David Blaine: The Next Last Greatest Magician in the World?

Inside Magic Image of Ed Mishell DrawingMagician and endurance maven David Blaine takes to the air this evening in the United States through ABC television to ask Real or Magic?  He is joined in this endeavor by Will Smith, Olivia Wilde, Woody Allen, Stephen Hawking and other celebrities who, we are informed, will react to his tricks.

We like David Blaine and believe he has done much to revitalize our wonderful craft and feel badly that we want him to be different than the way he is.  He is not Doug Henning or David Copperfield or Harry Blackstone Jr. but he is very talented and, in his own way, charismatic and captivating.

Still, we miss Doug Henning performing the Water Torture Tank live on national television.  We miss David Copperfield’s well produced escapes and illusions performed on tape but with the assurance the home audience was seeing the events unfold in real time without camera tricks.  We miss Harry Blackstone Jr. for many, many reasons; not the least of which was his wonderful persona – so serious and light-hearted at the same time and able to convince even the most jaded teenager that he could really perform magic.

But David Blaine is bringing magic to the audience of the times where camera trickery is expected and even celebrated.  Attention spans are short and expectations are high.   Each generation of magic faces a similar challenge.  Jim Steinmeyer’s outstanding book, The Last Greatest Magician in the World tells of Howard Thurston making the transition from vaudeville to the traveling, full-evening show and the ultimate demise of that elaborate show type.  We know of Thurston today because he survived and conquered the new formats and met his audience where they sat.  They were no longer in vaudeville halls watching one of eight shows in a day’s time.  They came to see a full-length show and he had the props and chops to show them what they wanted to see – year after year.

We like David Blaine and wish him the best with his newest take on a classic art.  If there is anyone that can again move magic in a new direction, it is David Blaine.

Great Magicians Kevin and Cindy Spencer Get Great Press

Inside Magic Image of Kevin and Cindy Spencer from their Web Site spencersmagic.comTwo of the nicest magicians we know, Kevin and Cindy Spencer are set to delight audiences in Greenville, Tennessee this Friday evening.

Their show “Theatre of Illusion” includes more than 12 tons of illusions and favorably compares to David Copperfield’s traveling cavalcade in terms of size and amazement per second.   They stuff (neatly) their show into a 65-foot customized truck and trailer and, like the great magic shows of the past, travel the world.

Mr. Spencer’s background is clinical psychology and so it seems fitting to trust one’s sense of perception to him.  “I was going to help people’s minds, but now I just mess with them.”

We cannot think of nicer people to mess with our minds.

Of course, it could be that Kevin and Cindy Spencer have just messed with our minds so well that we would think that.  We need to stop thinking about that possibility, though because it gives us a headache in our eyeball.

The Theatre of Illusion takes the best parts of Broadway and arena-style rock concerts to bring magic to family audiences.  We have it on good authority, they are the only artists in history to be named Performing Arts Entertainers of the Year for a record-breaking six consecutive years and have twice been named America’s Best Entertainers.

To support our claim that they are a great people as well as great magicians, we note first that Kevin Spencer’s outreach program The Healing of Magic – a partnership with local healthcare providers that uses simple magic tricks in rehabilitation.  The program brings together caregivers, medical professionals and patients.

As if that was not sufficient to prove their inherent goodness, the Spencers have consistently supported Inside Magic over the last 60 years we have been on the webs.  We receive updates from them as they crisscross the globe.

If you are in the Greenville, Tennessee area this week, be sure to check out one of the reasons we are so proud of our association with magicians.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.npacgreeneville.com, in person at the NPAC box office or by calling (423) 638-1679.

David Kwong’s Misdirectors Guild Makes Movie Magic

Inside Magic Image of Now You See Me Movie PosterMagician and movie consultant David Kwong founded The Misdirectors’ Guild as “an elite group of magicians who specialize in illusion and deception for film and television.”  He and his colleagues have been busy of late with Hollywood films like The Incredible Burt WonderstoneNow You See Me and Red Lights starring Robert De Niro as a mind-reader and mentalist. (It apparently had a limited release in the United States but we heard the first thirty minutes featured the debunking of spiritualism tricks).

The Misdirectors Guild site lists several other Mr. Kwong and his group helped.  It is a pretty impressive list.

“Magic is all storytelling,” says Mr. Kwong told FastCoCreate.com. “It has an arc that’s introduced, then played out for the big reveal. There’s a foreshadowing along the way. I like the idea of putting clues out there is plain sight–introducing the simplest of magic tricks, then making their concept play out in a big way.”

He would know.  Mr. Kwong is not only a real-life magician, but he has also worked with some of the true big names in our business; like Ricky Jay and David Copperfield.  For Now You See Me, Mr. Kwong worked with the director and screenwriters to “make the illusions in the film as plausible as possible, while furthering the plot.”  That is a tough job.  There has to be a temptation to save the time and money necessary to teach actors sleight of hand with a few well-placed computer-generated imagery (“CGI”).

Mr. Kwong was on the Now You See Me set for about eight months teaching card sleights to the cast.  He claims the film tried to keep the magic real.  “All the illusions in the film are based on real practical effects,” Mr. Kwong told FastCoCreate.com. “Even a 3-D projection done on the side of a building is now used as a marketing tool. The actors employed a fair amount of real sleight of hand.”
Continue reading David Kwong’s Misdirectors Guild Makes Movie Magic

Irish Magician Keith Barry Hangs with Copperfield & Harrelson

Inside Magic Image of Keith Barry's Poster for The Dark SideMagician Keith Barry gets big space in Leanne Moore’s Showbiz Roundup – a must read for Irish entertainment fans.

Mr. Barry is back in his home country after walking the red carpet with David Copperfield at the premiere of Now You See Me.  Mr. Barry served as chief hypnotism and magic consultant for Woody Harrelson and the film’s writers.

We hear the movie is a “magic-based heist movie” — a genre we would like to see expand — and Mr. Barry dedicated more than six months to help the team “a very real edge to the film.”

Mr. Barry will begin his 12-night run of The Dark Side at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre starting on July 10th.  We initially thought the title referred to toast but apparently it is tied into magic and mystery rather than irregularly heated slices of bread.  Good choice, Mr. Barry.  According to a study we just made up, there are far more people who will pay to see magic and mystery than toast.

Visit Keith Barry’s web site here.

Order your tickets to Keith Barry’s new show at the beautiful Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland here.

View a trailer and learn more about this cool looking film at its official website here.

Read about what causes inconsistent toasting of bread in non-commercial toasters.

Read more in Leanne Moore’s Showbiz Roundup on the  TV3 Xposé Entertainment page.

David Copperfield Extends Contract, Gets Theater Name

Inside Magic Image of David CopperfieldRobin Leach reports via his always fun  to read Strip Scribbles that Inside Magic Favorite David Copperfield and the MGM Grand have agreed to a three-year contract extension.  According to MGM’s president, Scott Sibella The Hollywood Theater might be renamed The David Copperfield Theater this fall.

The theater will be dark for a about a month this September to convert the space into a new configuration.  Mr. Leach also reports Mr. Copperfield will have a new show with new illusions for the show’s re-opening just before Christmas.

Check out the entire Strip Scribbles: Did you know that Elvis Presley had a son? – Las Vegas Sun News.