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

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

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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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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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.

Postby Pete Biro » 10/25/07 07:55 AM

Glad I forgot to watch it.
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Postby Guest » 10/25/07 07:57 AM

Angel was careful to qualify his remark by saying that he had the most "Prime Time" hours of any Magician. I still suspect that Paul Daniels would have more.

T. Baxter

Postby Guest » 10/25/07 08:02 AM

I voted 4 times for Ross, the audience assistant for Jim Karol, who appears frequently on Jay Leno.

I'm not a big fan of mentalism but I hope for the competitors sake, the show gets better.

I think both "judges" came across as pompous. Uri Geller and the next Uri Geller.

just my .02


Postby Guest » 10/25/07 09:58 AM

To be fair he qualified it as in the US...which would explain Paul Daniels (still a cocky look at me move though)

Postby Randwill » 10/25/07 10:52 AM

It's too bad we can't just have a network program featuring up and coming talent in magic/mentalism without all the silly, time-wasting trappings of a competition. I realize that this was probably pitched and sold as an "American Idol", but with magicians and that's why it's on, but, still, it's too bad.
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Postby Guest » 10/25/07 12:10 PM

Originally posted by entity:
Angel was careful to qualify his remark by saying that he had the most "Prime Time" hours of any Magician. I still suspect that Paul Daniels would have more.

T. Baxter
He actually said American Prime Time.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/25/07 12:24 PM

He's started qualifying his remarks now because Mark Wilson had way more TV time than he did and that has been brought up repeatedly. His goal, of course, is to (without directly saying so), claim that he's had more TV time than David Copperfield.
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Postby Bob Gerdes » 10/25/07 12:41 PM

Isn't how many people actually watched the shows more important than how many hours a magician has been on TV?
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Postby Guest » 10/25/07 12:55 PM

Originally posted by Bob Gerdes:
Isn't how many people actually watched the shows more important than how many hours a magician has been on TV?
Actually, isn't it not really that important at all?


Postby Guest » 10/25/07 01:12 PM

I just couldn't believe how boring it all was. There were two acts where the audience was told to keep quiet, so any joke they told went over like a lead brick.
And why was Angel so harsh? He had very critical things to say about each act, sometimes way too critical, which makes me think he wasn't there to judge as much as to make himself look better.

Best quote of the night came from Angel himself: "No one is more critical of my act then myself."
Apparently the man has never read the Genii forum.


Postby Guest » 10/25/07 03:57 PM

Regardless of how many hours Criss is on TV, David Copperfield was on NETWORK television, a far cry from cable.

David used his TV time intelligently to establish and then sell his national touring show. Criss has a cable TV show that is produced quickly. Criss' product is a far cry from what David produced on a yearly basis.

Mere time in front of a camera does not equate to quality. This almost sounds like a "mine's bigger than your's" argument.

Postby Bob Farmer » 10/25/07 04:03 PM

If the next show is as bad as this one was, I think Angel might be subtracting the time he spent as a judge from his claims.
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Postby Guest » 10/25/07 04:47 PM

I honestly think Gerry made watching the show worth my time yesterday. I do not remember the last time I've ever felt so embarrased for someone. It's a feeling I have rarely encountered in my life but the emotion was a little entertaining in itself.

I think that performance by Gerry was symbolizing that times have changed and the days of Tony Corinda and Fogel are somewhat "The Old Testament," for mentalists for lack of a better analogy. Times change, so we must adapt with it if we're even to survive. However, I still believe the man has potential to put on a better performance next time.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/25/07 08:04 PM

It came in third in the ratings, higher only than some turd on FOX.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/25/07 09:43 PM

I wonder whose material he will be doing.

oops, did I type that out loud?
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Postby Guest » 10/25/07 09:54 PM

I watched with a layperson (actually, that description halfway describes me as well)

He decided that the three celebrity volunteers were simply "in" on all the routines.

I myself don't know all the secrets but it seems conceivable to me that every effect the four guys
did could have been done without any "inside help" from stooges.

I wonder if a large portion of viewers reached the same conclusion, incorrect or not, as he did.


He pointed out that Gerry accidentally said the digit 1 when he should have instead said X which seemed like a huge flash at the time.
(but it was inconsequential.)


Is it just my imagination or did 8 out of the ten contestants all have on black jackets with either blue or purple dress shirts?

Is that the mentalist's dress code?

The ensemble looked like a young girl and her intimidating bodyguard surrounded by eight
strip club managers.


Mike Super, a top young magician on the current college circuit, was added at the last minute. He replaced Jason Scott who suddenly is no longer a contestant for reasons unknown.


I don't know if the two guys who end up getting voted off will (overall) end regretting the appearance or not but its dollars to donuts that they will use the footage and advertise that they were once on network television with Criss Angel. Also, both will get to perform a little more next week so they get to add even more to their reels.


On the subject of Jim Karol's foxtrap, a little over a year ago he was showing Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera the routine (Karol was featured in the Jackass sequel)

Although Jim Karol isn't a sadist, he agreed to let them try it out for themselves after giving them all his safety tips. Bam and Johnny both regretted their courage.


Karol has actually been doing 60 minute shows for years--although he mixes in more then just mentalism. Some are on the college circuit and some are even for high-brow gigs like the TED conference.


Just my two cents, but I believe the voting public will faction out into two groups, one who wants their mentalist to be scary and dangerous and the other who will vote for the performer's personality and the overall flow of entertainment they provide.

Postby Guest » 10/25/07 11:09 PM


Postby Guest » 10/25/07 11:34 PM

How so?

Postby Guest » 10/26/07 01:13 AM

In my opinion, too many mentalists and/or magicians have the same old charm and commercial type of style. Most performers see this as the standard or the bar. The way they strut, walk and talk during a performance is all the same. Orginality is no longer being emphasized by the magic community anymore. Instead, effects are sold, and then copied by the purchaser w/out any thought about how it truly fits in with their persona and it continues on like a ripple effect. Not to say that it isn't entartaining but it's not as fun to witness as someone who truly expresses themself.

When we think of someone we admire, their qualities are always very distinct from everyone else. They're truly one of a kind and that's why they're so popular and entertaining.

Hopefully, somone in the next show will be daring enough to truly express themself.

Postby Guest » 10/26/07 01:20 AM

My question with Phenomenon is: Does anyone care?

You must make your audience care if you want to be effective and entertaining. It's theatre 101!


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