Blaine copies Paul Zenon

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Postby Guest » 05/26/02 10:27 AM

No-one from the U.S. side of the pond seems to realise that Blaine seems to be 'lifting' a large amount of material from British magician Paul Zenon. Paul has had several hour-long specials on Channel 4 in the UK. In the first, which was broadcast in 1998, he made a guy's watch vanish and reappear in a locked jeweller's store window. In the second 1999), he removed objects from inside locked cars by pulling them 'through' the glass windows. In the third (2000), he caused a wine glass to flip over and smash by 'concentrating' on it. He also made someone's finger ring disappear by 'accidentally' dropping it down a sewer grate. Sound familiar? Zenon originated all these effects yet has received no acknowledgement from Blaine.
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Postby dwmagic » 05/26/02 10:32 AM

Are the tapes of the shows available? would love to see the difference/similarities.
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Postby Elwood » 05/26/02 10:49 AM

Paul Zenon was a guest in the MagicTricks.co.uk forum a couple of months ago if anyone wants to take a look.

In the UK Zenon is quite well known, and receives a lot of TV coverage, although sadly he is not as recognisable or as talked about as Blaine, which is a real shame, as Paul has a unique comedy approach to magic, and is a very entertaining performer. He regularly appears at both comedy clubs and at various functions as a magician/compere throughout the UK and Europe.

Paul's Street Magic shows on Channel 4 were very good, and a lot of Blaine's stuff is VERY similar (except Paul is a bit more lighthearted in his approach!)

Paul's website is HERE!
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Postby Robert McDaniel » 05/27/02 06:48 PM

Now I'm beginning to think that aside from resorting to camera tricks and expensive staging, David Blaine is actually stealing from other (lesser known in the U.S.) magicians. That's pretty low down. And it seems that some magicians were starting to give him a break, including me. At least until they heard about this. Thanks, Sue.

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Postby Guest » 05/27/02 07:17 PM

A couple of people over here wrote to Magic Magazine in the States a while ago pointing out Blaine's 'appropriations' but their editorial staff chose to ignore it; it seems that only comments from U.S. magicians are given any credence in their letters page. The only debate about Blaine seems to be with regard to his performance style; no-one seems to give a damn about his ethics.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/27/02 08:06 PM

Ahem ... no one seems to have written to Genii about this! Sue ... are you there?
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Postby Guest » 05/27/02 08:25 PM

Sure, would be more than happy to supply details if it's of interest.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/27/02 08:36 PM

Sue, add your e-mail address to your profile so I can contact you directly.
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Postby Guest » 05/27/02 10:07 PM

Done so, I think.
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Postby Guest » 05/27/02 11:32 PM

Sue,

Next thing you're gonna tell is is that Houdini stole all his stuff from Cirnoc, huh?
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Postby Guest » 05/28/02 12:25 AM

I must admit, I've only ever seen one Paul Zenon show because his style never appealed to me either. And a camera once caught his every cup and ball load in a Gloria Hunniford chat show interview. It could be said that he started to adopt Blaine's street walking style,AFTER the success of the first Blaine special, but on watching Vertigo I did get that deja vu feeling when watching the idea of the watch in the shop window.

Putting the hand through the window to get the watch back was a good climax to the effect, I think Paul Zenon just walked off and left it there! :)

Sure, Zenon apparently put his hand through a car window to remove a tax disc, but it was a different trick. People have been pushed through glass or pushed other objects through glass for years. Coincidence, but with the watch in window effect it does suggest Blaine has seen Zenon.

And what was all that funny walking, and falling over about? John Cleese did it so much better (Blaine copies Monty Python, lol)

Blaine's most dangerous stunt in the show was probably riding the tiny bicycle through the streets of New York :)

Coincidentally, the people around the table with the glass that broke were not your average people, I recognized the one that spoke as Brit. softcore porn model Dawn McKenzie. But I may be the only one that admits that, lol.

I thought it ironic Christopher Reeve said Blaine was inspirational to us all for his pole standing stunt, it is Chris Reeve who is inspirational to us all.

Without the silly walking (performance art?)and clips from old shows (?) it might have made a good 30 minute show. Top marks for publicity, he did get news coverage worldwide.

Paul.
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Postby Tom Stone » 05/28/02 04:59 AM

Originally posted by Sue Reed:
He also made someone's finger ring disappear by 'accidentally' dropping it down a sewer grate. Sound familiar?
Yes. Some years ago, J.J. (Opus) told me about this bit, that was invented by one of the street performers in the Bath Bizarre Walk. I've got the impression that Zenon used it without permission.

Which doesn't surprise me, since he also nicked the ending from Johnny Lonn's stage act.
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Postby Guest » 05/28/02 11:07 AM

Paul Zenon does seem to take anything he likes and
perform it.I saw him live doing the 'cut and restored microphone lead'Exactly like the late David Nixon did it on ITV'S 'Hero's of Magic'
And I'm sure I saw the first Blaine special before the Paul Zenon T.V.show....
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Postby Guest » 05/28/02 11:17 AM

The phrase "pot calling the kettle black" springs to mind. Seems our famous magicians are just like the majority of magicians out there....
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Postby Elwood » 05/28/02 11:25 AM

I take it that we should only ever perform a trick if we invented it ourselves?!

Hmmm, that should reduce the number of magicians somewhat...
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Postby Guest » 05/28/02 11:30 AM

re;
I take it that we should only ever perform a trick if we invented it ourselves?!

Not at all. I think how we aquire the effect may be relevant. :)

Paul.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/28/02 01:19 PM

I have heard that after David Blaine's first TV special "Street Magic" aired, Paul Zenon copied it. While I don't know all the details here, it would seem that justice may have been done. There is no need for Blaine to steal material: he buys it ... we know he does, because we've had confirmation that he paid Anders for his soda can trick. Why would he pay for one person's idea and steal another? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
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Postby Guest » 05/28/02 05:07 PM

Well Richard, if you don't have all the details, maybe you shouldn't be so judgemental about it.
While I would much rather be spending my time more constructively, I am replying to this series of posts as I have had a deluge of emails, mostly from British magicians, asking for my feedback. Here is the story:
The pilot for my Channel 4 TV show 'Paul Zenon Turning Tricks' aired in the UK almost a year before the first David Blaine special; I went out for a drink in London with him three months before my show was screened. In the programme I made spectators watches vanish, and they appeared inside the window of a closed jewellers store. Several months later, I recorded an hour-long special with the same title, in which I made someone's finger ring disappear by dropping down a grate. This was an idea I came up with myself; (apparently a similar idea was used on a tourist walk in the city of Bath which I was/am completely unaware of until the above posts; I have never been on the aforementioned walk, but the tour guide is a magician/comedian called Noel Britten, who I would count as a friend. He has never mentioned anything about the concept to me. I came up with my idea after reading about a cruise ship performer who used to apparently throw passengers keys overboard).
In my second hour-long special, I performed an effect where I apparently pulled tax disks through the glass of car windscreens. Someone else has linked that concept to Blaine reaching through the jewellers store window - not me.
In my third special, I featured a routine where a wine glass next to the one that the spectators are concentrating on falls over and smashes.
Tapes of all my shows were sent to David Blaine by Channel 4 after he personally requested them two years ago - fact.
Re Tom Stone's comment that I 'nicked' Johnny Lonn's vanishing radio gag, this has already been discussed on the magictricks.co.uk forum. This is very boring, but I'm obliged to reiterate the facts (Tom Stone was given the chance to respond to my original comments but declined, prefering instead to post the same drivel on a different website where presumably he assumed I wouldn't see it). The fact is that I have never seen Johnny Lonn perform (nor heard of him until your tactless accusation); surprisingly, as a Swedish silent performer, though I'm assured he's very good, he's not a household name in England. Apparently he performs a gag where an old-fashioned radio is supposed to disappear but instead just falls to the ground. I performed a similar 15 second gag with a 'ghettoblaster' in one of my specials...along with around 50 other tricks, gags and stunts. Making a total of around 150 in the 3 recent specials, and maybe 200 routines that I've performed on television over the past few years. Now what would be amazing is if, out of those, no-one accused me of stealing anything. You are the first, incidentally.
Thankyou too, Paul Hallas for your kind comments; look forward to reviewing your next TV show.
Best wishes everyone, what a brotherhood this is!
Looking forward to the rest of the hate mail.
Paul Zenon x
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Postby Scott » 05/28/02 06:05 PM

Ouch, gotta hate that. Nothing like getting kicked between the legs from the guy who's being insulted.

This cracks me up. Nice job Mr. Zenon! If I'm ever in your neck of the woods, I owe you a beer!

Oh, that's right....no one else on this post has ever had a t.v. special......how perfectly fitting.

Mr. Zenon (if you ever come back to view this post), do you have any plans to release any videos in the US market any time soon? I've heard great things about your work for years.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 05/28/02 07:18 PM

Originally posted by Scott:
Oh, that's right....no one else on this post has ever had a t.v. special......how perfectly fitting.
I don't know anything about the rest of this thread, but I have to respond to this comment. Apparently, many people think that, in order to comment or criticize someone who's been on TV, you need to have been on TV yourself.

What a load of horse-pooey.

I've seen comments like this in relation to just about everyone who's had a TV special and who has been criticized by viewers. Blaine, Copperfield, and now...Zenon. It's not the first, and certainly not the last time I'll hear comments like this. The people who say it somehow think that it automatically renders the criticism ineffective.

Yes, some degree of knowledge is expected when criticizing something. But by no stretch of the imagination do you need to have actually done that something. For example: suppose someone who has never in their life seen a magic show and has absolutely no knowledge of magic whatsoever sees a television performer screw up a sleight. "He's no good at magic," the man says. "I saw what he did there." The reply: "So what? You've never been on TV, so who are you to judge him?" Ridiculous? Yeah.

And, of course, the comment is particularly irrelevant when the actual discussion has very little to do with being on TV, and much more to do with a sense of ethics. Big difference.

<end of rant>

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Postby Tom Stone » 05/28/02 08:16 PM

Originally posted by Paul Zenon:
(Tom Stone was given the chance to respond to my original comments but declined, prefering instead to post the same drivel on a different website where presumably he assumed I wouldn't see it).
You ended your reply there by asking me about my behaviour when I cross the street, which sounded like a desperate attempt to diffuse the topic.
With one day left, and knowing that all questions was screened, I didn't see any point in pursuing neither the topic itself nor my habits in traffic.
Whether you see my "drivel" or not doesn't concern me much.
The fact is that I have never seen Johnny Lonn perform (nor heard of him until your tactless accusation)
And I find that hard to believe, since Johnny Lonn has appeared at countless conventions in England (Blackpool, Ron McMillan's, etc.) during the last 25-30 years. And been a guest in Paul Daniel's TV-shows.
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Postby Guest » 05/28/02 09:09 PM

To Tom Stone:I ended my reply then by making a light-hearted comment about the fact that you posted the same message three times, and asked if you were the same guy that pushes the pedestrian crossing button repeatedly in the hope that it will make the lights change more quickly. That was an attempt to diffuse the malevolence of your comments, not to avoid the subject. You were asked directly by the moderator for a response to my posting re your accusations so I fail to see how you thought that you would somehow not get through if you replied. I was guesting on the magictricks.co.uk forum for a week to answer the various visiting magicians questions, giving my time and energy free of charge in the hope that it might be of interest or benefit to someone. Thankyou for using the situation so constructively. And your friend Johnny Lonn has performed at some British magic conventions? Well I wonder how I could have missed him? I have performed around 30 shows in the United States; should I assume that everyone there has seen my act? As you seem to be devoid of humor or reason, let me put it this way: if you continue to accuse me of theft of intellectual property, I will take legal action you for deformation of character and damage to professional reputation. Is that clear enough, or do you think I am trying to avoid the subject?
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Postby Andy Hurst » 05/28/02 09:33 PM

I've seen all the Paul Zenon specials, but despite any similar tricks that Blaine might have done, I don't think 'copying' is the word.

Paul Zenons TV specials were entertaining, he has character, the magic and comedy were both great - how can Paul Zennon and Blaine even be compared?

I hope the Zennon specials get shown or made available in the US soon. I had to have my family in the UK send tapes.
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Postby Tom Stone » 05/28/02 09:39 PM

Originally posted by Paul Zenon:
let me put it this way: if you continue to accuse me of theft of intellectual property, I will take legal action you for deformation of character and damage to professional reputation. Is that clear enough, or do you think I am trying to avoid the subject?
Right on schedule; the "legal action" gambit.

I've seen no reason to change opinion, so go ahead then.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/02 01:05 AM

Originally posted by Paul Zenon:
The pilot for my Channel 4 TV show 'Paul Zenon Turning Tricks' aired in the UK almost a year before the first David Blaine special;
Paul, since you have posted the facts on that then I apologise for suggesting otherwise, the show I saw of yours was obviously a repeat. It's nice to know a Brit was the very first TV street magician. I's surprised you can't milk that more.

I would hardly call my post "hate mail," I would hardly get passionate about you or your show. I certainly don't hate anyone. For the record the watch in window and tax disc effects were gems. But I'm sure their there are plenty of magicians whose style doesn't appeal to you. I heard you got hit by someone whose watch you were trying to steal while filming one show so your style may not have appealed to that person if that is true, and that in one show you revealed a tattoo of a card on your arse. Which is quite funny but would not appeal to some.

No, I have not had a tv special and I doubt I ever will now (once made local radio though, lol)but then I don't actively seek it and am too old for youth TV. I would certainly not go on Gloria Hunniford if asked :) .

Just because something is on TV doesn't make it the be all and end all. Or have you never seen any crap TV programmes? If not you don't have the telly on mate, usually channel 4 or 5.

Blimey, some people didn't like Paul Daniel's style and he had a SERIES every year for over 10 years. I personally always liked P.D and found it a watchable show. THAT was success.

If you want to hit me or have a beer at the British Ring, I'll be there. x

Paul Hallas

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Postby Guest » 05/29/02 01:10 AM

I've seen all of Blaine's specials and a tape of one of Zenon's specials and I agree that they can't be compared. Blaine's were entertaining and Zenon's put me to sleep. But perhaps the fault lied in the cultural differences between the English audience and the American audience. It's hard to get great reactions from subjects who are intent on keeping a stiff upper lip. Even the racetrack tout in Zenon's tape was sanitized and ho-hum. Maybe Paul should do some taping in more exotic and dangerous locations in and around London.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/02 07:00 AM

All right! I'll be the one to ask: What the f*** is a tax disc?!
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Postby Andy Hurst » 05/29/02 07:19 AM

Originally posted by John Blaze:
All right! I'll be the one to ask: What the f*** is a tax disc?!
In the UK, you pay Road Tax and to prove you've got it you get a paper disc with the expiry date on it and have to display it in the window of your car.

It goes in the same position as a vehicle inspection sticker does in the US states that require them.

Hope that helps

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Postby Andy Hurst » 05/29/02 07:25 AM

Originally posted by Oofty Goofty:
I've seen all of Blaine's specials and a tape of one of Zenon's specials and I agree that they can't be compared. Blaine's were entertaining and Zenon's put me to sleep. But perhaps the fault lied in the cultural differences between the English audience and the American audience. It's hard to get great reactions from subjects who are intent on keeping a stiff upper lip.
Which of Zenon's specials did you see? I am originally from the UK but have shown the tapes to a few of my magician friends here and none of them had any problem with 'cultural difference'

Paul got great responses from the people he performed on, and not many (if any) of them were 'stiff upper lip types'.

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Postby Guest » 05/29/02 08:39 AM

Paul Zenon:
"The pilot for my Channel 4 TV show 'Paul Zenon Turning Tricks' aired in the UK almost a year before the first David Blaine special"

Err... well, to start with, that's not true.

May 97 Blaine's "Street Magic" airs in US
November 98 Zenon's half hour "Comedy Lab" show airs in UK
December 98 Blaine's "Street Magic" airs in UK
April 99 Zenon's first one hour special airs in UK

Hello Paul. In Blaine's "Street Magic" special he made a card appear in a shop window. Eighteen months later you made a watch appear in a shop window. Similar? Sort of... but nobody is accusing you of ripping him off.
Noel Britten came up with the idea of dropping a ring down a drain a LONG time ago -he does it when it's raining and he can't use the vanish that he normally uses. He probably hasn't mentioned it to you as he is a little more humble than you and probably realises that it's quite feasible that two people could come up with similar ideas independantly.
So what if Blaine has been inspired by a couple of things that you've done? Him and his team paved the way for your shows and significant elements from "Street Magic" were carried over directly into your specials. The way the cameras focus on audience reactions, the way we often see the same trick several times... that sort of thing. Like it or not, Blaine did it first. You may have thought about it or pitched a similar format to channel 4 but old iceman beat you to it. It seems that you (and Derren Brown and Paul McKenna on "Hyp the Streets") have benefited from taking large elements of the format of Blaine's shows and he has returned the compliment by lifting a couple of "your" ideas. Get over it. Someone ought to bang your heads together.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/02 02:13 PM

Shouldnt that be "Defamation" of character ?
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/29/02 02:17 PM

I'm coming to the conclusion that we are all deformed characters.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/02 02:19 PM

A vast majority of ordinary people have only the TV special view of our magical world. How different would be there perception if they had the opportunity to spend some time in the company of real entertainers ?
As a musician I soon realised that the best musician in the recording field was the Producer
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Postby Scott » 05/29/02 06:28 PM

Jim, what I was referring to was that it seems if you have a t.v. special, then you will inevitably be picked apart for performing someone elses trick. So, unless you spend 30 minutes of your 1 hour show rolling credits and paying off widows and orphans who's great grandpa invented something you used, you're seen to be a target.

However, if you perform at the local pub for money and perform those same tricks, you're somehow above it all, or below it all.

So, every time you (rhetorically) do a spellbound change do you pay royalties? Each time you do a Marlo card routine (with your own patter and one slight modification so you can fool yourself into thinking you've created something), do you pay his widow? Perhaps you stop after each table and tell everyone who the credits go to on the tricks you just performed for money. What? You don't do that? Then why should anyone on t.v. be expected to?

It's no different, except for the sum of money being paid to the magician. But for some reason, it's taken to a new level when someone on t.v. does something before/after anyone else.

As Paul Zenon said, this was all discussed on another board and I take him at his word. If the knife throwing could stop long enough, perhaps Richard could get a heck of a story out of it for a future Genii article.

Surely there is enough controversy in this one thread to write a 3 page article.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/02 06:41 PM

Scott said:
"It's no different, except for the sum of money being paid to the magician. But for some reason, it's taken to a new level when someone on t.v. does something before/after anyone else."

That is a valid observation. Also on web forums idle chat can be taken to new levels to appear to be something else.

Paul.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 05/29/02 07:20 PM

Originally posted by Scott:
Jim, what I was referring to was that it seems if you have a t.v. special, then you will inevitably be picked apart for performing someone elses trick. So, unless you spend 30 minutes of your 1 hour show rolling credits and paying off widows and orphans who's great grandpa invented something you used, you're seen to be a target.
While it's true that you have a greater chance of being picked apart when you perform on TV, there is no need to have 30 minutes of credits in an hour show (yes, I realize that was an exaggeration). The usual amount of time spent on credits is generally enough to cover all the people that you need to credit.

However, if you perform at the local pub for money and perform those same tricks, you're somehow above it all, or below it all.
No you're not. You have just as much an obligation to pay for perfomance rights & give credit no matter where you perform. You're just less likely to get caught if you slip up in a smaller venue.

So, every time you (rhetorically) do a spellbound change do you pay royalties? Each time you do a Marlo card routine (with your own patter and one slight modification so you can fool yourself into thinking you've created something), do you pay his widow? Perhaps you stop after each table and tell everyone who the credits go to on the tricks you just performed for money. What? You don't do that? Then why should anyone on t.v. be expected to?
First off, there is no royalty system set up in the magic world. It would be nice if there was -- creators would profit more from their ideas, hopefully. However, since there is not, there is no obligation to pay royalties. However, you ARE obligated (in my opinion) to pay for performance rights to that effect. In most cases, this is as simple as buying a book or video where it was explained with the permission of the creator. In other cases, you may need to work out a deal with the creator. If, as in your example, you use a Marlo routine from one of his books that you have purchased, then there is no reason to pay his widow. By buying the book, you have paid for the performance rights. (Some may disagree with that...my belief is that it was put in print for people to use, so they should use it.)

Secondly, there is no reason to rattle off credits after leaving a table. Credits are generally resevered for those people who have worked directly on whatever show was produced. I don't think if you pick up a book/video and learn an effect from it that you are obligated to credit that person during or after a performance. If, however, that person works with you personally to teach you that effect and perfect it for that show, then yes, you are obligated to credit them, I think.

It's no different, except for the sum of money being paid to the magician. But for some reason, it's taken to a new level when someone on t.v. does something before/after anyone else.
The other difference, as I have already mentioned, is that more people see the television performance (generally), and you are therefore more likely to be caught. A similar analogy would be if a well-known rock star performed another star's song and some guy in a local coffeehouse performing that same song. If neither have paid for the rights to the song, then they are both wrong -- it's just more likely that the rock star will get caught and be criticized then the local guy. I agree, though, that it can sometimes be blown out of proportion. Just like, as Paul Hallas mentioned, idle chat on a wed forum can be.

As Paul Zenon said, this was all discussed on another board and I take him at his word. If the knife throwing could stop long enough, perhaps Richard could get a heck of a story out of it for a future Genii article.
I've purposely refrained from commenting on this specific situation, as I don't know much about it. It would be interesting to find out the whole story, though.

Surely there is enough controversy in this one thread to write a 3 page article.
At least!

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 05/31/02 12:42 PM

Despite having read the thread about 3 times, I am struggling to grasp why we are angry at paul zenon, seroiusly, can someone explain?
And anyway, do we have several t.v. specials?
Are we more famous amongst laymen than the likes of vernon, marlo bobo and hugard?
and when you buy a trick and perform it, do you consider yourself to be stealing there effects?
James
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/31/02 08:50 PM

I really don't think anyone is picking on Paul Zenon here. What IS happening is that someone came on this forum and made a posting that David Blaine had stolen material from Paul Zenon. Then, others came on to dispute that claim, and it goes back and forth.
I think the posting that gives the timeline of when the Blaine and Zenon TV shows actually aired helps clear things up a little.
Unless someone from Blaine's camp, or Blaine himself, cares to comment on this, I really don't see any benefit in continuing the back and forth.
Further comments?
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Postby Guest » 06/01/02 02:14 AM

So why does paul seem angry with us?
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Postby Guest » 06/01/02 02:58 AM

re;
"So why does paul seem angry with us?"

Publicity? Raising awareness of him?
Taking either us or himself too seriously.

Sue Reed, are you connected to Paul in some way?

As Richard implied, this topic has probably gone as far as it could or should anyway.

Paul (not Zenon) Hallas.
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