In the same way magicians use shorthand to describe actions like “loading,” “culling,” “palming” and “cold reading a hot number,” newspaper people describe their practice of leaving the most important part of an article for later paragraphs as “burying the lead.”
When we first read of this practice, we thought it was an environmental faux pas because in our brain, we interpreted “lead” as “lead” and not “leed.” Apparently, “lead” was on our mind and in our crib’s shiny, gnawable paint as a child.
The New York Times puff piece on Adrien Brody and his performance as Harry Houdini in the upcoming History Channel mini-series, Houdini buried the lead big time.
The article discusses Mr. Brody’s love of magic – he was a performer as a child and young man before winning an Oscar® for his role in The Pianist at the age of 26 – his idolization of Houdini and his (Mr. Brody’s) matted “hat hair,” his enjoyment of green drinks and his pride in being bruised by Jackie Chan. Great stuff and fun to read.
But it is not until the next to last paragraph (or “graph” in newspaper talk) that we learn his beef with the series.
Regardless of whether “Houdini” is a hit, Mr. Brody said he is proud of the work he did in the mini-series. He does have one quibble, though. The History Channel decided to disclose the secret methods Houdini used to escape. “I acquiesced because it’s all available online,” he said. “But a magician never reveals his tricks.”
We were excited about the series – and still are – but don’t buy the rationale for exposing secrets used by Houdini and folks performing today.
“I acquiesced because it’s all available online” does not cut the low-cal condiment with us. There are a lot of things that are available online but fortunately – because we hate scenes of brutality, murder, torture, emotional abuse and shaming – the fact that those things are on-line does not mean they are appropriate to be seen or to be shown.
“But a magician never reveals his tricks,” Mr Brody says.
But he did.
Houdini wouldn’t have.
History’s Houdini premieres Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. ET.