Mandrake the Magician

Houdini Breaks Records for History Channel

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniThe Wrap – an industry journal – reports the great news that the History Channel’s Houdini was the most-watched cable miniseries premier in 2014 with 3.7 million viewers.

That’s good news for the show but even better: 1.2 million of the viewers were between the ages of 18-49 years old – the “Money Demo.”

That’s probably even better news for future Houdini projects — it proves the Master Magician has legs.

 

A Regular Little Houdini Takes the Stage in South Wales

Inside Magic Image from A Regular Little HoudiniA Regular Little Houdini, written and performed by Daniel LLewelyn-Williams, will open at the south Wales theatre Stiwdio Stepni on Thursday, September 11.

We read of the show on Llanelli Star‘s on-line site and were fascinated by the story and the magic that will apparently performed in the show.

The one-man show surrounds a young man growing up in the south Wales town of Newport between 1905 and 1913. The great magician visits Wales twice and apparently has some conflict with law enforcement as he works to build notoriety for his appearances.

“The story however documents the years between his famous visits looking at the changes in Wales from the young boy’s perspective.

Audiences are shown periods of industrial growth in south Wales, including the building of the transporter bridge and The Newport dock disaster of 1909 which killed 39 people.”

The article notes the show will feature “a brand new magic trick created specifically for the production by a secret magician who works with David Copperfield.”

What is the trick? Please tell us.

Mr Llewelyn-Williams said the trick has been “incorporated into the show and [he is] sure audiences will enjoy it.”

We hope one of Inside Magic’s loyal readers in the south Wales realm will let us know more about the show and the special effect. We hate not knowing.

Read more here.

Houdini Miniseries Gets Good Reviews in the Trades

houdini water torture cellThe Hollywood Reporter‘s review of the History Channel’s Houdini miniseries is a mixed change bag.

They have high praise for Adrien Brody and his “dynamic performance” that “brings Harry Houdini’s illusions to life.” “History’s Houdini miniseries is a curious carousel of the magician’s life, guided by a frizzy-haired, exuberant and bulked-up Adrien Brody.”

The series is adapted from the controversial 1976 book, Houdini: A Mind in Chains: A Psychoanalytic Portrait and apparently uses some deft editing and camera work to take viewers inside the great magician’s psyche and secrets. The result is a surrealistic weaving of “psychological elements, zooming camerawork, frenetic editing, a modern soundtrack and some well-placed animation to illustrate how Houdini’s tricks worked.”

Boo. Hiss.

Viewers will have a chance to see Houdini’s Vanishing Elephant and the Chinese Water Torture Cell but we are hoping the secrets to these two great effects are not revealed.

“The miniseries nails the most important thing: spectacle. Edel’s refreshingly dynamic direction and Brody’s buoyant performance allow Houdini’s tricks to retain their wonder, even for the jaded modern viewer. That’s a magical feat indeed.”

We are looking forward to its premiere on Monday, September 1st and 2nd at 9 p.m. We will close our eyes when they get to the scary parts or expose tricks though.

Dynamo: Stage Magic Needs Reinventing

Inside Magic Image of DynamoUK Magician Dynamo says traditional magic shows like those of David Copperfield and Siegfried & Roy helped magic but it is time to bring stage magic “up to date” and change “what people see as the stage magic show.”

He is moving from the television series Magician Impossible arena and stage venues and looks to ‘reinvent’ live magic.

Dynamo told reporters at a recent Edinburgh International Television Festival that he is going to hit the road.

“This is the final series of Magician Impossible. I think everyone wants to see me do it live and I think the possibilities in the live arena for magic is open for someone like myself to step into,” he said.

He added: “The magic shows we think of on the stage and in theatres are David Copperfield and Siegfried and Roy. What they did for magic was phenomenal but now it’s time to reinvent [stage shows], and to bring up to date what people see as the stage magic show. I will have a go at that.”

By “have a go,” Dynamo means he will attempt or try to do something.  “Have a go” is metric for “try, attempt or endeavor.”

Adrien Brody on Exposure of Houdini’s Escapes for Mini-Series

Inside Magic Image of Adrien Brody as HoudiniNewspaper writers have their lingo just like magicians.

In the same way magicians use shorthand to describe actions like “loading,” “culling,” “palming” and “cold reading a hot number,” newspaper people describe their practice of leaving the most important part of an article for later paragraphs as “burying the lead.”

When we first read of this practice, we thought it was an environmental faux pas because in our brain, we interpreted “lead” as “lead” and not “leed.” Apparently, “lead” was on our mind and in our crib’s shiny, gnawable paint as a child.

The New York Times puff piece on Adrien Brody and his performance as Harry Houdini in the upcoming History Channel mini-series, Houdini buried the lead big time.

The article discusses Mr. Brody’s love of magic – he was a performer as a child and young man before winning an Oscar® for his role in The Pianist at the age of 26 – his idolization of Houdini and his (Mr. Brody’s) matted “hat hair,” his enjoyment of green drinks and his pride in being bruised by Jackie Chan. Great stuff and fun to read.

But it is not until the next to last paragraph (or “graph” in newspaper talk) that we learn his beef with the series.

Regardless of whether “Houdini” is a hit, Mr. Brody said he is proud of the work he did in the mini-series. He does have one quibble, though. The History Channel decided to disclose the secret methods Houdini used to escape. “I acquiesced because it’s all available online,” he said. “But a magician never reveals his tricks.”

We were excited about the series – and still are – but don’t buy the rationale for exposing secrets used by Houdini and folks performing today.

“I acquiesced because it’s all available online” does not cut the low-cal condiment with us. There are a lot of things that are available online but fortunately – because we hate scenes of brutality, murder, torture, emotional abuse and shaming – the fact that those things are on-line does not mean they are appropriate to be seen or to be shown.

“But a magician never reveals his tricks,” Mr Brody says.

But he did.

Houdini wouldn’t have.

History’s Houdini premieres Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. ET.