Was Murray SawChuck Ripped Off?

Inside Magic Image of Magician Murray SawChuckLas Vegas Magician Murray SawChuck is justifiably peeved to learn his spectacular Steam Train effect has been appropriated by The Illusionists.

You recall the Steam Train Illusion, right?  Mr. SawChuck performed it on national television a few years back.  It was pretty cool and perhaps that is why it is featured in The Illusionists’ act.

Mr. SawChuck told Vegas News, “You will also notice the train is an exact copy of MY steam train illusion I designed and invented in 2010 for America’s Got Talent Semi-Finals being seen by more than 22 million viewers.”

We have no information that would cause us to doubt Mr. SawChuck.  But to be fair, we have not heard The Illusionists’ side of the story.

Mr. SawChuck said, “Most of the The Illusionist cast is from Las Vegas and they are well aware that the Steam Train Illusion is my idea yet I didn’t receive ONE phone call from anyone giving me the heads up or a nod that they wanted his idea of a steam train locomotive on stage.

“It’s a fact there has never been an illusion with a steam train locomotive inside a theater before I created mine for America’s Got Talent in 2010.  In this business you can’t patent an idea so it’s very easy to have your brand or idea ripped off without any credit!”

Actually, one can never patent an idea but we get his point.  A patent protects only new, nonobvious and useful item.  A great idea is a great idea but unworthy of a patent until it is utilized in an invention.

That being said, Mr. SawChuck could have applied for a patent for the trick and if we were wearing only our Intellectual Property Attorney hat (it is a nice bowler-style with a dark blue feather stuck in the band) we would have said he could pursue it.

But if we wear our magician hat (a collapsible fez – sort of a cross between Cardini and Tommy Cooper), we would tell him to not apply for a patent.

A patent allows its owner to exclude others from selling or using the invention.  That’s great but to receive this time-limited protection, the application needs to specify the method and construction of the device in excruciating detail.

Good news: no one else can use the device.  Bad news: everyone knows how to build the device.  As we say around the office, you can take a secret to your grave, but not to the Patent Office.

Mr. SawChuck really had no way – short of depending on the good intentions of his colleagues in our wondrous art – to keep others from performing the exact same effect.

A wise judge once told us, “the thinnest piece of bacon has two sides.”  We thought he was talking about the rather miserly portions available to prosecutors in the courthouse café, but it turns out he was advising us to always get both sides of any story before making up our mind.  We have not heard from The Illusionists yet but when we do, we will update this story.

Mr. SawChuck will be headlining his own show at The Tropicana in Las Vegas this spring.  You can check out his home page here.

Penn Jillette Spills the Beans on Cooking Competition

Inside Magic Image of Magician and Author Penn JilletteMagician Penn Jillette teased listeners across several podcast episodes of his Penn’s Sunday School.  He told listeners he was learning to cook for television in connection with a cooking competition show but that was about it.  He would not divulge the network, the type of competition or even whether there was big money at stake.

Penn did share, however, that cooking is to cooking on television as music is to military music.

At home, you may carefully open packages, measure quantities and cook appropriate quantities for the number of intended guests.  On TV, boxes are sliced open, careful measuring is for the birds and you always cook more than enough so that you can choose the best version of the dish and toss the rest.

The press embargo has apparently been lifted and Penn was able to speak with The Las Vegas Sun columnist Robin Leach.

Penn is competing on behalf of his favorite charity Opportunity Village on the third season of the celebrity competition “Rachael vs. Guy.”  He is on Team Rachel Ray with Jake Pavelka, comedy actress Judy Gold and Florence Henderson.

Penn would not disclose whether he was successful.

“You have to watch to see how far I go,” Penn told Robin Leach. “I feel pretty good, but it is top secret.  One of the things I did to prepare for the show is I went around to different chefs in Las Vegas and was taught a lot about how to cook on television.

“I like the Opportunity Village project because the idea is so important.  I’m hoping that it will grow even more and in other areas of the country.  People who saw Opportunity Village when I competed on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ have thought about doing it in other cities.

“That was really my reason for doing Donald Trump’s show and now on Rachael Ray’s team. Besides raising money for Opportunity Village, we get to show there are other ideas for how to assist people with disabilities.

Read more about Penn’s on-going projects in Robin Leach’s full article in The Las Vegas Sun here.

Penn & Teller: First Ever UK Tour Dates Announced

Inside Magic Image of Penn & TellerMagicians of great ability Penn & Teller will be returning to the United Kingdom in February 2014 to entertain  fans in Manchester, Birmingham and London.

The incredible duo bring their Vegas act to Manchester, then Birmingham and onto London for a five big nights at the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith in London.

This is their first UK tour but they are familiar with the environs as hosts of their own ITV television show, Fool Us.

Tour promoters promise no two shows will be the same and so to us it makes sense to attend every show in every location.

Penn & Teller have about four decades of sold out runs on Broadway, world tours and of course Las Vegas.  Their television shows have garnered Emmys and an ever-increasing fan base.

Named ‘Las Vegas Magicians of the Year’ six times for their nightly performance at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, they have repeat visits from magicians, magic-lovers and folks out for a profoundly entertaining evening.

We have it on very good authority that Penn and Teller will be appear in June 2014 at Manchester Palace Theatre on Friday the 13th, Birmingham Alexandra Theatre on Sunday the 15th and from Wednesday the 18th through to the 22nd at London’s Eventim Apollo Hammersmith.

Tickets go on sale Friday 6th December at www.livenation.co.uk or www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

Criss Angel to Close Vegas Show for 3 Months

Inside Magic Image of Criss Angel Reports were received from The Las Vegas Sun that magician Criss Angel that will take a break from his rigorous schedule to have surgery on an injured shoulder.

The star of Believe will put the show on hold for three months in 2014 to have surgery on damaged tendons in a shoulder.  He tore the tendons two years ago and put off surgery at the time to film his new series for Spike TV and performing at The Luxor.

The tendons tore a second time whilst performing an upside down straight jacket escape in Times Square.  “There is no alternative. It’s three times as bad now,” Mr. Angel told The Las Vegas Sun. “I have to go under the knife. There is no other choice. I’ve already put it off far too long.”

To do otherwise risked permanent damage that would end his performing career.

The doctors will begin their work in January and he will host a show featuring other magicians in February and March before returning to the stage in April.

UPDATED: How to Close a Show in 10 Days

Inside Magic Image of Writer and Performer Maren Wade

Maren Wade is a gifted performer, singer, dancer, skilled author and a really nice person.

We went over-the-top in our review of her essay on Robin Leach’s Vegas DeLuxe site.  Ms. Wade wanted to make sure readers understood she was not criticizing any particular producer or show.  She wrote:

“My intention on writing How To Close A Show In Ten Days was to poke fun at experiences that many performers have encountered in the entertainment industry and to praise those producers who have had successful shows.   I don’t, nor have I ever claimed my outrageous stories to be true much less to be true based on my own experiences.

“Much of what I wrote was apocryphal, over the top exaggerations of “war” stories swapped by various entertainers over drinks.  It was never intended as a criticism of any producer in particular or any producer with whom I have ever had the honor or privilege to work.

I have to make clear that I did not write the editor’s note and I did not mention anything about my credits.  The fact is over time shows can close regardless of how long they were running no matter how successful they may have been.

“Where there is a beginning, there is an end.  I acknowledge there are many factors at play and that producing is a challenging business with lots of hurdles to overcome.  It has been an honor to have performed in every show for which I have been credited.

“I have developed deep and meaningful relationships with many people from the production teams, cast and crews that I have worked with and feel inspired every day to be surrounded with so many talented people who have such enormous ambition, drive and success.”

She is not only a great writer, she is classy and kind.

Personally, we would never put up with our hijinx and wise acre ways.

In fact, we would have been a lot less diplomatic and probably gone over the top again by attacking our own writing for being unprofessional  and taking great liberties with the original story.  Fortunately, we are so lazy we likely would not have even bothered to write us.

Ms. Wade  shared what she learned from her friends in the business in a satirical piece on Vegas DeLuxe.  She served as a guest essayist whilst Robin Leach is on his annual summer vacation.

While her helpful instruction is not directly related to magic productions, her instruction can help any show avoid a short run and embarrassing close.

For instance:

What is the No. 1 rule of business? Keep costs down. Here are some effective ways to do this: Advertising is completely overrated. Why should you spend money to make money? Your show should be Vegas’ best kept secret, so secret that no one knows about it.

Read her full post here.

We hereby extend an offer to Ms. Wade.  Please join Inside Magic’s writing team.  We love snark and especially well-written and insightful snark.

You’ve got what it takes to make it in the magic writing biz, Ms. Wade.  Give us a call.

[ Edited 4:23 pm]