Posts Tagged ‘David Blaine’

Steve Cohen hunts legendary magic; movie covers legendary magician

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Today David Blaine gets bolted in a shocking stunt sure to conduct itself in an amped up way. Watt else would be be talking about? OK, no more electricity puns.

As David Blaine executes his latest stunt, Electrified, we’ll wish him well and thrill for his accomplishment. And watching those bolts and listening to the sounds as electricity fires from the Tesla coils is pretty hypnotic. But we’ll also wish there was more magic to go with his stunt.

Fortunately, there’s some good magic coming to film and TV that is well worth catching. One features one of magic’s top performers chasing down vintage illusions; the other is a look at a legend.

Steve Cohen: “Lost Magic Decoded”

A new special soon to air on the History Channel features one of today’s best close-up magicians exploring yesterday’s legendary tricks and effects. Steve Cohen usually performs in a tip-top tux at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. But in “Lost Magic Decoded,” he travels far beyond the confines of the Big Apple to locations across the U.S. and around the world.

His mission is to hunt down legendary magic, such as the Turk, the light and heavy chest and the Indian rope trick. When he finds something that is just legend, he leaves it be. But where he finds truth, he re-creates and performs the effect.

The special looks brilliant and compelling, and promises a great look at the illusionists and routines of the past. It will debut from 9 to 11 p.m. U.S. Eastern on Oct. 18.

“Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay”

This film, debuting this week at the New York Film Festival, features a look into the life of another close-up magic master. Jay received lessons from trendsetters, movers and shakers in the world of magic, such as Al Flosso, Slydini, Cardini, Roy Benson and Francis Carlyle.

From his first performances as a 7-year-old with his grandfather Max Katz to his recent roles in TV and moves, most everything is covered. A majority of the documentary features his work in magic, from his early studies to the beautiful flourishes he performs between scenes.

Early reviews are favorable, and those are by laymen. We’re excited to see this for ourselves.

Power of close-up magic proven: Reporter blown away by magician

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Dynamo and Tony Strange are the latest magicians to prove us right: Magic on TV only STRENGTHENS the performances we give people face-to-face.

We hear some magicians complain and commiserate that TV shows such as the ones Dynamo, David Blaine and Criss Angel weaken their own magic, spoiling tricks and ruining endings. But people usually chalk up magic tricks on TV to TV trickery — camera edits, loaded audiences and the like. That sets them up perfectly for what you do.

When people see real close-up, they find out how real magic can be.

One such person is Suzie Pike, a reporter for the Granthan (England) Journal. When Strange called up and said he could do the same kinds of things Dynamo does on “Magician Impossible,” she said she didn’t quite believe it:

“Being a little skeptical about camera angles and the likes on TV shows I was looking forward to seeing if I could be fooled face-to-face. Let’s just say he managed it with every single trick.”

Strange performed a brilliant six-minute set for Pike and videographer Toby Roberts. He did some classic tricks that most of you should be familiar with, including an invisible deck routine and some rubber band tricks. Just watch the reactions he gets from Pike:

Why should you care?

That performance got great press coverage for Strange, who is available for weddings, parties and other events. Not only did he get featured in the video, he got a story about him in the paper — a brilliant two-fer. He also is seeking to set up a magician’s club around his area, and was able to get that message into his story. Using a link to a popular TV show, Strange was able to make a local contact and hook a reporter’s interest.

(A pro tip about media coverage: More newspapers are seeking to add extra digital content to their websites, such as videos. Unlike TV reporters, who want to be featured on camera, newspaper folks are more inclined to put all the focus on you, such as the video above. Use that to your advantage when trying to drum up some media coverage.)

Dynamo also owes a bit of a thank-you to Strange: When Pike watchese the next episode of “Magician Impossible,” how do you think she’ll feel about “TV magic” now that she’s seen the real thing?

Staniforth effect could be part of Blaine’s final stunt special

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Talk about living the dream. Magician Nate Staniforth was already on his way to breaking big when he appeared on Crash Course 2 performing an awesome ambitious card routine. (Editor’s note: Seeing his hands shake cured me over worries about my own hand shakes.)

The Daily Iowan reported on Staniforth’s upcoming performance Friday at the University of Iowa, and found out that street magic legend David Blaine called him up about one of his illusions.

“I had just got done doing a show, and I get this phone call from some weird number,” Staniforth said. “And it turned out to be David Blaine. At first I thought it was one of my friends messing with me, but it really was him telling me that he wanted to use one of my illusions for his upcoming special. He was one of my heroes growing up, so it was quite an experience.”

Killer. One of Nate’s effects could be part of what’s rumored to be Blaine’s last stunt special.

Friday’s show is also a keystone portion of an upcoming documentary he’s been producing. A 12-person crew has followed him on tour for the last eight months.

Also, check out the awesome pictures of Staniforth taken by the Iowan’s Kathleen Willem.

New book: In Thurston vs. Houdini rivarly, Thurston was the winner

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

One of the debates we always hear people ask about is about who’s better: David Blaine or Criss Angel? Even though the two magicians haven’t locked themselves into any public rivalry, fans easily join one of the two sides.

Back in the vaudeville age, there was a similar battle: Harry Houdini and Howard Thurston. Where Blaine and Angel never acknowledge any sort of battle, Houdini and Thurston competed openly.

A new book argues that, even though history has mainly forgotten him, Thurston was the victor.

Legendary illusion creator Jim Steinmeyer writes at length about Thurston in his new book, “The Last Greatest Magician in the World.” The book gives a detailed look into the illusionist’s life and career, from his con-man and carnival beginnings to his storied performances. According to Kenneth Sullivan of the Wall St. Journal, Steinmeyer also does a wonderful job at describing what a magician’s life was like back in that golden age. You think magician’s have rivarlies now? Nothing like it was back then.

But the battle with Houdini takes center stage. As Sullivan wrote, it’s clear Steinmeyer thinks Houdini won. Because, as he states in this video, Houdini didn’t really seek to be a magician. Though Houdini succeeded at becoming a legend and household name, it wasn’t for his career as a performing magician. Thurston had that covered, with a fantastic illusion show that packed more and more into each repeat performance.

That thought puts an interesting twist on the Blaine vs. Angel debate, doesn’t it?

2010: A forgettable year for magic on TV? Not quite

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Judging from a breakdown by Jane Murphy on TV Squad, you might think so. She laments that David Copperfield, David Blaine and Criss Angel didn’t have TV specials this year. We agree about Copperfield, but Angel had season six of Mindfreak and Blaine had two new specials (although he didn’t film any new magic).

While Murphy didn’t catch those two things, she did catch a lot of great magic moments on the flat panel in 2010. Some things that we would add to her list if we were writing it:

  • Magicians finally got some respectful treatment on America’s Got Talent. The battle between Murray SawChuck, Michael Grasso, Dan Sperry and Antonio Restivo was classic, and how they competed against non-magical acts was even better.
  • David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and others followed Ellen DeGeneres’ lead and put more close-up magicians on their shows with special weeks. Ellen also upped her favorable treatment with her own Magic Week.
  • And let’s not forget how magicians have spread out to take on TV roles outside of simple magic shows. Lance Burton was on “Cash Cab,” Justin Kredible hosted “Cupcake Wars,” Angel was a guest star on “Rules of Engagement” and featured on “Cribs” and Blaine was featured on “Iconoclasts.”