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!
Posted by Michael on December 12th, 2013
Brendan Behan wrote “There is no such thing as bad publicity, except for your own obituary.” Derren Brown might be second guessing that after the hype for his upcoming art heist special caused many to believe that he may be behind a real art heist. Two works by Damien Hirst, the Young British Artist known for his death themed art, were stolen from a London Gallery. Brown’s publicist Tweeted a message mentioning the real life theft and Derren Brown. This caused some speculation that the theft of Pyronin Y and Oleoylsarcosine was tied to the upcoming special.
The publicist quickly distanced Brown from the crime. The thieves remain at large and the two paintings, each a series of colored dots organized along a grid, are still missing.
Posted by Editor on December 2nd, 2013
Derren Brown has done many things over the last year including convincing a man he’s in a zombie apocalypse, providing a cover story to U.N.I.T. when they brought in the Doctor and playing some kind of role in the faked death of Sherlock Holmes.
But his latest television special will see him training elder UK residents how to become master art thieves. His point is to demonstrate how invisible the elderly become in the eyes of the young.
Speakng after a screening of The Great Art Robbery last week, Brown said public perception of pensioners was not something that’s going to change overnight but “it’s nice to do something that might help other people”. He said he had originally planned to carry out the heist – which is based on the theft of the Mona Lisa – but became interested in stereotypes of pensioners after realising his parents were getting older and chatting to a neighbour about the adventures he had had in his life.
The special airs on Channel 4 this December.
Posted by Michael on November 4th, 2013
What has Derren Brown been up to? He’s been training senior citizens to become a team of high end art thieves, of course. Yes, you read that right. His new special, Derren Brown’s The Great Art Robbery, is scheduled to air on England’s Channel 4 in December. He told the Daily Express that this has been a particularly anxious project because for the first time it is entirely in the hands of others. If you happen to catch a story about a gang of retirees getting nabbed with a Dante Gabriel Rossetti or John Everett Millais* tucked under a trench coat, you can assume that the new special will be delayed!
* We have no special knowledge of the piece that Brown’s band of merry men will target; we just see him as the kind of guy who would be a Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood fan.