Uri Geller/Criss Angel Phenomenon to debut on Oct.24

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/06/07 05:36 PM

This was posted on Reality TV World, and I found it through Magictimes.com

NBC's new Uri Geller/Criss Angel 'Phenomenon' to debut October 24

By Christopher Rocchio, 09/27/2007

NBC has announced Phenomenon, a new reality competition series that will follow mentalist Uri Geller and Criss Angel Mindfreak illusionist Criss Angel as they search for "the next great mentalist," will premiere on Wednesday, October 24 at 8PM ET/PT.

Phenomenon is based on a popular Israeli reality competition series called The Successor, which premiered earlier this year and featured Geller as a judge and mentor.

He'll be joined by Angel for the previously announced NBC adaptation, which will follow a similar format to The Successor with 10 contestants competing each week and having their acts tested through a series of challenges in-front of a panel of celebrity guest judges as well as a studio audience.

While Geller and Angel assist the Phenomenon contestants as well as provide their insight, home viewers will be the ones who vote to determine which act eventually claims the show's $250,000 grand prize following its five-week broadcast run.

"To be able to showcase the unique talents of this stunning and mysterious genre on live television, where absolutely anything can happen, ups the ante enormously," said Craig Plestis, NBC's executive vice president of alternative programming.

In addition to its two-hour Halloween broadcast on Wednesday, October 31, NBC will broadcast each of Phenomenon's one-hour episodes live and also implores home viewers to try and debunk the contestants' tricks.

"We hope viewers will watch with their friends and talk about and debate what they see, making this a truly interactive television experience," added Plestis.

Phenomenon is a co-production of Granada America, Keshet Broadcasting, and Kuperman Productions in association with SevenOne International, which controls the worldwide rights to the show's format. It is executive produced by Suzy Lamb, Michael Agbabian and Dwight Smith.
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Postby Guest » 10/06/07 11:56 PM

My client
Jim "Psychic Madman" Karol
Las Vegas performer
Gerry "The Mentalist" McCambridge
among the ten finalists.

Postby Guest » 10/07/07 03:01 PM

"In addition to its two-hour Halloween broadcast on Wednesday, October 31, NBC will broadcast each of Phenomenon's one-hour episodes live and also implores home viewers to try and debunk the contestants' tricks."

I've been told that this will be the "interactive" portion of the program where viewers can submit by video and email what they think the solutions are. Doubtless there will be amongst the group of wannabe puzzle solvers a contingent of 12-year-olds who've read Annemann or smart-ass amateurs who want to show how clever they are by exposing mentalism secrets to a wide audience.

The only people who walk away from this as beneficiaries will be Geller, Angel, the producers and the "winner." I don't see where this will be good for performance mentalism.

I've also been told - and would be happy to be corrected if I'm wrong - that the auditions were video taped and the performers signed away all rights for no pay. I hope that's not correct.

Postby Guest » 10/07/07 06:03 PM

What really is the "Pre-Phenomenon" state of mentalism in the world today?

Isn't it way under the radar now?

I asked my wife is she had ever heard of Jon Stetson and she assumed I was talking about the type of cologne they sprayed
in the bathrooms at Gilley's.

You don't even want to know what she mistakenly thought
Max Maven referred to.

How many performers are doing mentalism full-time who don't supplement their income via other means whether it be as a magician or say, as a salesman?

A positive side effect of this show could very well be an increase
in the degree of innovation (and technology) that mentalists will eventually need to incorporate.

Of course, there are rampant concerns as to whether the tenets of mentalism will be exposed, or that the performers themselves will be exploited or sacrificed as inferior fodder by Geller and company.

The early indications are that the show will be respecting its performers, even if other shows like the Soup will likely end up lampooning the hell out of it. Will someone screw up on live television? Almost certainly.

Somehow though, even if the show ends up in the same campy realm that Kreskin appearances on Letterman did, something tells me that the great mentalists out there (whether they chose to showcase on NBC or not) will all end up with more work and higher asking prices from it.

I'm not privy to how negotiations with NBC went down as the presence of management at the negotiation table was greatly dissuaded. My role with this client is more along the lines of being his creative consultant--the cranky Mickey Goldmill
to his Rocky Balboa if you will.

Postby Guest » 10/07/07 06:38 PM

Of course it depends on how one defines "under the radar." If one is working and doing well in one's chosen market then, no, "under the radar" does not apply. If you mean getting on TV...well, that's something else entirely and not necessarily good for the performer if he is exposed to wide audience and he isn't very good or very charming. The sword of TV can cut in both directions.

I read the same thesis put forward by a hack writer at the LA Times some years back in a smarmy review of a vent convention in Las Vegas. The writer's sole criteria for success was TV work. I had a letter printed that suggested that there were plenty of vents working all over the country who made decent livings, people the writer never heard of who had never been on TV and were doing quite well. The same could be said for mentalists and others in our odd little business.

Postby Bob Baker » 10/07/07 07:19 PM

Many of the top working mentalists in the country turned down multiple requests from the producers to audition. Well, of course! What did they have to gain? They are already making excellent, steady livings doing what they are doing. They have pretty good control over their careers. Why would they risk their livings with the vagaries of "reality" television?
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Postby Guest » 10/07/07 08:16 PM

Exactly so, Bob. Years ago I knew one of the top psychopharmacologists in the world. He told me never to trust a TV producer as it had been his experience that they would lie at the drop of a hat to get what they wanted.

Postby Guest » 10/07/07 08:42 PM

I'm in agreement with both of you.

Sure, television exposure isn't any kind of barometer for success. I have little doubt that many of the top mentalists who turned down the producer advances will end up quite happy with their decision not to have participated.

After all, I've seen guys go on national television and not gotten a single inquiry for subsequent work and I've seen others perform at small functions and manage to book five shows
off of it.

It really comes down to each individual performer asking themselves if they can somehow thrive within this odd and somewhat strange environment that they will have little
control over. In a sense, it's an art form unto itself.

Many of the top mentalists were wise to stay away for an additional reason. After all, if the ten that were chosen to be showcased here do raise the visibility of the genre, the others will have an increased shot of getting their own national showcase with far superior renumeration and with
full artistic control to boot--if it is their goal to grow
beyond the paradigm of being a big fish in a small bowl.

Oddly, Although I've met talent who were grateful to have been featured on reality shows, I've yet to meet any who have told me that regretted ever taking part. Are there any you know of?

Postby Guest » 10/08/07 05:42 AM

Producers are happy to exploit those willing to be exploited. A good friend had a producer approach him for an hour "special," but he would have to "audition." Turned out the "audition" was him doing a half-hour show to be taped and given to the producers FOR NOTHING! Then he MIGHT get his show. My friend did not jump at that "opportunity."

When producers were hunting for "civilians" to be part of the "Real Gilligan's Island" a close friend was approached to be "The Professor." He is a well-known science writer and knows his stuff. He sent me the contract for my thoughts.

Essentially, they demanded that he sign away all rights the show's lawyers could think up including accidental death or dismemberment. The contract said the producers could edit the tape and show him in any light they wanted. So much for the "reality" of the show.

I told him he would be insane to sign away his future. He wisely declined the "opportunity."

"Reality" TV is for people who have little or nothing going on in their lives. "Reality" TV is about as exploitive as TV gets...the perfect marriage between a certain kind of rapacious producer who lives to screw people and people looking to be "somebody" without having any particular talent. They are cheap to produce and the networks love them.

Postby Guest » 10/08/07 05:46 AM

Chris Ritter said, "I'm not privy to how negotiations with NBC went down as the presence of management at the negotiation table was greatly dissuaded. My role with this client is more along the lines of being his creative consultant--the cranky Mickey Goldmill
to his Rocky Balboa if you will."

I would observe Chris, that if this client had management of your quality, then he was a fool to go into negotiations with the producers without you to protect him.

If the producers did not want management representing their clients then this is a major red flag that the show is not on the up and up. Small wonder the big boys avoided this show.

Postby Guest » 10/08/07 11:56 AM

Everything you say has merit and accuracy.

But I would have to admit that if I were at the network meetings that the chance
of any kind of a deal being consummated would have decreased significantly.

The client knew this and acted accordingly.

Basically, in theory, an act would not want to risk the luxury of having
free network commericals for his skills

(in addition to a multi-week trip to Los Angeles
many of the expenses covered in which we can take meetings)

(in addition for video footage that would greatly increase his eventual
promotional package)

for what would amount to be some upfront salary and some legal
guarantees that could be overturned in the right courtroom by the right lawyer.

The act figures, perhaps correctly, if he is ever going to climb a few rungs
higher in the business, that it is going to have to be in a situation such as this.

The only other way to grow his business is to attract investors and
that's a bear without (wait for it) adequate television exposure.

I am still hard-pressed to find any talent who has gone on one of
these shows who is worse off than they were before.

Have you?

Who's had their bookings sheared or their acts stolen by the producers
they signed away rights to?

Will any of these particular Phenom mentalists have their rights usurped?

We'll see,
but most mentalists are already well aware that any easy piece from
their acts can be appropriated by unethical competitors at any time,
so much of their acts are already as theft-proof as possible.

A couple of them were contestants on the previous incantation in Israel
and they signed on again.

I just read this morning about a guy named Terry Fator, a vent, who
probably signed away all his rights to do this year's America's Got Talent
and did so--for little or no money (well, before he won the
7 figure money at the end).

He just added a third show to his sold out two show run at the Vegas Hilton.
His opening act? Bobby Badfingers--another guy who probably owes
these reality show producers a big thank you valentine.
After all,
it's not like they are paying AGT a commission.

As you know, nothing at all is stopping all the great mentalists out
there who turned down Phenomenon from banding together and doing
a special of their own.

In theory, wouldn't this collection of talent blow away what will soon
be happening on NBC?

Of course, it will never happen.

After all, what producer (even an ethical one) would want to deal with
their increased control issues and upfront money demands.

(some would insist on equal money, others would insist on superior
money and perks.)

For an experienced producer, it's a known recipe for disaster.

Postby Guest » 10/09/07 10:02 AM

Quick footnote - Terry Fator's million dollar prize from America's Got Talent is paid over 40 years - $25,000 a year.

Postby Bob Baker » 10/10/07 07:01 PM

Yes, but the price he receives for his corporate shows jumped from $5000 to $25,000, according to Terry's manager.
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Postby Bob Baker » 10/10/07 07:03 PM

Here's a link to an article about the 10 contestants, complete with a heart-warming little bio about each:


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Postby Keith Raygor » 10/11/07 05:54 AM

You ask the state of mentalism in today's world - "Pre-Phenomenon", and mention it being under the radar. I think your answers have worked for you and your client, and of course have led him to television's draw, but its clear others came up with different answers by not allowing themselves any participation with the producers or their concept. So I'm not sure there's much to learn from the questions you pose except that they lead you to comfort.

Its my opinion your wife's knowledge of Max Maven or John Stetson and the result you infer, is not an indicator of whether to make a move towards a show such as this.

TV is a spectator sport, but reality TV is voyeurism. As a culture, we've grown accustomed to seeing Britney Spears' breakdowns occur in our living rooms, but as a person, I can't escape the feeling that I'm watching something I shouldn't be seeing - a moment of someone else's personal pain and exploitation that didn't need to be a part of MY life. And the genre you speak of searches for that moment to exploit. The producers think its great television.

But there's something you said that made me mentally wince: "A positive side effect of this show could very well be an increase
in the degree of innovation (and technology) that mentalists will eventually need to incorporate."

Why? Because Valentino used this as his reason for exposure, and because it rings hopeful in desire and hollow in the practical, real world.
Anytime you need to find a positive side effect of something, go back and examine the substance of the primary effects.

And finally, you mentioned twice you could find no one who was the worse off for having been on any of these shows. I'll leave you to fill in the rest of my sentence.
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Postby Guest » 10/11/07 11:17 AM

Dear Keith,

I seek answers for clarity not for comfort.

As best exemplified by your closing salvo, I don't think you're interested in displaying that clarity--even though I believe you are probably very bright and more than capable of doing so.

I appreciate you approaching the notion of answering my questions, but you came off to me more like a guy who needed to launch into an emotionallly moral treatise INSTEAD of as a respected elder who saw an opportunity to enlighten someone. You also felt a need for condescension which I believe undermined any point you try to make.

A question for perhaps someone else?

Why is it that what is the right choice for one mentalist is not right for another? Is there only one choice to be made?

I don't believe so. Three of my five clients were approached for the show and I didn't want one of them anywhere near it and really only gave close to a 50/50 endorsement to the other two.

I greatly respect the decisions of the great mentalists who declined participation. I would bet the producers were
bugging them incessantly to join up.

Turning them down makes sense for a variety of reasons.


---they would have had to turn down numerous bookings to be in LA for weeks for the show,
---they would have been positioned alongside numerous other mentalists (which could conceivably make him seem less special) and
---if people were to become familiar with their best buttons, then they would lack a certain surprise factor when he hit them live at one of his corporate events.

Who knows, maybe some of the acts would see that the others were all using similar material or would fear that the others would freely liberate parts of their act.

Of course, some of the mentalists there are quite secure that some of their methods are so original that even those in the craft can't fully understand them but even so--

Will the producers be tempted to exploit any conflict or scene of humiliation?


Hell, that happens in baseball and politics let alone direct forms of entertainment. You've been backstage at magic shows. If you're not a catty magician yourself, then you surely know some!

Am I suggesting we implicitly trust all television producers?


I AM suggesting that every specific mentalist on this show will have a better resume after it is over and that every top mentalist who wasn't on the show will figure out a clever way to position themselves as having been too skilled for the show.

Am I worried about exploitation? YESSSSS!!!

But I take some solace in the fact that on a live performance, the entertainer actually has a degree of control he wouldn't have in a taped environment, where editing and post effects can work to make someone seem especially idiotic as many have seen from early episodes of AGT and American Idol.

I also take solace that at least some of the entertainers know not to try to push this as pure science.

Why would Jim Karol do this show then?

I know it's not primarily about the promise of money as he just turned
down a six figure deal to do something that didn't sit well with us morally.

I know its not for ego either as he is uncomfortable with the idea of getting branded as the "World's Best Mentalist". In fact, he would greatly prefer to be known instead as the world's wackyest mentalist."

He is doing the show for numerous reasons with potential money and the joy of entertaining on a wide scale
being just twoof the integral factors.

You see--he believes he can navigate the mousetrap of reality tv and to promote mentalism on a bigger scale, not only to Hollywood but to the Midwest to promote the art form that he loves.

Of course, he's a hybrid act who incorporates some magic and showmanship, comedy and such actual feats of memory
into the mentalism, but he still could end up becoming a good spokesman for whose rising tide will float ALL BOATS.

In my opinion, the world needs more spokespeople who promote the crafts of magic and mentalism.

If anything, the worse thing that could possibly happen is if all ten contestants sucked.
because if that were to happen, all the good ones might actually
out that there bookings will decrease overnight.

As for likening what this show is to Valentino, there is a huge difference in intent and in design. Do you really think Uri Geller is going to be a part of something that does to mentalism what Valentino did with magic? Seriously? Do you think if some jerk who knows the 411 calls in with actual secrets that they will get aired?

My aside that this will lead to a better and technologically more advances version of mentalism may sound like what Valentino said, but my version is not hollow, nor is it an excuse to justify something morally questionable. You shouldn't liken me to that. You really shouldn't. Know the difference and act accordingly.

I recall the Valentino era very well.

I heard two distinct schools of thought. One predicted that it was the end of magic as we know it and the other suggested that it would simply mean that the better magicians would
adapt and prosper.

Sure, some entertainment bookers got cold feet and quit booking magic briefly in anticipation that the public wouldn't want it, but I think we all understand now that he didn't exactly torpedo the entire industry as feared.

Magic historians like many of you must have plenty of historical perspective on Valentino now and so now I ask the question

"What sort of drop in income did Copperfield suffer in the 12 month period in the wake of Valentino's specials"

and also

"who specifically was driven out of the magic business
because of Valentino?"

Maybe the cycle of people exposing magic works similar to the concept of how forests thrive insofar as a good burning every now and then seems to bring it back to life.

After all, I recall people crapping all over Penn & Teller years ago for exposing certain illusions and Criss Angel takes a lot of heat as well, but in essence, it seems to indicate to me that whenever these offensive breaks in kayfabe happen that invariably, it is on the precipice of when a magical spike is about to occur.

Mentalism is about to have the biggest shot at mainstream America in years. Whether it parlays itself well will depend entirely on the entertainment value that the producers
and acts can deliver.

If you're a mentalist reading this, I imagine you should really be rooting for this show to take off instead of just taking pleasure in the possibility that it might crash and burn. In a sense, this is a portion of your livelihood at stake, and in an odd surreal way, you chose not to have even a single say in how that steering wheel will turn.

Postby Keith Raygor » 10/11/07 01:53 PM

I did hope I was demonstrating clarity. I reacted to some of your statements, and stated so in as few paragraphs and words as possible. For example, I didn't liken the show to Valentino at all, only your response. It was very similar to his and I was struck by it and gave you my thoughts on it.

When you used the lack of knowledge your wife had of Max Maven and John Stetson to demonstrate mentalism being under the radar, my response was clear - I don't think its a good barometer for deciding whether to be involved in the show. I see we disagree on that, but still, I think I was clear without condescension.

My 'closing salvo' was left that way because I thought it obvious without pounding the point. You brought it up twice in two msgs that you could find no one worse the wear for having been in a reality-based show, but I think there is evidence to the contrary. It was an important proving point to you, and yet I disagree. I think there are plenty of participants that share some regrets.

I think there are good reasons to take part in shows like this. Not for me, but for others. I don't have to be convinced. I don't know whether these shows do permanent damage to the art. Magic (and mentalism) has always been a very personal expression for me and the audience, and television doesn't always to a good job in capturing that engagement. I'm not finding exception with those that go on shows like this. I truly wish them the best. I was only finding exception with your use of these particular items to defend their choices.

You were making your points with your mentions of being under the radar, your wife, and the Valentino-like remark.
I disagreed and made my points. You found mine condescending, and I find that your assessment of me (as opposed to the points I made) does not make for encouraging dialog.

Emotionally moral treatise? I don't know - I was honest with how I felt and I am not a respected elder. I only gave my take on it.
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Postby Guest » 10/12/07 12:35 AM

" I think there are plenty of participants that share some regrets." - KG

Can you name any magicians who overall regret doing reality television
or is this merely a hunch?

Postby Keith Raygor » 10/12/07 01:13 PM

I was speaking of the reality show genre in general, not just magicians, so your question doesn't address my statement. But I would offer Kevin James interview in this month's Reel Magic as an insight into this topic, and a clearer understanding of my viewpoint. Some of his thoughts, though similar to mine, may appeal to you more so than from this condescending, elder-wannabe with morals.

There are many good reasons to do shows such as this, and you've expressed several. I only disagreed with your reasoning behind a couple specific points.
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Postby Guest » 10/12/07 04:24 PM

Thank you for coming up with a name.

I don't believe that the Kevin James interview is available on the internet

Since you read the interview, could you paraphrase
it was that Simon Cowell played a big part in ousting Kevin from reaching
the next round?

I'm sure Kevin James had some regrets but I would still be interested
in knowing if he wishes he had never gone on in the first place.

After all, his interviews and his magic sets impressed
of people (to say nothing of how he must have impressed the marketing
division of Anheuser Busch for ending a routine by drinking a Budweiser.)

Yes, I think you're right. It's a bad idea for non-professional entertainers
to go on reality shows. After all, if you can't conquer your town, how
can you conquer a nation?

You're cracking me up with your insinuations that you haven't been
condescending. You're practically the only person who
can't see it.

Here's a tip for when you are "not" being condescending in the future.

When you write something like "I'll leave you to fill in the rest of my sentence."
---don't actually finish the sentence. I know its hard for some people
to resist having their period, but feel free to try.

All kidding aside, can I ask you a question about your business?

Let's say for the sake of argument that you had managed
clear your busy schedule, gone on America's Got Talent
won the whole she-bang.

What impact would that have had on your business?

Would it have been minimal since you've already cornered your market
and priced yourself right around the ceiling that most of your magic
clients can afford? Or would the time away from
a cruise director for what would amount out to a relatively small yearly
annuity not have been sound business?

Postby Guest » 10/13/07 07:26 AM


I am curious if the participants in this "contest" are paid for their appearances or if, in the guise of being "contestants" they necessarily work for free...compensation being the exposure they get on network television. Since one of your clients is part of the final 10, you should be in a position to know. I'm not interested in the amount of the fee, if any. I'd just like to know if the participants, other than the winner, are being paid to perform.

Postby Brad Henderson » 10/13/07 02:52 PM

Keith, I didn't think you sounded condescending at all. Thought you had some great points. I noticed the "valentino gambit" as well.

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Postby Guest » 10/13/07 04:04 PM

Ok, back to the show now.
I saw a promo for the show late one night last week, the first thing that went through my head was "People are gonna think there are special effects involved."
The second thing that went through my head was "Hey, we have pie!"


Postby Guest » 10/14/07 02:01 AM

When reading the lastest Phenomenon press release, it seemed that
some of the contestants were promoting themselves as the real deal
whereas others seem not to as willing to go that far.

I suppose it is one thing to be coy in answering whether you have
special powers and another to actually claim credit for them.

Snake oil and water don't mix.

You guys got me thinking about the "Valentino Gambit"
I think I know why I came up with my statement.

In the past eight years, I have seen three different mentalists perform
(besides Jim Karol who is more of a hybrid act)
I should note that these three mentalists are all highly respected and
well seasoned.

Well, in the instance of every performance, not only did they fail to
grab the audience, they actually angered some people.

I have never in all my years seen a magician ever anger an audience
(well..outside the vicinity of the Wyrick theatre) and yet with a mentalist
is left onstage for more than ten minutes, tensions rise.

Was it because the audience members were frustrated in not being
able to figger out all the phenomena?

No, it was because roughly half of the stuff WAS too decipherable
and because the other half that wasn't just wasn't all that

It seemed, on average, that out of every 100 people, there would be 5 that were
digging it with rapt fascination, 15 who were mildly amused,
70 people
who were bored and 10 people who were painfully resisting
the urge
to rush the stage to physically beat the hell out of the performer for
turning their evening into a slow churning pit of agitated boredom.

I liked all the three performances myself, but there it is, I'm not exactly mainstream America.

Another story I can tell you to attest to the current state of mentalism happened
last year when I was called up by the booker of the Tom Green internet
show in Hollywood. Oddly enough, he had two separate cancellations
just hours before airtime and he was asking if I had Johnathan or John Cassidy
available to fill in on short notice. But they were both out of state
so I instead told him that I would try to find someone else for him as a favor.

I started making calls and put out a blanket e-mail and followed up
on leads and some magicians recommended other magicians but
basically after 90 minutes, I had only one candidate.

A leading mentalist was within driving distance. Cool!

So, I call up the booker and talk the guy up and throw some enticing
ideas out about how the mentalist and Tom could interplay and I send along
the guy's website and so on and so forth and the booker is intrigued
but tells me he needs to review it and that he will get back to me.

I get a call an hour later and am given the "thank you no".

A few hours later, curiosity gets the best of me and I tune in to see
who they scrounged up at the last minute that they thought was better
than the guy I tried to sell them on.

It was no one.

The host went on that night with no guests. When faced with the choice
of booking a top mentalist for free or nothing, they went with nothing.

Ergo, there are those of us outside of the fishbowl who believe that
the best thing that can happen to the craft of mentalism is a semi-exploitative
show like Phenomenon because the scrutiny and skepticism the craft
of mentalism endures will force it to evolve into a higher art form.

Postby Guest » 10/14/07 06:38 PM

Chris wrote:
"Ergo, there are those of us outside of the fishbowl who believe that
the best thing that can happen to the craft of mentalism is a semi-exploitative
show like Phenomenon because the scrutiny and skepticism the craft
of mentalism endures will force it to evolve into a higher art form."

Mentalism is personality/presentationally driven. Period. If the performer is likeable then his show will succeed. If he isn't, no amount of "innovation" or "scrutiny" or anything else will make it "evolve" into anything "higher."

Postby Guest » 10/14/07 08:57 PM

David, I wrote you offline about your Phenomenon question but your
old e-mail address didn't work. Write me if you like and I can shed
some light on that issue

On your latest, although I'd agree that likability is a supreme asset
to a mentalist, isn't it possible that if he were mysteriously frightening
enough OR if he was an anti-charismoid who had some sort of
wonderous technology that the show could blow away even
most strident of skeptics?

Not that magic is the same as mentalism, but I know people who really
don't take to Copperfield's stage persona whatsoever, but who still
begrudgingly admit that it is a knockout show

Postby Guest » 10/15/07 05:11 PM

I've got to admit that I haven't read all that was posted in this thread.

One of my coaching clients, Angela Funofits, was cast on the show. She is the only woman. A teenager, no less. I am so proud of her, and that's really all I care about.

Despite what anyone thinks, this show will cause mentalism to become very mainstream, and the feild will get VERY popular - for good or bad.

Postby Keith Raygor » 10/18/07 06:17 AM

In presenting my point of view in an earlier response to Chris Ritter's thoughts on the show "Phenomenon" and its possible effects on the future of mentalism as an art and as a business, I phrased my points in a way that were taken as condescending. After a few days and some further off-line conversation with Chris, I realize Chris was right in characterizing my comments as such. I think this is an important topic at an important time, for many of the reasons he has outlined. Unfortunately, part of my posting hindered intelligent dialogue. I apologize for getting in the way of that dialogue, and to Chris for not taking more care with my writing.
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Keith Raygor
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Postby Guest » 10/23/07 09:51 PM

Too Kind.


The format:

On Phenomenon tonight, they will showcase four performers, and
two will be voted forward by fan selection.

Then on the second program which airs on Halloween, the other six
will perform and three will move forward.

Halloween is a two hour program and the original four will perform as well.

Three episodes will then follow.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/24/07 06:58 PM

Okay: who saw "Phenomenon" tonight and has something interesting to say?

I thought it was interesting that Gerry McCambridge got audible gasps from the audience (even though his lead-in was obnoxious as hell) and seemed to get more audience reaction than the other contestants, but Uri and Criss just pounded him into the ground.

I don't know McCambridge, and from what I hear he's not a well-liked guy, but after the successful performance of something that seemed miraculous, and a great audience reaction, it was painful to see his face when Geller buried him afterward.

The guy with the nail guns, who was received so enthusiastically by Geller and Angel, put me to sleep. Could anyone have done a less interesting presentation of Russian Roulette?

I liked the crazy guy who put his hand into the fox trap, even though the mentalism part of his routine made no sense whatsever when combined with the fox trap. I liked his personality--and boy did he look like he was in pain.
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Richard Kaufman
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Postby Guest » 10/24/07 07:55 PM

While I don't like Gerry I thought he was the best of a poor lot. Perhaps Gerry was getting a bit of payback from Geller for doing an early video on bending metal. I also thought he was the only one who could might be able to carry an act and not be too boring for 20 or 30 minutes. I don't see how any of the others would be able to present an engaging act at all. Maybe next week things will be better.

And I didn't think much of Criss announcing the real name of what Ehud did and then telling the world who created it. Tacky, unnecessary and without any point.

Postby Guest » 10/24/07 08:02 PM

hmmm yes it was odd to hear him mention a trick by name.

but who was that guy with the less than masculine voice?

the first guy seemed to have an expressive face which was good as a volunteer for the first performer.

the second performer may have picked the wrong volunteer and messed with that guys chances as well.

but hey... IMHO was lots more fun then the wizard's apprentice BBC show and got to see some good performances.

Bravo to all involved - and welcome to primetime Criss and Uri. :)

Postby Bob Baker » 10/24/07 08:05 PM

I thought Angel was abominable. So smug (I've been on televesion more than any other magician.) So know-it-all (I've worked with with Banachek and I can name PK Touches. Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nuh.) So condescending. (I did the ultimate Russian roulette with a real gun.)

This show can't work for mentalism. No time to build audience rapport, no time to establish a character. No time for the audience to think about the impossibility of what they are seeing.

Many of the top names in mentalism turned down invitations from the producers to be on this show. How many of them do you think are regretting that decision now?

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Postby Guest » 10/24/07 09:12 PM

The best thing about the show was Rachel Hunter's legs.

Postby Guest » 10/24/07 09:30 PM

Gerry was the only one to interact to any degree with the audience. He received a nice round of applause and the spectators helping him all seemed genuinely surprised at the end. Chris and Uri's responses surprised me.

When the bear trap guy started I thought he was doing the Wayne Dobson ventriloquism thing with the helper for the first minute or so.

I keep remember the fellow who works with Jim Carol saying "Can you name any magicians who overall regret doing reality television". I wonder if any of these performers do?

Postby Guest » 10/24/07 11:35 PM

All I can hope for is that one of two things happens to this show. A. it gets a whole lot better quickly B. Gets canceled so the damage wont be too bad.

Really, this show was down right awful, and should have never made it to the air with the talent that was on (although Gerry was ok - just surprised he didnt do something better)

I also hope not a single person in america is buying into the load that Uri is shoveling, and while yes Criss naming an effect was not great, it wasnt really that bad - the public just heard PK touch, and a mans name, no harm there... I infact applaud most of Criss's comments (they were open and mostly honest comments from a magician - he could have gone the way of Uri and pretended that it was all real and never been seen before)

This is a show about the next best mentalist, and that doesnt happen with routine magic effects.

Postby Glenn Farrington » 10/25/07 12:10 AM

First off, in real life I like Chris, Banachek and I always wish that best for anyone in this nut-job business (meaning you competing ten) to do well. However, except for Extreme Makeover Home Edition (makes me cry every time) I hate all reality TV...on every level, behind and in front of the camera. That being said...some quick thoughts:

The only thing that would be a Phenomenon is if NBC doesn't cancel it before all the episodes air.

I kept hoping they would put up a phone number that would allow me to call in if I didn't care who wins.

I personally can't wait to see the first parody of two guys with unique voices sitting in blue chairs watching "mind-blowing magic". My bet goes to Saturday Night Live.

Is the demographic that watches MindFreak allowed to stay up this late to watch Phenomenon?

For whatever reason, Gerry got screwed.

I want my hour back.

Chris...Uri...eat a burger for god's sake.

If I ever need to cast a zombie in a low budget film I'm contacting Uri...can save money on make-up and prosthetics.

I just remember saying the other day that it's getting harder for TV to sink any lower. Man I hate being wrong.

Quick tip on winning...somebody snap their fingers and put the fires out here in So Cal.

I kept hoping Marie Osmond would show up and feint.

I want my hour back.

During Uri's mental challenge the only sign I could envision was the stop sign...but he kept going.

I hope Uri succeeds in being mentally challenged each week.

I agree with Chris. I applaud NBC for allowing someone to aim a nail gun at his head during the family hour. Gotta love that wholesome entertainment.

I really thought Chris would plug his show, but I guess he didn't have time while he was explaining how after having more TV air time than any other magician in history he really wanted to be blown away by something he sees on Phenomenon.

Don't we all.

I want my hour back.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 10/25/07 04:01 AM

The premiere was unbelievably boring. There was nothing but gobs of blather and dull, dull performances by dull, dull performers.

Pacing and interest were entirely absent.The host and the d-list special guests appeared as shell-shocked as Tony Robbins on a nitrous oxide bender.

I was praying that Bill Malone would suddenly run onto the stage, smack this people upside their heads and get the party started -- but it didn't happen.

The ONLY interesting moment was the Johnny Carson-Uri Geller excerpt where Uri fails to find the object in the film cannister.

How the Hell did Criss Angel get mixed up in this exercise in monotony -- and how did he manage to stay awake for the whole hour?

Oh yeah -- one more thing: if you want the studio audience to at least resemble the living and not the slumber room at the AARP convention, don't keep telling them to be absolutely quiet because, "this is dangerous."

Well, it worked, the only sound I heard was snoring.
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Postby Guest » 10/25/07 05:52 AM

About Criss' claim - there's Paul Daniels who was on the BBC for 15 years, plus specials. Mark Wilson who was on NETWORK TV in the US for 5 years.

Both these men were doing theatrical magic in front of real audiences, not cooked up special effects with audiences of hired actors and clever editing presented as "magic."

Postby Guest » 10/25/07 07:35 AM

I would think Kreskin would have quite a few hours logged on TV as well if you add up his shows and all the talk show appearences over the years.


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