. welcome to the Forum
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/15/08 02:37 AM

"I'm just disappointed in the apparent glee some on this forum have in it's apparent downward spiral."

Hi Timothy

Sure - you are always going to have a minority few who take delight in others downfall - but I do believe the majority of readers on the forum are astute enough to realise that Believe could only have been good for magic if it was a runaway success. The show was heralded as the 'next big revolution' and Cirque were to take magic to a 'whole new level' ... clearly that is not a likely outcome at present.

Do remember - that nearly ALL the initial reviews we've seen thus far are from lay audiences - the one's whose view counts most ... and an instant barometer of measuring the pulse / buzz surrounding the show as and when it happens.

The most recent review even made mention that the audience somehow seemed aware of all the negative buzz preceding the show.

No matter what happens in the end - Believe is going to be studied at length by all concerned in time to come - by Cirque, by MGM Mirage and by the magic community ...
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Postby Mark W. Nelson » 10/15/08 03:29 PM

If the reactions of the critics are to be believed, then maybe the best thing to do is to have Larry Wilson pull his WONDERLAND show out of mothballs and put it into that space at the Luxor!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/15/08 05:09 PM

Bite your tongue Mark: That show was awful!
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Postby Ian Kendall » 10/15/08 05:43 PM

Hee - I was just reading about that show in an old Magic...

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Postby Ray T. Stott » 10/15/08 11:18 PM

IMHO Criss is as amicable as Butch Patrick and there are enough celebrities in the area to drop in for the fun of the evil magician and the genii.


[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]Based upon this man's public and behind the curtains deportment he certainly well deserves the stage limelight.

Although I am uncertain if that stage success would be as a magician or as a static exhibit in a large jar of formaldehyde.
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Postby David Vamer » 10/16/08 04:50 PM

When someone belittles everyone else in his field, he'd better be able to produce. Muhammed Ali comes to mind. He was able to back his words up with actions.

Criss, thus far, has not.

It's not that people want him to fail, or take glee in his comeuppance. It's a matter of Criss not being able to back up his braggadocio.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 10/16/08 09:42 PM

[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]I agree with you completely.
There has been a minimum of commentary on this thread that could be called truly mean spirited.

That being said, there has been at least one member, whose, in my personal opinion, comments seem to adhere to the,[color:#FF0000] " It is not sufficient to win, but, rather, someone else must lose"[/color] school of philosophy.

Your comment on his comeuppance is idealized in the maxim about not letting your mouth write a check that you a$$ is unable to cash.

Metaphorically speaking of course.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/22/08 02:09 PM

From the LVRJ:

Days away from the Halloween launch of Cirque du Soleil's $100 million gamble on magic, Criss Angel is convinced he has a monster hit.

That's not just his confidence showing.

"Ultimately it's up to the public, and the public has spoken," the Luxor headliner said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Advance ticket sales have been so robust, said Angel, that "I believe we're beating 'Love' and 'O' and every Cirque show, and we're now the No. 1 or No. 1 best-selling show in Vegas."

It wasn't planned this way, but "Criss Angel Believe" will open on the 82nd anniversary of the death of his hero, Harry Houdini.

The show title comes from one of Houdini's last conversation with his wife.

"After my death, many people will claim that they are still able to communicate with me. If their claims are valid, they will be able to tell you a code word. That word is believe."

Angel has faith that his collaboration with Cirque will win over the disbelievers.

"I mean no disrespect to the Review-Journal," he said, referring to some critical accounts of preview shows. "But it doesn't really matter what you, the Review-Journal, Criss Angel or (director) Serge Denoncourt think."

The public is all that matters, he said. "They're the ones that made me the No. 1 show on television and made me the No. 1 Cirque show in Vegas."

Opening night was delayed a month, he said, mainly because of the Jan. 28 fire at the nearby Monte Carlo.

"It created challenges in ways you can never imagine, and I'm not talking about artistic challenges" he said. "All the fire codes they had in place were then changed. Public safety is paramount, but it delayed us. We went over budget and over the time limit."

Gone from the show will be the song he performed near the end during previews.

"I did the 'Mindfreak' song because so many millions who watched the show know the words," he said. But it was only there because the show-ending illusion wasn't ready.

Not that Angel can't sing. He's been involved in music longer than magic. He was the lead singer of a New York rock band that had "one of the biggest followings," he said.

But he found the music industry "incredibly fickle."

He decided to concentrate on magic and incorporate his own music into it. He has five CDs of his own music in "Mindfreak," his popular TV show on A & E.

The anniversary of Houdini's death adds a "Twilight Zone" element to opening night.

"It ties in beautifully," said Angel. "You have to tip your hat to the past to go into the future."
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/22/08 03:41 PM

"The public is all that matters, [Angel] said. 'They're the ones that made me the No. 1 show on television and made me the No. 1 Cirque show in Vegas'."

Huh? According to who?
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Postby curtisk » 10/22/08 04:46 PM

The public is all that matters, he said. "They're the ones that made ME the No. 1 show on television and made ME the No. 1 Cirque show in Vegas."

Wow, this guy is all about subtle and humble, notice it's "ME" not "us". So he performs the cirque show single handedly? What a chooch...
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Postby Mark W. Nelson » 10/23/08 03:47 PM

"MINDFREAK" is the number one show on television? Using what criteria, I wonder?
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Postby Terry » 10/23/08 04:29 PM

curtisk wrote:The public is all that matters, he said. "They're the ones that made ME the No. 1 show on television and made ME the No. 1 Cirque show in Vegas."

Wow, this guy is all about subtle and humble, notice it's "ME" not "us". So he performs the cirque show single handedly? What a chooch...



He's a real legend in his own mind.
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Postby Tim Ellis » 10/23/08 05:39 PM

Some people in here think Criss is #2
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Postby magicman1953 » 10/23/08 05:57 PM

Was that show on tv last night aww I missed it shucks...
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Postby David Vamer » 10/24/08 03:42 AM

If you repeat a lie often enough, people wil start to beLIEve it.
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Postby chipper » 10/24/08 05:25 AM

beEGOve
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/26/08 10:10 AM

A magician's take on the show with some detail on the individual illusions:

http://www.magicweek.co.uk/magic_review ... l_2008.htm

"Also the financiers need to keep faith and Criss needs to listen to people. Cirque don't do failure and the show will get masses of artistic support. I fear though for the magical content. They need the strongest team possible and allegedly Criss is running out of magical allies, so we shall see.

Then there is the media and the internet. Bad reviews can bury the show and they havent started off well. I just hope, when the full show reviews start to appear after the premiere on 31 October, that they are more favourable. I am a fan of both Cirque and Criss Angel and would really like the show to be the one we were all promised. That really would be something to behold and worth traveling across eight time zones to see. So I wait in hope but in conclusion it must be said the early signs are not the best."
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 10/26/08 11:04 AM

David Vamer wrote:If you repeat a lie often enough, people wil start to beLIEve it.



That is called 'The Big Lie' it was defined by Hitler in his 1925 book Mein Kampf as a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.

It's a proganda technique.
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