Tag: Las Vegas

Was Murray SawChuck Ripped Off?

Las Vegas Magician Murray SawChuck is justifiably peeved to learn his spectacular Steam Train effect has been appropriated by The Illusionists.

You recall the Steam Train Illusion, right?  Mr. SawChuck performed it on national television a few years back.  It was pretty cool and perhaps that is why it is featured in The Illusionists’ act.

Mr. SawChuck told Vegas News, “You will also notice the train is an exact copy of MY steam train illusion I designed and invented in 2010 for America’s Got Talent Semi-Finals being seen by more than 22 million viewers.”

We have no information that would cause us to doubt Mr. SawChuck.  But to be fair, we have not heard The Illusionists’ side of the story.

Mr. SawChuck said, “Most of the The Illusionist cast is from Las Vegas and they are well aware that the Steam Train Illusion is my idea yet I didn’t receive ONE phone call from anyone giving me the heads up or a nod that they wanted his idea of a steam train locomotive on stage.

“It’s a fact there has never been an illusion with a steam train locomotive inside a theater before I created mine for America’s Got Talent in 2010.  In this business you can’t patent an idea so it’s very easy to have your brand or idea ripped off without any credit!”

Actually, one can never patent an idea but we get his point.  A patent protects only new, nonobvious and useful item.  A great idea is a great idea but unworthy of a patent until it is utilized in an invention.

That being said, Mr. SawChuck could have applied for a patent for the trick and if we were wearing only our Intellectual Property Attorney hat (it is a nice bowler-style with a dark blue feather stuck in the band) we would have said he could pursue it.

But if we wear our magician hat (a collapsible fez – sort of a cross between Cardini and Tommy Cooper), we would tell him to not apply for a patent.

A patent allows its owner to exclude others from selling or using the invention.  That’s great but to receive this time-limited protection, the application needs to specify the method and construction of the device in excruciating detail.

Good news: no one else can use the device.  Bad news: everyone knows how to build the device.  As we say around the office, you can take a secret to your grave, but not to the Patent Office.

Mr. SawChuck really had no way – short of depending on the good intentions of his colleagues in our wondrous art – to keep others from performing the exact same effect.

A wise judge once told us, “the thinnest piece of bacon has two sides.”  We thought he was talking about the rather miserly portions available to prosecutors in the courthouse café, but it turns out he was advising us to always get both sides of any story before making up our mind.  We have not heard from The Illusionists yet but when we do, we will update this story.

Mr. SawChuck will be headlining his own show at The Tropicana in Las Vegas this spring.  You can check out his home page here.

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Penn Jillette Spills the Beans on Cooking Competition

Magician Penn Jillette teased listeners across several podcast episodes of his Penn’s Sunday School.  He told listeners he was learning to cook for television in connection with a cooking competition show but that was about it.  He would not divulge the network, the type of competition or even whether there was big money at stake.

Penn did share, however, that cooking is to cooking on television as music is to military music.

At home, you may carefully open packages, measure quantities and cook appropriate quantities for the number of intended guests.  On TV, boxes are sliced open, careful measuring is for the birds and you always cook more than enough so that you can choose the best version of the dish and toss the rest.

The press embargo has apparently been lifted and Penn was able to speak with The Las Vegas Sun columnist Robin Leach.

Penn is competing on behalf of his favorite charity Opportunity Village on the third season of the celebrity competition “Rachael vs. Guy.”  He is on Team Rachel Ray with Jake Pavelka, comedy actress Judy Gold and Florence Henderson.

Penn would not disclose whether he was successful.

“You have to watch to see how far I go,” Penn told Robin Leach. “I feel pretty good, but it is top secret.  One of the things I did to prepare for the show is I went around to different chefs in Las Vegas and was taught a lot about how to cook on television.

“I like the Opportunity Village project because the idea is so important.  I’m hoping that it will grow even more and in other areas of the country.  People who saw Opportunity Village when I competed on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ have thought about doing it in other cities.

“That was really my reason for doing Donald Trump’s show and now on Rachael Ray’s team. Besides raising money for Opportunity Village, we get to show there are other ideas for how to assist people with disabilities.

Read more about Penn’s on-going projects in Robin Leach’s full article in The Las Vegas Sun here.

Penn & Teller: First Ever UK Tour Dates Announced

Magicians of great ability Penn & Teller will be returning to the United Kingdom in February 2014 to entertain  fans in Manchester, Birmingham and London.

The incredible duo bring their Vegas act to Manchester, then Birmingham and onto London for a five big nights at the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith in London.

This is their first UK tour but they are familiar with the environs as hosts of their own ITV television show, Fool Us.

Tour promoters promise no two shows will be the same and so to us it makes sense to attend every show in every location.

Penn & Teller have about four decades of sold out runs on Broadway, world tours and of course Las Vegas.  Their television shows have garnered Emmys and an ever-increasing fan base.

Named ‘Las Vegas Magicians of the Year’ six times for their nightly performance at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, they have repeat visits from magicians, magic-lovers and folks out for a profoundly entertaining evening.

We have it on very good authority that Penn and Teller will be appear in June 2014 at Manchester Palace Theatre on Friday the 13th, Birmingham Alexandra Theatre on Sunday the 15th and from Wednesday the 18th through to the 22nd at London’s Eventim Apollo Hammersmith.

Tickets go on sale Friday 6th December at www.livenation.co.uk or www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

Criss Angel to Close Vegas Show for 3 Months

Reports were received from The Las Vegas Sun that magician Criss Angel that will take a break from his rigorous schedule to have surgery on an injured shoulder.

The star of Believe will put the show on hold for three months in 2014 to have surgery on damaged tendons in a shoulder.  He tore the tendons two years ago and put off surgery at the time to film his new series for Spike TV and performing at The Luxor.

The tendons tore a second time whilst performing an upside down straight jacket escape in Times Square.  “There is no alternative. It’s three times as bad now,” Mr. Angel told The Las Vegas Sun. “I have to go under the knife. There is no other choice. I’ve already put it off far too long.”

To do otherwise risked permanent damage that would end his performing career.

The doctors will begin their work in January and he will host a show featuring other magicians in February and March before returning to the stage in April.

UPDATED: How to Close a Show in 10 Days

Maren Wade is a gifted performer, singer, dancer, skilled author and a really nice person.

We went over-the-top in our review of her essay on Robin Leach’s Vegas DeLuxe site.  Ms. Wade wanted to make sure readers understood she was not criticizing any particular producer or show.  She wrote:

“My intention on writing How To Close A Show In Ten Days was to poke fun at experiences that many performers have encountered in the entertainment industry and to praise those producers who have had successful shows.   I don’t, nor have I ever claimed my outrageous stories to be true much less to be true based on my own experiences.

“Much of what I wrote was apocryphal, over the top exaggerations of “war” stories swapped by various entertainers over drinks.  It was never intended as a criticism of any producer in particular or any producer with whom I have ever had the honor or privilege to work.

I have to make clear that I did not write the editor’s note and I did not mention anything about my credits.  The fact is over time shows can close regardless of how long they were running no matter how successful they may have been.

“Where there is a beginning, there is an end.  I acknowledge there are many factors at play and that producing is a challenging business with lots of hurdles to overcome.  It has been an honor to have performed in every show for which I have been credited.

“I have developed deep and meaningful relationships with many people from the production teams, cast and crews that I have worked with and feel inspired every day to be surrounded with so many talented people who have such enormous ambition, drive and success.”

She is not only a great writer, she is classy and kind.

Personally, we would never put up with our hijinx and wise acre ways.

In fact, we would have been a lot less diplomatic and probably gone over the top again by attacking our own writing for being unprofessional  and taking great liberties with the original story.  Fortunately, we are so lazy we likely would not have even bothered to write us.

Ms. Wade  shared what she learned from her friends in the business in a satirical piece on Vegas DeLuxe.  She served as a guest essayist whilst Robin Leach is on his annual summer vacation.

While her helpful instruction is not directly related to magic productions, her instruction can help any show avoid a short run and embarrassing close.

For instance:

What is the No. 1 rule of business? Keep costs down. Here are some effective ways to do this: Advertising is completely overrated. Why should you spend money to make money? Your show should be Vegas’ best kept secret, so secret that no one knows about it.

Read her full post here.

We hereby extend an offer to Ms. Wade.  Please join Inside Magic’s writing team.  We love snark and especially well-written and insightful snark.

You’ve got what it takes to make it in the magic writing biz, Ms. Wade.  Give us a call.

[ Edited 4:23 pm]

Magician Criss Angel “Sells Out” Free Show & Reveals Spike TV Title

Magician Criss  Angel traveled to the Ozarks today to film a stunt for his new Spike TV series.

(More on the name of the series in a bit).

On Sunday, there was a Facebook message from the John Q. Hammons Arena at Missouri State University  offering this tease:

“Taking place in front of a live audience at Missouri State University, Criss Angel will attempt to vanish over 40 tons of Shrine Elephants. Impossible conditions set the stage as Criss Angel attempts to become the first ever to successfully complete a vanish of such epic scale. Don’t miss the chance to see it live and witness history in the making.”

Attendees were invited to witness the jumbo-sized vanish attempt but the organizers had to limit the crowd to 400 folks.

According to the Facebook post, all attendees were required to complete release forms because the event was going to be filmed for the series.   So, they were more than just audience members, they were participants.

At 1 p.m., the arena was filled to capacity and the organizers tried to smooth over any disappointment:

“UPDATE: By 1 p.m. the arena was filled to capacity:@JQHArena Sorry folks, we are at capacity for the show. We understand the frustration, but it’s the tours request to cap the crowd at 400 individuals.”

Granted, it was a free show — if you don’t count signing away your rights to Spike TV — but tickets were gone in a hurry.

Yes, but what shall they call the new series on Spike TV?

We have it on very good authority — straight from Robin Leach’s Luxe Life Blog — the new show will be Believe.  It will be easy to remember the title because it is the same as the Cirque du Soleil produced Criss Angel show at The Luxor in Las Vegas.

In fact, if you check out the United States Patent and Trademark Office records for registration number 77289541, you will see that Criss Angel has a trademark for BELIEVE for the goods and services of: “Entertainment services, namely, live and televised theatrical productions and performances by a professional entertainer.”  And that is exactly how he uses the trademark.

Mr. Angel assigned the rights to the trademark to an entity MPOA LLC in Las Vegas.  We checked with the Nevada Secretary of State and learned Mr. Angel is listed as an officer of the company under his real name, Christopher Sarantakos.  So, it all checks out.

You can read the full story at Ozarks First here: Magician Criss Angel Performing Free at JQH Arena Today.

Magicians Criss Angel, Jan Rouven & Malloy Magic Point Fingers

Las Vegas magician Jan Rouven charged fellow Las Vegas magician Criss Angel swiped his “Bed of Death” illusion for Mr.  Angel’s new Spike television series, BeLIEve.  Mike Weatherford detailed Mr. Rouven’s claims in  May 17th Las Vegas Review Journal column.

Mr. Angel claimed the inspiration for the stunt was Clive Barker’s film “Lord of Illusions.

Mr. Rouven said Mr. Angel’s version of the escape differs from the film and more closely resembles Mr. Rouven’s version.  In the film, a magician needs to escape falling swords.  The version Mr. Rouven performs in his show at the Riviera has an audience member choose the order of the falling swords.

Mr. Angel denied the accusation flatly.  “They’re in a glass house,” he said.

Mr. Weatherford reported that Mr. Angel alleged Mr. Rouven performs illusions without the inventor’s permission.  The Rouven camp denied those charges.

“I go out of my way to get people’s permission,” Mr. Weatherford quoted Mr. Angel  as saying. “I deal with this on a much larger level than any of these people. … Do you think I would really need to do something like that?”

Fast forward to Robin Leach’s Strip Scribbles column one week later.

Continue reading “Magicians Criss Angel, Jan Rouven & Malloy Magic Point Fingers”

Blindfold + Heavy Winds = No Sky Walk for Criss Angel

We don’t blame Criss Angel for postponing his blindfold walk on two beams more than six-stories up.

Las Vegas winds are as unpredictable as Las Vegas wins.  It is hard enough to walk along beams sixty feet above the pavement with a blindfold — but when you add “strong winds” to the mix, you are making it really risky.

We checked the OSHA standards and it appears it would be a violation for any employee (contract or full-time) to walk along a beam twenty meters over any surface (save marshmallows (see OSHA Reg. 223-0(a) re “Spongy Food Stuff Surfaces and Worker Safety”) and even then the regs require the marshmallows to be “fresh” and at least six feet in depth).

via Weather takes the wind out of Criss Angel stunt – CBS 12 Action News.

Magician Tony Spain Might Appear in Vegas, Sometime

Magician Tony Spain announced he will be appearing in Las Vegas later next month.

He will bring his show of escapes, mentalism and kid show magic to one of the Strip’s show rooms.

He will send more details when he secures the financing for the theater.

He hopes to use the appearance to gain a foothold in the Las Vegas magic scene.

We will update this story as we learn more, probably.


 

Revisions:  This article was revised to reflect the following changes to the original copy.

April 23, 2013 18:23 — Approximately 220 words referencing Mr. Spain’s prior shoplifting convictions and probation violations were deleted at the request of the magician’s agent/lawyer.

April 23, 2013 21:18 – Photo of Mr. Spain and former assistant, Rowina Shultz was removed in response to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request from the Sears Photograph Studio in the Mystic Hollow Mall.  The studio alleged in their takedown notice that they retained the copyright because the magician failed to pay the full amount owed and the image used was actually one of the proofs sent to the customer.

April 23, 2013 01:10 – Additional text – provided by Mr. Spain – was added describing his “skillful combination of the traditional Las Vegas elements of nearly nude showgirls and classic effects audiences will fondly recall from birthday party shows performed by kid show magicians like Hippity Hop Rabbits and Sucker Sliding Die Box.” Continue reading “Magician Tony Spain Might Appear in Vegas, Sometime”

David Copperfield Extends Contract, Gets Theater Name

Robin Leach reports via his always fun  to read Strip Scribbles that Inside Magic Favorite David Copperfield and the MGM Grand have agreed to a three-year contract extension.  According to MGM’s president, Scott Sibella The Hollywood Theater might be renamed The David Copperfield Theater this fall.

The theater will be dark for a about a month this September to convert the space into a new configuration.  Mr. Leach also reports Mr. Copperfield will have a new show with new illusions for the show’s re-opening just before Christmas.

Check out the entire Strip Scribbles: Did you know that Elvis Presley had a son? – Las Vegas Sun News.