Penn Talks Logistics of the Magic Show

Inside Magic Image of Magician and Author Penn JillettePenn’s Sunday School podcast is not for everyone but if you are an adult, into magic and, most importantly, into logistics, it is for you.

To say we love logistics would be an understatement of unwieldy proportions.

If logistics were a woman, we would flirt with it and hold our eye contact for an uncomfortably long period of time.  If it were a child, we would adopt it, put it in special schools to be taught by singing nuns and far from all evil.  If it were a dog, we would also adopt it and send it to special obedience schools with singing nun trainers.  We really love logistics.

We have seen David Copperfield on tour in cities all over America (that makes us a fan not a stalker – the clump of his hair that we bought on eBay makes us a collector, not a stalker either.  We have no innocent explanation for our ownership of a salad fork he once used, however).

The Copperfield show is always great but our favorite part is watching the load-in and load-out from and into the huge semi-tractor trailer bearing Mr. Copperfield’s face.  We cannot see that much because his crew is very discreet in their moving of the big crates and rigging.  Still, it holds our attention for a good hour or so.

When we were very young, we got to work for a day as a roustabout for the Clyde Beatty Cole Brothers Circus during its performance in Vero Beach, Florida.  We spent the morning helping to set up the grandstands, moving chairs, lifting things, pulling things and watching the big tent appear like magic.  We admired how the bosses knew exactly what to do and in what order.  We imagine they learned from experience to put all the stands and chairs into the area before they erected the tent walls; or figured out in advance to get the tent poles up and positioned within the holes before hoisting the canvas up.  They were pros and they knew logistics.  We were in love.

When Penn Jillette describes the behind the scenes of the Las Vegas Penn & Teller show on his weekly podcast, Penn’s Sunday School, we smile involuntarily.

This week’s podcast made us smile like a goof – as our Irish grandmother would say.

We usually listen whilst walking great distances to get our cardiovascular workout and test the range of the court-ordered anklet we wear.  We used to think that people were intolerant and judgmental but now realize that the strange looks we received were likely because of our glowing goofy smile – and probably the anklet (autographed by Lindsay Lohan).

In his latest episode, Penn recounted an experience from a recent show at the Rio Resort and Casino’s Penn & Teller Theater.  We won’t ruin the story for you but it has to do with a specially gimmicked jacket that resulted in him being fooled twice unbeknownst to the audience.  He recounted his internal dialogue as he tried to figure out what was happening whilst he was on stage performing a different effect. An incredible story and if you love logistics, you too will smile with the best of the goofs as you listen.

As we mentioned, his podcast has adult language and themes (whatever an adult theme is) so we do not recommend it for our younger readers or those who are easily offended but for those of us with very thick skin – in our case, from the incessant rubbing of the anklet – it is a wonderful chance to hear about the preparations and logistics of a big time magic show.

You can subscribe to the podcast through Apple’s iTunes store or directly through Penn’s Sunday School here.

Steinmeyer to Set Sail on ‘Magic to Do’ Show

magic-to-do logoMagician, inventor and Inside Magic Favorite writer, Jim Steinmeyer has signed with Princess Cruises to create the magical effects in a new show, Magic to Do.

Mr. Steinmeyer is famous for so many things, including his work with Doug Henning, Siegfried & Roy and David Copperfield, his books on the history of magic and his own performances.

If the title of the show sounds familiar, it is likely because you recall the opening number from Stephen Schwartz’ Broadway smash, Pippin.  We recall it fondly for the great music and use of Grant’s Flying Carpet illusion.  Mr. Schwartz was also responsible for the music in our favorite Broadway play of all time, The Magic Show starring Doug Henning.

Mr. Schwartz is slated to create four shows for the cruise line and has assembled coterie of top talent to help including producers, writers and lighting folks with multiple awards and great shows to their credit.

We need no encouragement to go on a cruise or to see anything Mr. Steinmeyer so if you put the two factors together, we should be on the next boat out of West Hollywood.

Learn more from Princess Cruises here.

Copperfield Tugs Our Heart Strings – Again

Inside Magic Image of David CopperfieldJust in case you needed one more reason to love magician David Copperfield.  We read today of his efforts to make a terminally ill child’s wish come true.

According to a post this afternoon on IJR’s website, Aiden Davis is only 10-year-old but has been fighting cancer since he was three.  His wish was to see to see David Copperfield perform.

Mr. Copperfield apparently heard about the young man and his wish through a social media campaign.  He granted it and then some.  He flew Aiden and his family to Las Vegas and dropped in on them once they checked into their hotel room.

They traveled by limo (Aiden’s first) to the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign where the two posed for a memorable photograph and then headed out for sightseeing and finally a visit to Mr. Copperfield’s hidden warehouse/museum of magic.

They finished off the visit with Aiden getting the best seat in the theater, in a perfect position to see Mr. Copperfield perform.

Mr. Copperfield expressed thanks to Aiden and his family for the opportunity to meet and spend time with “an example of strength and courage for him and all who have been fortunate enough to meet him.”

Like we said, in case you needed another reason to love Mr. Copperfield.  We’re going to get some tissues and be thankful.

Malaysian Magician Zlwin Chew Profiled

Inside Magic Image of Zlwin ChewThe Malaysian Sun has a great profile on magician Zlwin Chew this morning.

He went from interested student to major player in Malaysian magic with performances for celebrities, royal figures and the former prime minister.  He has traveled throughout Asia and his YouTube performances garnered the praise of David Copperfield.

We loved his answer on failure:

“If you are a musician and you played a wrong tune, chances are most people will not realise your mistake. But if something goes wrong in your magic tricks, your mistake will stand out like an elephant in a room. So you cannot afford to make mistakes. You need to keep on practicing until you perfect your trick. As far as I can remember, I have only failed once. It happened in the early part of my career. The best thing to do is to learn from the mistake and move on.”

He debunks any theory that magicians are practitioners of Black Magic and says he wants to change the public’s understanding of magic and the role of a magician.

“They think magicians are people with torn jeans with a deck of cards who performed on streets or people with glittering jackets and a magic wand who performed at children parties.

“In the past, whenever I tell people that I am a magician, they will immediately say: ‘Good, you can perform at my children’s party.’  Malaysians do not respect magicians. They are so ignorant about magicians.  I have dreams to perform large-scale illusions in the near future.”

Read the full profile at The Sun here.

Check out Mr. Chew’s impressive website here.

Updated: Copperfield to Settle Labor Dispute

Inside Magic Image of World Famous Magician David CopperfieldThe industry news source The Wrap is reporting magician David Copperfield has reached a settlement in the lawsuit brought by former and current employees of his show at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Mr. Copperfield’s people correctly observed, “There are two sides to every story, and even the settlement agreement states that there was no wrong doing.  The Copperfield team settled because they prefer the employees benefit from the money rather than a three year fight where the only people that win are the lawyers.”

We know because we wear the dual hats of magician and lawyer.

A federal judge in Las Vegas provided preliminary approval of a settlement where Mr. Copperfield, Chris Kenner, Diappearing Inc. and other defendants would pay just over $550,000,00.

Fifteen named plaintiffs filed suit just about a year ago claiming they were denied overtime pay that was due to them.

According to The Wrap, the suit accused Copperfield of “consciously implement[ing] a system of coercion and deception aimed at denying employees their rights to overtime pay.”

The settlement would cover the 15 named plaintiffs as well as all “non-exempt present and former employees” who worked with the show between January 2012 and December 2013.

Under the proposed settlement, the defendants — who, in addition to Copperfield, include Chris Kenner, David Copperfield’s Disappearing Inc., Backstage Employment and Referral Inc., and Imagine Nation Company — “continue to deny liability under any of the Plaintiff’s claims.”

If the settlement goes through, class members of the suit would receive “on average $6,355.84 in overtime pay and liquidated damages,” which is “very significant when compared to similar collective action cases,” the motion for preliminary approval of the settlement says.

A fairness hearing for the proposed settlement is scheduled for May 26.