Why is TV Magic So Unmagical?

Carreras ltd cards spotting the cardEntertainment Weekly writer Brittany Frederick asks why with so much magic on television recently, we are not feeling magical?

She points to the recent spate of shows about our craft such as Criss Angel BeLIEve; Syfy’s Wizard Wars, Close Up Kings, and Troy: Street Magic; The CW’s resurrection of Masters of Illusion and importing of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.   She likes the craft but apparently not the way it is being translated to television sets.  It is tough to disagree with her take.

She points out that Masters of Illusion has been squished from an hour-long show to 30 minutes (including commercials).  The net effect is that “Dean Cain has to go through acts so quickly that you barely have time to let the tricks sink in.”

Ms. Frederick bemoans – again with our wholehearted agreement – the move from logistics of putting on a magic show to the effect in isolation.
“What was so fantastic about Criss Angel BeLIEve when Spike unveiled it in October 2013 was that it was almost about everything but the performance. We got to know Angel a lot better and understand what it was like for him to do these challenging tricks every day. We learned about the history involved with many of his demonstrations. We met his team, and were able to listen in on their discussions about how to make magic happen, whether it was building a prop or finding the perfect location. We saw when things didn’t go according to plan and how they dealt with those situations. These are elements of magic that most TV audiences probably haven’t even thought about.”
Audiences are now taken from appreciating the history of a particular effect and the very real logistical challenges of presenting the trick, to merely asking whether an effect is performed with camera tricks or dodgy editing.

Check out her full article and well-considered opinions here.

Magic Site Hacked – Ours

Inside Magic Image of Innovative BunnyWe have been off-line for quite a while.  We were hacked by someone (or something) and have had to restore our databases of stories going back to the late 1930’s.  Why people would hack a humble magic news blog is beyond us, but then again, so is algebra and cutting straight with sharp scissors.

The good news is that we have restored almost all of the databases.  We lost a few packets of information but most of those articles were from the era when we were publishing according to the whims of our old editor, Paw Lawton.  Paw has gone to meet his reward.  By that, we mean that he turned his sister into the deputies, collected her bounty and is now living in Lakeland, Florida.

The Paw Lawton stretch of stories mostly dealt with thing Paw found interesting, like gambling and the history of gambling and his personal history of gambling and inappropriate limericks.  For the staff at Inside Magic, those were dark days.  Paw was beloved – probably, by someone, maybe his mom – and an institution in the Hardy magic family.  He had worked with and for two of our predecessors in the Hardy magic dynasty (pronounced “digh-nsty” and not, “da nasty”).

So, we lost many of the Paw Lawton stories – but somehow we will carry on.   We must.  Not because it is what Paw would have wanted – he would have wanted a lot more gambling stories and provocative images illustrating limericks – but because we are contractually obligated to do so.

It is good to be back.

Speak of Fantasio!

IBM Jacksonville Convention LogoWe were just mentioning on this very virtual vehicle that we went through an influential and formative period when we owned every type of cane and candle made by the great Fantasio.  Hours later we received this great press release from the IBM.

The I.B.M. Convention Just Went From GREAT to AWESOME!!!!

Haven’t made your reservations for Jacksonville?  What are you waiting for?  JUST ANNOUNCED – the incomparable lineup for the Fantasio Tribute Show. Ricardo “Fantasio” Roucau will be joined by his friends from Argentina for the show that will be the highlight of the summer convention season!  See the most awarded magician from the FLASOMA convention – Gustavo Raley; Gus Yelar’s mesmerizing hand shadows; Daba and Cielo performing mental telepathy; Sebak will performing the act he will present the week before at FISM; Fred Karis; and of course Fantasio!  You won’t see this show anyplace BUT Jacksonville!

For our younger magicians (ages 13-19) don’t forget we will be presenting the Lance Burton Teen Seminar immediately before the convention – July 13-15.  If you are registered for the convention – you can attend this event at NO EXTRA CHARGE.  Since 2003, this has been the premier seminar for young magicians.  Join us and see why!  For more information, contact Becki Wells at beckiwells@cox.net.

We still have some spaces available in our Stage and Close-Up contests. Go for the Gold in Jacksonville.  Over $14,500 in cash and prizes available!  Sign up today.  For more information go to www.magician.org/convention/contest.

The complete convention schedule is now available:  http://www.magician.org/convention/convention-schedule

To register go to http://www.magician.org/convention/upcoming-convention TODAY!  Jacksonville HERE WE COME!

Copperfield’s Pool Floods Penthouse

Inside Magic Image of David CopperfieldYou may have already heard but in case you missed it, Illusionist David Copperfield’s Manhattan rooftop swimming pool burst and flooded his penthouse apartment and those in the 30 stories below.

Apparently the pump for his lap pool went on the fritz and pumped water throughout his “four-story, greenhouse-like penthouse.”

It could have been a real tragedy because Mr. Copperfield keeps some of his most valuable artwork and antiques.

What kind of antiques? Our kind of antiques.  He has a wonderful collection of vintage arcade pieces from Coney Island.  We would like to think that when we get really wealthy, we will have such collectibles in our east coast apartment.  We’re not being ironic or even sarcastic.  We mean it. We find it depressing when millionaires invest in artwork that we wouldn’t pay to see.  We would pay good money to see a collection of vintage arcade pieces from the home of cool carny things, Coney Island.  Perhaps that thinking is why we will never be a millionaire.

The water did damage the elevators for a day or so and there was damage to the apartments below all the way down to the basement.

Mr. Copperfield’s attorney told the press, “David was terrified, because he has these rare, vintage Coney Island machines, which are priceless, irreplaceable antiques, including a fortune teller, strength testers, an electric shock machine and shooting galleries. But for some unknown reason — or stroke of luck — these machines were spared by the water. There’s a magic trick called ‘The Bullet Catch,’ where the illusionist catches the bullet in his teeth, and David thinks he really dodged a bullet here.”

Mr. Copperfield was not in New York at the time – he was in Las Vegas, performing at the MGM Resort.

Houdini Museum Announces Hollywood Tour

Inside Magic Image of The Grim Game PosterInside Magic Favorites Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz  will be traveling west to lead tour of Hollywood Houdini Sites on what would have been the great magician’s 141st Birthday, March 24.

Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz recently uncovered Houdini’s long lost film The Grim Game are in Hollywood as special guests of Turner Classic Movies to introduce the world premiere of the film.

Those in the know consider The Grim Game the best of Houdini’s five feature films but it has not been seen by the public for more than 96 years.  Thanks to Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz, the film will be featured as part of the finale of the TCM Film Festival, March 29.

After the Hollywood showing, it will be exhibited at The Directors Guild in New York City and then in Scranton, Pennsylvania – the home of the incredible Houdini Museum.  Turner Classic Movies intends to broadcast the film on their cable channel later in the year.

The Hollywood tour will begin on March 24 at 10 AM in front of the Hollywood Heritage Museum at 2100 Highland Ave. The museum was once part of the Famous Players-Lasky Studio where Houdini made The Grim Game.  Dorothy Dietrich will perform magic for those in attendance and then she and Mr. Brookz will join John Cox for a private Hollywood tour.  Mr. Cox is the host of the most important Houdini website in the universe, Wild About Harry.

The Houdini Museum has the largest and only continuing traveling exhibit on Houdini, “Houdini Road Show,” that has finally all come back from being on display at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino in West Palm Beach.

Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Dick Brookz are also currently starring in Psychic Theater’s Haunted Seance!  The show is the longest running performance of its kind in history – more than 10 years at the Houdini Museum Theater.

Visit The Houdini Museum at http://www.houdini.org.