Magician Joel Ward will be making his first appearance at Ball State University tomorrow night. He gave The Daily News an exclusive interview in advance of that appearance in which he traced his start in our wonderful craft and explained “how magic can be the greatest pick-up line.”
The article names Mr. Ward “Magician to the Stars” and it sure sounds like he has an in with the in-crowd. He is currently in the midst of a college tour and estimates he will perform about a hundred shows in 2015.
Living in Hollywood, I get to perform at some cool places. I perform regularly for celebrities. Recently, I performed a private party for Johnny Depp. That was pretty cool. And I also performed for Katy Perry’s birthday party. That was equally cool. She rented out this private club in Hollywood called the “Magic Castle.” There were tons of celebrities there and I ended up hanging out with John Mayer and Neil Patrick Harris for the night.
He counts David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Penn & Teller and Michael Carbonaro as his past and present influences and encourages folks interested in magic to check out libraries, the internet and societies like The International Brotherhood of Magicians. But, he adds, “if all of this sounds too hard, you can just buy a magic trick after my show on Wednesday. I sell a cool card trick for $5.”
We have seen Mr. Ward perform and love his energy and imagination. His show is not to be missed.
Houdini as Johnny Depp is how some of the snarky trade journals are setting the story from here in Hollywood that the famed actor is in negotiations to lead The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.
We have gone on record as liking Johnny Depp and disliking almost all snark about anything always. Accordingly we are looking forward to the film based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book.
We are apparently alone among the top Hollywood journalists, though. Writes Screen Crush:
Depp will play the legendary magician in the new film from Dean Parisot, the director of ‘Red 2,’ which features Houdini as not just a magician, but an investigator of the occult — so it’s definitely territory with which Depp is familiar, given that he gets to wear a hat and spend time in the supernatural realm.
We don’t consider such snark to be affirming and supportive of humanity – or even that clever.
Houdini did not wear hats as often as Harry Kellar or Max Malini or even Chung Ling Soo (off stage). We reached out to Lionsgate – the production company – as to whether Mr. Depp is scheduled to wear a hat in more than 40 percent of the scenes. Surprisingly, we have not heard back from their usually very efficient publicity department. We will update this story as soon as we receive word.
Some of the coverage implies the movie will be adding a new dimension to the Houdini myth by portraying him as a debunker of Spiritualism. Students of the great magician’s history know his persistent battle against the nascent occult movement was just as important as his magic and escape work.
We think Mr. Depp will make a fine Houdini and the Kalush / Sloman book is rich with possibilities for great scenes. We are looking forward to the film without regard to the hat issue.
Mr. Depp is set to film sequels to Alice in Wonderland and The Pirates of the Caribbean soon and so it is not clear when he will have time to take on this new project. This scheduling problem led the Screen Crush reporter to ask snarkily, “No idea where this Houdini film will fit into his schedule, but maybe he can pull some free time out of one of his silly hats.”