I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alain was not hired to do an imitation of Chris's show, nor were any of Criss's ideas incorporated. I would be very interested in specific examples of what ideas Criss originated that were integrated into our specials. Many of the pivotal plots and ideas had been in Alain's professional performances and in print for many years. The show was pitched by Mike Mathis productions to TLC as "Feats, Stunts and Demonstrations." Mathis, an amateur magician, asked Alan Hayden who would be the best young, hip and imensly talented and original magician for such a show. Hayden nominated Alain Nu. At that point, there was no idea how to structure the show or what material it contained. I don't think that Mathis, an independent producer, had talked to Criss, though I can't say what goes on behind the scenes at TLC.Criss shopped Mindfreak to a number of networks, one of them was the Discovery Channel. The deal was eventually made with A&E, but in the process the concept of the series was explained in detail (including many of the planned effects and stunts) to the bidding networks.
After losing the bidding, Discovery then put together a series of four TV shows using ideas from Mindfreak and hired Al Nu to be the performer.
Criss was angry about this.
That's the real backstory here.
Alain called me literally from his car after the initial interview and asked if I would join up as technical/creative advisor. He also got Bob Sheets, Bob Fitch, and Sam Haine, and Alan Hayden sat in the first brainstorming sessions.
We brainstormed for two days, and wrote down every idea we had. We ran the ideas by Mathis, who asked us for more. This was a theme throughout the entire project; they constantly wanted more ideas. At no time were we given ideas by Mathis or anyone connected to TLC. Everything we concocted came from us.
I recall when Criss called Alain, the call was so unbelievable and out-of-the blue we were stunned. I think Criss assumed that TLC was going to use his ideas; the truth is that we started from scratch with a pad of paper and five guys who wanted to create something that had never been done before: a truly cultured presentation of mentalism, that went beyond the strictly cerebral format of previous ones. We wanted to appeal to the viewer's emotions.
Unfortunatley, a lot of the emotional hooks we designed were shot down by the producers, although a dim whisper of some of the original intent survived.
So I would like to go on record as saying that Criss Angel had nothing to do with the creation of the four Alain Nu specials. I would like to say once again that I would be extremely interested in specific examples of plagerism on our part from Criss's initial pitch.
With all best intentions,