The World's Greatest Magic 6?

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Postby Guest » 10/28/02 01:09 PM

I used to look forward to Thanksgiving every year because of the family gathering, the food, and The World's Greatest Magic. Well, I don't think I ever heard the complete story as to why it was stopped, but I'm curious to know if there are any plans to revive that show?

Maybe, since Richard Kaufman and the rest of the Genii crew are so influential in magic, they could revive the show themselves? I would love to have that one special magic day a year to look forward to again. If I had the money and the know-how to put a show of that caliber together, I would, but for now, I must hope that someone who does have this type of resource would step forward to continue the tradition.

I can't tell you how much I looked forward to that show and how "heart-broken" I was when I learned it was no longer being produced. :confused:

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Postby luigimar » 10/28/02 02:47 PM

I think it will be difficult to see it again (except on re-runs, and that is, the ones which are already done) now that the producer (Gary Ouellet, spelling?) is dead. :(
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Postby Guest » 10/28/02 03:04 PM

I understand that, but that doesn't mean it can't be revived through a different producer. If that's not as easily doable because of legal issues, then someone can create the same type of magic show under a different name.

In magic, we have very few magic shows to watch, let alone any good ones. I can't believe it hasn't already been done. Maybe there's just not enough support? I don't know, but it would be like Christmas as a kid if that type of show were to come back, even if it were only once a year!
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Postby John Signa » 10/28/02 05:19 PM

I think the biggest problem that recreating such a show is that there are so few good original acts that the supply gets depleted after just one or two WGM shows. With the last couple of shows, I felt like I was watching reruns of prior shows.

Does taking the approach of cramming as many acts possible into a 2 hour slot really make for a good magic show? Given that type of programming, there isn't any time for any of the acts to make a connection to the audience and become memorable.

Since WGM5, we've had specials from Copperfield, Burton, and Blaine, all three of which have made enough of an impression on friends and co-workers of mine for them to be mentioned in conversations. I've never had that happend with any of the the WGMs.

Perhaps someone could create a show that was 1/2 way between the two styles: a show case of 4 or 5 performers, where each gets to do a full segment vs. just a few minutes.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/02 08:26 AM

Well, I guess any magic show is better than no magic show since there are so few around. I just think it was more memorable for me because it was wrapped up in my Thanksgiving mood. Nothing like the holiday spirit and a little magic to make your evening.

Perhaps a similar style to WGM with more close-up magic, as well as a blend of the other styles you mentioned would be good. I don't think it would be that difficult to come up with new and exciting magic for a show that happens only once a year. Now, if it's all stage magic, maybe, but they always seemed to focus on that more than some of the other styles.

I guess I'm just longing for my tv magic fix because it's been so long. I've seen the other guys specials (Blaine, Burton and Copperfield), but I guess I'm one of the few that do like a 2 hour crammed pack session of good magic. Now I'll admit that some WGM shows were better than others, but that will happen with any type of series.

I will keep hoping that someone somewhere will feel the same and create such a show. If not, then some day when I have the resources, I will do it.
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Postby Steve Hook » 10/29/02 09:35 AM

I'm with ya, CardMSG.

There are plenty of high-caliber acts and I'm sure there's a producer out there who could run with it.

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Postby Guest » 10/29/02 01:20 PM

Ive always thought that the perfect vehicle for magic on television (if such a beast actually exists) would be a weekly half-hour show. Just imagine tuning in every Thursday night for Live, from the Magic Castle. There would be a host that would do a brief magical introduction, then, after the first commercial break, its over to the close-up gallery for a solid seven minute set in front of an appreciative audience. After the next break we find ourselves in the theater for another seven minutes from a different performer, before our host gives us one last quickie and the credits roll.

22 minutes, two different performers and a host, lots of laughs and surprises, and magic would finally have a showcase where our favorite sons and daughters can finally do a full act, with a beginning, middle and end. There could be a special Halloween theme show, a set from the bar, the occasional grand illusion. The possibilities are endless, and with the smaller number of performers per show we wouldnt have to exhaust all the good stuff in the first two specials.

Ah, to dream

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Postby Guest » 10/29/02 01:52 PM

wow, I never thought of that, but it sounds great. There was a show on PAX not too long ago called "Masters of Illusion" that was supposed to be a weekly show, but apparently the audience wasn't there.

That's the biggest problem, I think, is the target audience for magic is very small, so it makes it hard to do such a show on a regular basis. That's where the one night a year idea was so good in my opinion. Maybe someone can start a Magic cable network. Just like there's Tech TV, Food Channel, Cartoon Network, we could have The Magic TV Network Channel!

Hmmm, if I only had millions of dollars to put into this...
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Postby John Signa » 10/29/02 01:58 PM

I didn't mean to imply that there aren't lots of high-caliber acts out there, just that the format of cramming as many acts as possiible into a 2 hour show doesn't allow personalities to show through.

I like Zech's idea of show based at the Caslte, but I'd propose that at times, both slots could be filled by same performer. For example, Pendragons do a couple stage illusions, broken up by performance of linking finger rings.

Could also do a full half-hour dedicated to Irma playing the piano.... Hmmm... probably not... think it might lose something in the translation to TV.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/02 02:45 PM

I thought Gay Blackstone was putting out some programs along this line and "filling the void" left behind with Gary's passing?

I know I just saw Franz on something the other night (I was channel surfing) with him in it and her name in the credits????
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Postby Kendrix » 10/29/02 03:32 PM

I spoke with Gary Ouellet about 18 months ago and it was certainly not a lack of talent or magic. He had turned his interests to producing an adult show in las Vegas and the "Lumiere" show with Carmen Electra. He implied to me that the sponsorship was lacking and interest in Magic had decreased. Just like all forms of entertainment cycle up and down.
If the interest was really there, then, Gary Pudney would be putting together another WGM.
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Postby Scott » 10/29/02 06:25 PM

Zech, sounds like a great idea. Drop all the big stage illusions. People know stage magic and big productions is all gimmicked and fake. It's always the same concept with a different box or pointed object.

Throw in high quality close up and you've got a great show that would hold people's attention.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/02 11:47 PM

I'd like to see a series of shows like Simon Drake's Secret Cabaret or better yet just show the Secret Cabaret here in the US. The first WGM was OK but the second was the first one all over again and by the third show it was going down hill rapidly. Try watching them back to back on the Family channel and it all becomes a horrid blur of wind blown GQ magi's and their fog machines. How many interludes and subtrunks can one expect an audience to sit through.
I'd much rather see no magic on television than the bad amgic that usually gets broadcast under the guise of entertainment.
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Postby Kendrix » 10/30/02 01:08 PM

I think if I watched what goes on at the Playboy Mansion west for 3 hours back to back I would get bored (well, maybe not). I think it is a little unfair to critique the WGM's when viewed in succession. The response "the public" had was tremendous and the viewer share always very good.
It is true that the popularity decreased with each installment. The WGM did help to accelerate a number of magician's careers. I don't know anyone who participated who doesn't include it on their resume. I would like to bet on how many magicians would turn down an opportunity to be on the show if WGM 6 started casting tomorrow.
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Postby Guest » 10/30/02 01:48 PM

That's true, I can't imagine many magicians would turn down that opportunity. Besides, some of the best names in magic have appeared on it, so they must have appreciated it as well.

To Payne, I would have to agree with Kendrix about watching the shows in succession. I have recorded all of them and I still find myself on occasion watching through them all. I actually record all magic shows I happen to come across, so those boring days when there's nothing else to do, I have a pretty good stash of magic.

The problem, however, is the fact that there's so few magic shows out there, I find myself watching the same ones over and over, so in that sense, it can get boring.

I would love an hour long show that maybe half close up and have small stage magic, with one big illusion or escape at the end. My gripe has always been the lack of close up magic in these shows, so if they just increased that portion a bit, it would be near perfect (as far as mix goes).
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Postby Guest » 10/30/02 05:02 PM

WGM 6 won't happen. Why? 'Cause it's already been done (WGM 1-5). If anyone were to do a WGM 6, i.e. In Los Vegas, Teach-a-trick, slot it on Thanksgiving, etc., it would appear "old hat" to everyone- producers and viewers alike. For that reason alone I would never touch a production that even hinted at being WGM 6- ..."Been there, done that"; yawn, yawn...

But that doesn't mean we, as magic connoissuers, should throw up our hands and think it is the end of the world. Let's, instead, re-invent ourselves. But before we do that let us remember the obstacles. Mainly: It is terribly difficult to convey magic on television, especially close-up magic. Also, regardless of how "expert" or "good" a magician is, viewers of magic through the television media will always have lurking in the back of their minds "they're using camera tricks", or CG SFX, or "I saw IL&M (Industrial Light and Magic) do that. On top of that the recent barage of reveal shows definitely cheapens magic on television; they intentionally made magic "look easy". In other words why care about a magician and his or her magic? It looks fake, my son can do that on his iMac, and we all know magic is easy- just abunch of puzzles dressed-up real pretty; who cares? Yawn, yawn again.

The solution? Ultimately it will have to be a new media. Maybe 3-D TV- like a halogram. Something that doesn't inherently kill mis-direction. Or, a show televised live like the first four Doug Henning specials. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying magic is dead past this point in time on television. It's just obvious to me that the hour or two long "Magic Special" has run its course in the present media. (Maybe a return to radio in the likes of a Dunninger or The Piddingtons is ripe right now?)

In any case, I think the number of responses on this thread is reflective of how small an audience a WGM 6 would receive.
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Postby Brian Marks » 10/30/02 06:23 PM

Several points here:

1. David Blaine's next big endurance stunt: Watching all 5 episodes WGM. The actor/host for each show was always some tired actor of a former hit tv show with a really bad script, a bunch of stage acts that all looked alike and some of the close up acts had fake audinces (the torn and restored card can't be done surrounded unless performed on WGM).

2. No rating points than no magic shows. There is a major lack of variety in magic acts. How many times can you have someone pick a card and find it before the tv audience switches the channel. Many tricks are hard to get a layperson to care especially when they have to watch tv. WGM did not get anyone to care. The 1st Blaine show did make the tv audience care by getting real reactions.

3. Finally the last point. Every WGM, some of the Copperfield specials and the last several Blaine speacials all lead up to some bigger than life illusion which no one remebers. What was the one Lance Burton ended with? Oh Yeah the disappearance of a stealth bomber, or was it Franz Harary with the rocket or Copperfield with the Statue of Liberty or Blaine being let out of a block of ice or just the disappearence of Valentine? hmmm... Am I solving a game of Clue or trying to find the most anticlimtic way to end a magic show special?
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Postby George Olson » 10/31/02 08:02 AM

The weekly 1/2 hour worked well years ago with the Magic Palace out of Canada. I just sat down and watched about ten episodes. All the greats, from Charlie Miller to Falkenstein and Willard. How refreashing. :)

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Postby Guest » 10/31/02 09:49 PM

- I have recorded all of them and I still find myself on occasion watching through them all. I actually record all magic shows I happen to come across, so those boring days when there's nothing else to do, I have a pretty good stash of magic.

I have them all on my Tivo too. I watch the Magic in the Streets from Travel Channel alot! I never seem to get sick of that one. Johnny Ace Palmer is da man!
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Postby Guest » 11/01/02 10:59 AM

Here is my idea for the next televised magic show, let's do something out of the ordinary and do a "bizarre" magic show. I think it's time for the audience to experiance magic. The audience needs and wants to be frieghten and taken to emotional limits. That's just me. Scary movies do better than magic shows, why, they are intrigued by the feeling of terror. Again, it's just a thougt.

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Postby David Alexander » 11/01/02 11:10 AM

One of the great problems with the quickly-produced shows is that far too many are directed like a music video, with swooping camera work that often cuts away from the performer at the wrong moment. An example comes to mind of an Ammar performance where at the climax of the trick the director moves to a long swooping shot completely missing what the performer had been building to for the previous several minutes. This cheated both the performer and the viewer because no one saw the payoff.

This happens because these shows are often shot on a very low budget without much, if any, rehersal. Many of the directors are guys who are in love with technique and style as opposed to creating a vehicle to relay content. The program is too often a vehicle for the director and not a vehicle for the performer. When that happens, everyone suffers.

This is why you often see the shots a beat or so behind the action as the director is playing catch up, not having a clue about photographing magic or what is coming next. Contrast the Copperfield specials where the star is in control, making certain the direction is just the way it ought to be.

Then there is the editing... Oulette was once quoted to me as saying that "everybody has four good minutes" and that he could find them by recording an act and editing out the stuff he didn't like. He did not do that with Penn and Teller or Bob Arno, they're much too big, but nearly everyone else got the slice and dice treatment which eliminated any real possibility of establishing a relationship with the audience.

Some of the rebroadcasts of the Sullivan show suffer the same approach with the editing removing all suspense-creating prologue. You end up with 30 seconds of a guy spinning 20 plates with no build up. Everything is climax and finale. You wonder what these guys' sex life is like.

The old variety acts knew how to work an audience, to establish rapport, to build suspense, and have a resolution that satisfied the audience.

Today's producers and directors, many of them too young to have any experience with variety, come from a "wham- bam school" of directing and producing. All they're interested in is quickly changing images, ala music videos. It is a victory of style over substance and content.

The noted actor Ed Harris once commented on his part in Alcatraz, shot and edited like a music video, that he never had a long enough scene to do any acting.

Sadly, when the product ends up being crap the producers and directors tell the network suits that "people are tired of magic," and they move on to ruin something else.

The current incarnation of lunacy is "Thirty Seconds to Fame" on, where else, Fox. It is the antithesis of what variety entertainment should be, a modern version of the Roman circus where bad acts are "killed" by audience vote.

Presumably, when the audience tires of trashing hack acts, some network will think of having the act work over a vat of sharks with the audience voting if they live or die. Doubtless there will be a steady supply of fools who'll try out for that show.
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Postby Guest » 11/01/02 04:30 PM

The WGM specials were conducted in fashion that gave the appearance of an academy awards show. Mac King's in the bar with Rita Rudner, and it almost seemed like he was just "across the street" from Alan Thicke, and the show proper. The stage acts were the main hub, with the close-up acts spoking outward (seemingly in the side rooms).

Though the show was not ever filmed in real time, it just had that feeling--I can't put my finger on it exactly. And whoever that was narrating the thing as they went into the breaks--that contibuted to a magical feeling as well.

I agree with the original post: My Thanksgiving eve, while still wonderful and magical, is missing that element to which I used to look forward.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 11/01/02 05:48 PM

I would love to see a half-hour series on HBO highlighting each week a single "variety" performer. The show would include both interview/behind-the-scenes segments and performance clips.

HBO's business model is almost exactly the reverse of broadcast TV, so this kind of show, which would have virtually no chance on a major network, might well flourish here. Plus you only need 13 episodes a year on HBO. I'm sure they could find 13 extremely talented performers from around the world, with interesting backgrounds and compelling acts.

They wouldn't all be magicians, of course. But that would be one of the strengths of the show.

All you'd really need to get this show green-lit is for David Mamet to agree to direct.
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Postby Guest » 11/01/02 05:53 PM

Or even David Lynch (Twin peaks)
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Postby Guest » 11/02/02 08:39 AM

I'm with Ron... Until now, I really didn't know the show wasn't filmed as a single performance series, but it gave that feel. I figured some of the segments were filmed prior to the actual show, but the way they all came together made it seem like it was all taking place at the same time.

There was magic happening inside on the stage, while people waited outside for their short spot right before and after commercial. It was great!

Pete also had a good point when he mentioned HBO doing a magic show. I think maybe they could actually pull it off. There are many successful shows on HBO and a magic show, if done right, should be no different.
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Postby mop krayz » 11/29/02 02:09 AM

Any possibility that one day someone might release WGM as a DVD set?
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Postby Terry » 11/29/02 06:37 AM

HBO experimented with magic segments years ago. If memory serves, they were about 15 minutes and hosted by Dick Cavett. I will review the video copy I have and let everyone know who participated if anyone is interested.
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Postby John McDonald » 11/29/02 09:54 AM

Originally posted by Kendrix:
I spoke with Gary Ouellet about 18 months ago and it was certainly not a lack of talent or magic. He had turned his interests to producing an adult show in las Vegas and the "Lumiere" show with Carmen Electra. He implied to me that the sponsorship was lacking and interest in Magic had decreased. Just like all forms of entertainment cycle up and down.
If the interest was really there, then, Gary Pudney would be putting together another WGM.
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Postby John McDonald » 11/29/02 10:11 AM

Originally posted by Kendrix:
I spoke with Gary Ouellet about 18 months ago and it was certainly not a lack of talent or magic. He had turned his interests to producing an adult show in las Vegas and the "Lumiere" show with Carmen Electra. He implied to me that the sponsorship was lacking and interest in Magic had decreased. Just like all forms of entertainment cycle up and down.
If the interest was really there, then, Gary Pudney would be putting together another WGM.
Akin to the chicken and the egg.

Which comes first the "interest" or the TV show?
Could it be the TV show and then the interest? People saying, "Hey did you see ..... last night?

Very often it is only after seeing some of the great magicians and performers that I have wanted to see them again. I had not seen Lennart Green, Juan Tamariz et al until I saw them on WGM in the UK.

There are plenty of superb magicians and performers who are a credit to our art. It was really sad to hear of Gary Oullet's death.
Who will fly the flag for magic on TV now?
The masked magician shows. I hope not!!!
Best John
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