Archive for the 'America’s Got Talent' Category

Illusionist 2.0, Eric Buss and More [Magic Bulletin]

Posted by Michael on December 26th, 2013 caught up with The Illusionists 2.0, which includes familiar names such as Raymond Crowe and Luis De Matos. They also spoke with producer Simon Painter who said that the first show, which is getting ready to come to the United States, was a steampunk vision of magic while the new version is a futuristic view of magic.

The Arizona Daily Star caught up with hometown boy Eric Buss, the magician perhaps best known for his America’s Got Talent run or his viral videos of creations such as the bubble wrap bike. His show with Danny Cole is in Tuscon Saturday and you can learn more here.

Speaking of AGT alum, Seth Grabel is debuting a new act January 19 at the Sunset Station Casino in Henderson, Nevada. Acrobatic Magic combines acrobatics with magic in a family friendly show.

Looking Back At 2013 (July – December Edition)

Posted by Michael on December 23rd, 2013

Michael Lauck is a columnist for iTricks. His work appears on Mondays. The first six months of 2013 where covered here.

Magic had a great year in 2013.

There were ups and downs, of course, with new triumphs and lost friends. All things considered, though, magic raised its profile in 2013.

After the first six months of 2013, magic was in an interesting position. The Magic Castle was celebrating its 50th year and Genii was entering its 76th! There had already been two big screen projects featuring magic and on the small screen, America’s Got Talent was just kicking off. It really looked like magic was making a comeback.

July kept the momentum going. Although it had already run in Europe, Dangerman: The Incredible Mr. Goodwin made its US premiere on BBC America. Of course, America’s Got Talent was still moving along and featuring several magicians. The CW had already announced that it was reviving the series Masters of Illusions and it began taping the large scale stage magic segments. On the street pieces would follow. The documentary Magic Camp, which had been seen in limited release and festivals, was finally widely available through video on demand services.

The magic community also lost a few members in July. Among them were one time SAM Magician of the Year Jack Bridwell and Albert Ching Jr. (left). Probably best known as a restaurant owner when he dies, Ching had used the GI Bill to attend the Chavez School or Magic and went on to a very successful career in New York, even appearing on Ed Sullivan’s show, before moving to the West Coast.

August also saw the loss of a few interesting characters. On the 3rd, intelligence analyst and magician Bart Whaley passed away. When he was not designing high level military simulations the Magic Castle member was writing books on Erdnase and Orson Welles. At the end of the month, Mandrake the Magician ended its decades long comic strip run. Even though he was fictional, Mandrake spawned a real life magician (Leon Mandrake).

John Calvert turned 102 years old early in the month. Magic Live! was held and included a special Potter and Potter auction which included Cardini’s gimmicked wristwatch. On the more unfortunate side, Paul Daniels was quoted as making a few less than charitable remarks about why there were not more women magicians, which he later maintained were misquotes.

Magic continued to be big business in the entertainment world. The Travel Channel premiered JB Benn’s Magic Man series and A&E confirmed that Adrien Brody would star in its planned Houdini two part movie. Now You See Me continued to rake in the ticket sales across the world, making it the sleeper hit of 2013. A sequel was officially announced in August.

September would be one of the saddest months of 2013 for magicians. Shortly after a false report of his death spread through social media, John Calvert (right) passed away at the end of the month. Not only had Calvert been a successful magician, he had been a world class adventurer who had flown and sailed around the world and even had a film career.

Despite the sad news at the end of the month, September had otherwise been a pretty good month for magic. America’s Got Talent ended. Highly touted teen heart throb Collins Key made it all the way to the end, ultimately finishing 5th. Winner Kenichi Ebina was billed as a dancer who incorporated multimedia, but he also used so good old fashioned magic along the way! David Copperfield was in the middle of a wave of publicity due to his new Vegas contract, which included a new production company and strange claims that his islands contained the fountain of youth. Forbes even placed him on a list of people poised to become billionaires in the coming years. Best of all, though, David Oliver finally returned home after a lung transplant. For the record, David could still use everyone’s help so check out the Do Magic For David Oliver blog.

October was, understandably, overshadowed by the death of John Calvert. More sad news came with the passing of Fantasio’s wife Monica Roucau. There was better news, though, Criss Angel debuted his new show BeLIEve on cable’s Spike Network on the 15th. Just a few days before Ben Hanlin’s Tricked premiered on England’s ITV2. Even though it had just ended a few weeks before, America’s Got Talent was already starting auditions for the 2014 season in Miami. Meanwhile in the mountains, Magic In The Rockies was celebrating its 20th anniversary. Across the pond, Paul Daniels started his farewell tour, although he dubbed it the first of many.

Australian TV was big magic news in November. Self described unusualist Raymond Crowe made a very respectable run on Australia’s Got Talent. He made it into the Top 6 and illusionist Sam Powers placed in the Top 12 (that is Sam at the top of the page). Meanwhile former Australia’s Got Talent runner up Cosentino (left) cha-chaed his way to reality show glory by winning Australia’s Dancing With The Stars. On American television, David Blaine made a triumphant return by messing with celebrities on his Real Or Magic special. On the Internet, iTricks returned to podcasting with a special look at women and magic.

Of course, December is not quite over yet but it has already been an interesting month for magic. Derren Brown found himself in a tiny bit of trouble (or at least embarrassment) after his publicist connected his upcoming art heist themed special with a real life London theft. Art and magic also mixed in Teller’s new documentary Tim’s Vermeer, which was placed on the official short list for an Academy Award earlier this month. The big screen attention on magic continues, too, as we end the year. India’s biggest action franchise released its third installment on the 20th. Dhoom 3 features a magician robbing banks and has already set box office records.

Potential billionaires, breakout hits movies, magic on television… Magic had a pretty good 2013. It seems as if the credibility of magic is on the rise again. There are new shows scheduled, big project planned. We can only look forward to 2014!

Looking Back On 2013

Posted by Michael on December 16th, 2013

Michael Lauck is a columnist for iTricks. His work appears on Mondays.

2013 is drawing to a close and it is time to look back at the year in magic.

Magic has hit the big screen, the small screen and even lost a few old friends. All in all, though, it seems that magic was undergoing a bit of a revival in 2013.

Magic is a strange thing that employs cutting edge materials and technologies while also embracing age-old methodologies and traditions. The history of magic is important to magicians in a way you do not really see in other fields. As the year draws to a close, it seems appropriate to look back over 2013 to celebrate a few milestones and mourn a few losses. Although the magic community is, in many ways, driven by the new products that come out each year, we will avoid that side of things and instead concentrate on the people and events.

Why should we look back over the year? That really is a valid question. Even with magic’s strong interest in its history, it is easy to think that the last 12 months should be fresh in our collective minds. I honestly almost skipped past the idea of a year in review but I decided to grab the first couple 2013 issues of Magic, Genii and The Linking Ring just to see if I was surprised by anything. The tragic attack on Wayne Houchin was what settled the issue. It was a major event that I would have said happened in early 2013 but it did not. The magazine coverage was in early 2013, but the attack itself was in November of 2012. This alone made me realize it was worth going back over the year.

How should we look back over the year? That is a valid question, too. It certainly makes sense to group certain things together and look at the year in magic television or in film. The problem is that you can not help but make it look as though some categories are more important than others. Why choose to discuss Subject A over Subject B? So it only seems fair to look at the year as it happened from January to December.

January was a bright new beginning for 2013. Genii began its amazing 76th volume after ending 2012 with a gigantic 75th anniversary issue. Magic Magazine started its celebration of the Magic Castle, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013, with a year long series of articles by Castle founder Milt Larsen. In England, Dynamo: Magician Impossible received a Broadcast Award as the Best Entertainment Programme. In perhaps the best news of the month, Wayne Houchin returned to performing after being set on fire during a television broadcast in the Dominican Republic by the show’s host.

Sadly, January also saw many members of the magic fraternity pass away. Bob Steiner, a past National President of SAM, well known ventriloquist Clinton Detweiller and Benny Chavez’s last student, David Gaiser all passed. Also lost to the world was Bill Chaudet, the man originally named to be Harry Blackstone’s successor. He gave up the title, though, when Blackstone Jr. decided to become a performer in the 1960′s.

Famed German magician Alexander Adrion, Maurine Christopher, journalist, author and wife of Milbourne, and magic store owner Peter Anthony all died in February. However, there was better news too. The 61st Annual Blackpool Convention was held, which is always a highlight of any year. In Las Vegas, Penn and Teller were celebrating the 20th anniversary of their first Vegas performances. At this time Teller was also involved in an ongoing legal battle with a European magician named Gerard Dogge over the intellectual property rights to Teller’s Shadows. New came in February that Dogge had filed a defamation suit against Teller. The legal cases probably helped to make “intellectual property rights” a buzzword in the magic world in early 2013.

March also saw the deaths of several well known magicians. De Yip Loo, who toured with Blackstone and Dante, world record holder and two time FISM champion Hans Moretti, and David Ball, the Director of Public Events of the Magic Circle, all passed away. The Real Magic Roadshow began its tour in Detroit. Not a convention, the Roadshow was a retail expo that brought dealers such as Elmwood Magic, Losander, Magicsmith and Mark Mason to magicians across America.

On March 15th The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opened in theaters across the US. The story of a pair of old school Vegas magicians, played by Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi, taking on new school “Brain Rapist” Steve Gray, played by Jim Carrey. The cast was rounded out by Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and James Gandolfini. Burt Wonderstone grossed $27 million dollars worldwide, which was less than its $30 million budget, and saw middle of the road reviews from critics. A week earlier saw the general release of Oz The Great And Powerful, the prequel to The Wizard Of Oz. James Franco portrayed “Oz” Diggs, the traveling magician who was swept away to the land of Oz. It was more successful than Wonderstone earning about $493 million worldwide with a budget of $215 million, although it also received mixed reviews. One thing that the films had in common is that the magician protagonists spend most of the films in a less than favorable light.

The next month brought the magical world an auction of Cardini’s personal property from Potter and Potter. The April 6th auction earned over $500,000, much higher than estimates, and saw Cardini’s tuxedo sell for $60,000. In California, Penn and Teller were inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame while in England, Ben Earl’s television show Trick Artist premiered on Channel 4. The Academy of Magical Arts held their 45th annual awards show with Harry Anderson, Derek DelGuadio, Helder GuimarĂ£es, Rob Zabrecky, Stephen Minch and Penn and Teller among those receiving awards. April also saw the magic community lose famous mentalist Peter Reveen, collector Ed Hill, Swedish magician Johnny Lonn and Dennis Loomis, of Loomis Magic Shop.

May saw the loss of former IBM International President Bob Escher. It also saw more magical films hit the big screen. Desperate Acts Of Magic opened to limited release and generally positive reviews. The indie film told the story of a computer programmer with dreams of winning a magic competition which are complicated by girl troubles but what made it special was that all magic shown was actually performed! Overshadowing Desperate Acts was the release of Now You See Me by Lionsgate. Boasting stars such as Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman, the magic caper film was a modest US success but wildly successful overseas. At a cost of about $75 million, it grossed about $117 million in the US and over $350 million total guaranteeing itself a sequel. The sleeper hit caused quite a bit of stir in film circles, proving that overseas box office was more important than ever and that magic films could be successful!

June saw more movie magic with a limited run for Magic Camp, a documentary about Tannen’s annual summer youth camp, before its video on demand release in July. June also brought the eighth incarnation of America’s Got Talent on the small screen. This season saw several magicians in the competition, including illusionists Leon Ettiene and Romy Low, Special Head, escape artist Alexandria the Great, Arian Black and eventual fifth place finisher Collins Key. The month also brought the passing of Amos Levkovitch. By far the strangest thing to happen in the June was the tempest in a teapot created when the USDA sent a letter to magician Marty Hahne. The 13 page letter demanded that he provide an approved disaster plan for his livestock (a three pound rabbit) or face fines. This led to national exposure for Hahne, who was eventually able to provide the plan thanks to the assistance of a professional, who routinely received hundreds of dollars to design such plans, who had heard of his case.

That brings us to mid-year and a convenient place to stop. Join us next week as we look at the rest of the year and, eventually, on to 2014!

Sock Auction, Teller on Tim’s Vermeer and More [Magic Bulletin]

Posted by Michael on December 5th, 2013

Johnathan and Trisha Hawley (aka Hawley Magic, above) are among the four final acts in the running for Princess Cruise Lines’ Entertainer of the Year competition. All of the acts in consideration will be featured during a special cruise in March and the passengers will decide which act earns the title. You may remember The pair from their 2012 America’s Got Talent run.

If you have ever coveted a pair of Paul Daniels’ socks, iTricks has good news for you. According to, the magician is among several celebrities auctioning off socks to benefit Sheringham Woodfield School on December 17. The socks have been converted into puppets and bids can be placed on Other celebs donating footwear include Hannah Spearitt (of Primevil and S Club 7) and Terry Molloy (the actor who played Davros, creator of the dreaded Daleks).

If nothing else, the release of Tim’s Vermeer has made Arts and Entertainment editors across the country realize that Teller is not actually mute. The Village Voice is the latest to interview the usually silent magician about his documentary which is driving art historians across the world crazy.

Drew Thomas Returns to Nutcracker, Penn Cooks and More [Magic Bulletin]

Posted by Michael on November 22nd, 2013

America’s Got Talent alum Drew Thomas is returning to Atlanta for his second turn working on The Nutcracker. The video above is from last year’s production, but this year’s production will also run at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre from December 6 – 29. Learn more at the Fox Theatre website.

Speaking of America’s Got Talent, all four of the past season’s judges (Heidi Klum, Mel B., Howie Mandel and Howard Stern) will return for the summer 2014 season as will host Nick Cannon. iTricks has been thinking that an enterprising magician should co-found a dance troupe designed specifically to win the show that uses traditional stage illusions (instead of shadowgraphy or black light and electronics) as a hook!

Robin Leach is reporting that Penn Jillette will be competing alongside Florence Henderson, Judy Gold and some guy from The Bachelor as a part of Rachel Ray’s team on the new season of Celebrity Cook Off. Penn was actually a guest on Florence Henderson’s cooking show as well as a judge on the US version of Iron Chef. Facing them will be a team led by Guy Fieri which includes late ’80s pop star Tiffany and early ’90s pop star Vanilla Ice. Penn’s appearance will be on behalf of Opportunity Village, the same charity that benefited from his Celebrity Apprentice appearances.

Christian Gog: Romanian Roulette

Posted by Michael on November 15th, 2013

The most recent magic act to win a Got Talent show was Christian Gog, the mentalist who finished first in the 2012 series of Romania’s Got Talent. Unfortunately, being a mentalist means that language is very important to his act. This video, which was not from the talent competition, was about the most visual piece we could find from Gog. It is a Russian roulette piece, so if gun related acts offend you BE WARNED. It is also just over 15 minutes long, although the performance ends at about 11:30 and you can skip ahead to about the 4:30 mark without missing anything. Even without being able to understand the dialogue, it is a compelling video.


Ukraine’s Top Talent 2011: Vitaliy Luzkar

Posted by Michael on November 14th, 2013

According to our research, the second magic act to win a Got Talent show was Vitaliy Luzkar who won the Ukraine version in 2011. It is a silent act (so you don’t have to worry about your skills in conversational Ukrainian) featuring doves and grand illusion. You get a pretty good look at Luzkar in this video as the act is just under 6 minutes long. Some may argue that his frilly shirt and candelabra stage dressings are a bit dated, but we at iTricks can see why he won the competition.