Saturday, July 21, 2007

NBC also looking for a successor to Uri Geller

The large American network bought the format for the Israeli television program. Geller: 'I am very happy, not for Uri Geller, but for the State of Israel which made history'

Merav Crystal Published: 07.19.07, 16:24 / Israel Culture

Uri Geller is widening his search for potential successors across the ocean, together with the illusionist Criss Angel. The NBC network, one of the four largest television networks in the United States, recently bought the format for “The Successor,” the first time an Israeli format has been purchased by a major US broadcast network.

In America, the show will be called "Phenomenon".

As in Israel, it will be hosted by Uri Geller, but with Criss Angel by his side for the American audience. Angel is one of the most famous magicians in the US specializing in illusions, mentalism, and escapology.

He starred in a successful Broadway magic show (“Criss Angel Mindfreak”), which became a television series filmed in Las Vegas. Also an actor and musician, Angel will also star in the movie “Mandrake the Magician” which will air in 2008. The film is an adaptation of an old American comic strip that features a magician who uses his powers of hypnotism and illusion to fight crime.

The Granada production company will produce “The Successor” for NBC, working closely with Israeli franchise Keshet and Kuperman Productions, who produced the show in Israel. The show's format has also been sold to the German ProSieben network, one of the leading commercial channels in Germany and Europe.

Elad Kuperman from Kuperman Productions explains: “It will be a local adaptation of the program. The format is a little different because Criss Angel is also involved in helping Uri find the successor. Our company creates television events. The fact that we have succeeded in selling it is amazing."

Is it magic?

“It is not magic, it is more than that. It was not obvious.”

'Controversy made Uri Geller'

In a conversation from England, Uri Geller declares that what is good for him is good for Israel: “I am very happy this morning, not for Uri Geller, but for the small State of Israel that has made history. I am reading the New York Times, the LA Times, and Forbes, and I am proud.

"I search on Google and Yahoo, and see that they are flooded with hundreds of articles about NBC buying a format from Israel. Out of this whole matter, this is what makes me happiest and only then comes the great news, that NBC bought “The Successor.” (NBC executive) Ben Silverman believes in this, and said that they wanted to be the first to broadcast it. There is already a line of countries waiting to broadcast the program. After America it will air in Germany and Russia. In any case, I am very surprised at the international success of “The Successor.”

Why was Criss Angel added?

“He joined because I found it hard to work alone. I learned from my experience in Israel. Even “American Idol” has more than one judge. I need feedback. When I raised the idea of having someone by my side, Silverman said 'Criss Angel.' I did not even know if he would have time to do it. I am happy that he agreed, because Angel is as famous in America as Paris Hilton or Madonna. He is an incredible man, he has amazing, surprising abilities, and he is also an interesting personality. It will be interesting to do the show with him. He is also younger than Uri Geller. The combination will be astounding.”

Why was the name changed?

“We all agreed that 'Phenomenon' was a deeper, stronger, shinier name full of mystery.”

Are you looking for someone with unique powers?

“No. We are not looking for someone with powers, rather huge performers. I am looking for an act, a person with charisma and a personality that simply makes your hair stand on end. A reporter asked Silverman: 'Why did you choose Uri Geller, he is mired in controversy?' Silverman answered: 'Because when we watched 'The Successor,' we had goose bumps.'"

The program will force Geller to move to the United States. Geller revealed that he will be there for six to eight weeks, and the network is already planning an additional season.

"We suggested three versions of 'The Successor' because I am only one person. When you have a format it can run in twenty countries, because every country has a presenter, but 'The Successor' needs Uri Geller. So there is the version that includes me.

"The Germans, for example, did not want to give me up, so after America I will be in Germany for 14 weeks. The Americans also refused to do it without me. I hope that there will be countries where I will be a guest on the show once every three weeks.

"We created a third version without Uri Geller, so that other countries can find a local mentalist to present the program for them.”

Do you think that you will receive the same criticism that you received here?

“I am not afraid of that. There is no such thing as bad criticism. I live for controversy. Controversy made Uri Geller; it gave me the push without having to try. And yet the criticism in Israel was a little too strong and unnecessary. I still do not understand why they cannot treat people well in Israel. I do not see a place for controversy; in America they know that it is entertainment. I think that it is going to be amazing, and we are very excited.”

Monday, July 16, 2007


BURBANK - July 16, 2007 - NBC has signed a series deal with mystifier/artist Criss Angel ("Criss Angel Mindfreak") and famed mentalist Uri Geller for "Phenomenon" (working title) -- a mysterious live competition series in which both men will conduct an intensive search for the next great mentalist. The announcement was made today by Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios.

"The match-up of two world-famous personalities, Uri Geller and Criss Angel -- who have demonstrated astounding skills -- makes for a riveting series format," said Silverman. "Factor in the mystery of the genre, the live competitive angle as the contestants attempt to follow in Criss and Uri's footsteps, and incredible interactive applications, and we think viewers will have many compelling reasons to watch."

The series, based on a successful Israeli version judged and monitored by Geller which achieved a historical record-breaking viewing audience, tests 10 hopeful mentalists who must compete each week to demonstrate a wide spectrum of mystifying talents on a panel of weekly celebrity guests who participate along with a studio audience. Geller and Angel will assess the contestants and offer their unfiltered opinions. Ultimately, the winner's fate will be determined by the viewers at home.

The visually arresting Angel is the creator, director and star of his self-titled, alternative cable series, "Criss Angel MINDFREAK" which is currently wrapping post production on its third remarkable and critically acclaimed season.

In addition, Angel created and starred in two top-reviewed cable television specials, 2002's "Criss Angel MINDFREAK" and 2003's "Criss Angel: Supernatural." He has been the featured guest-star on both NBC's "Las Vegas" and "CSI: New York." Angel also has appeared on countless talk shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Larry King Live" and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." In the summer of 2008, Angel will team up with Cirque du Soleil for a live magic experience at the Luxor Resort and Casino in Las Vegas that is slated to run for ten years and over 4600 shows.

Geller soared to international fame by claiming extreme mind-over-matter abilities that aroused much controversy to this day in his hundreds of TV shows across the globe -- particularly the ability to bend spoons, among others. He was instrumental in creating the first interactive TV show worldwide when mysteriously objects bent in people's homes and broken watches came alive.

"Phenomenon" is a Granada America/Keshet Broadcasting/Kuperman Productions co-production in association with SevenOne International. SevenOne International controls the worldwide rights to the program.


Deborah Thomas, NBC Entertainment Publicity, 818/840-3663
Wendy Luckenbill, NBC Entertainment Publicity, 818/840-2543

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Criss Angel and Uri Geller Join NBC for New Series

July 18, 2007 criss angelWith the intention to bring forth a unique and mysterious live competition series, NBC has recently inked a deal with Criss Angel, illusionist famed for Criss Angel: Mindfreak, and Uri Geller, known for his claimed psychic powers, to team up for a new series called Phenomenon.

Inspired by an Israeli version judged and monitored by Uri Geller, Phenomenon is a reality series that features an intensive search for the next generation mentalist. Each week, 10 hopeful mentalists must compete to demonstrate an extensive array of mystifying talents in front of weekly celebrity guests who participate along with a studio audience. While Geller and Criss Angel assess and evaluate the participants, viewers at home will determine the winner.

"The match-up of two world-famous personalities, Uri Geller and Criss Angel -- who have demonstrated astounding skills -- makes for a riveting series format. Factor in the mystery of the genre, the live competitive angle as the contestants attempt to follow in Criss and Uri's footsteps, and incredible interactive applications, and we think viewers will have many compelling reasons to watch," NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios Co-Chairman Ben Silverman said.

Geller rose to fame by claiming psychic powers and performing a series of televised performances of paranormal nature. His mind-over-matter abilities, including bending spoons and describing hidden drawings, roused much international controversy.

As for Angel, he became known for his stunts as a magician, escapologist and hypnotist. He was also noted for his television appearances on Las Vegas, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, besides his own reality show.

Meanwhile, Angel is currently wrapping up postproduction of the third season of Criss Angel: Mindfreak, in which he stars, and serves as the creator and director of the series. Additionally, he will be teaming up with Cirque du Soleil for a live magic show at the Luxor Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in the summer of 2008, which is expected to run for ten years.

Garden Parties

If you walk into a crowded room and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson is somewhere in the crush, it’s her face you’ll see first. She could be marching with half a million people in a Hyde Park demonstration, or hidden in the top tiers of Man United’s gargantuan stadium, and you’d pick here out instantly, as if she had a spotlight trained on her.

That’s an almost psychic gift. It’s as though, amid the blur of the crowd, Tara is the one person who’s in focus. When Hanna, Shipi and I rolled up at Sir David Frost’s garden party in north London, TPT was naturally the first person we spotted.

It wasn’t as if there was a mere scattering of famous faces. Everywhere we turned we caught the eye of people we’d seen countless times on TV, often making statements to the House of Commons or being interviewed by Larry King on CNN.

Many were politicians, but we also spotted Bob Geldof, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, General Sir Michael Jackson, Rowan Atkinson, and Derren Brown. Bruce Forsyth and his wife Wilnelia were there, full of lively chatter — but it was Tara who shone brightest.

Perhaps her companion, the Dubai media mogul and fashion stylist Mohieb Dahabieh, was partly responsible, because TPT was wearing a dress that made everybody stare. It wasn’t just backless — it was virtually bumless.

While we were chatting, a guest tucked her business card in a place which I’ve never seen used for business cards before. Even Tara looked surprised. She blamed Shipi at first but, though he is sometimes fond of schoolboy pranks, even he wouldn’t be that cheeky.

Sir David posed for a photo with me at the gate. His events are strictly camera-free, but there must have been 50 paparazzi hanging around in the street, so he was happy to let us take a snap.

There’d been no photos the previous evening either, at Kensington Palace for Princess Michael of Kent’s annual garden party. We were invited to take cocktails on the lawn, and as in previous years the princess insisted all her guests wore “shoes for lawns” — she doesn’t want stilettos ruining the perfectly manicured greens.

The downpours and deluges of the past few weeks threatened to make a washout of the evening, so I spent a few minutes teaching the princess how to “cloudbust”. It’s a simple piece of psychokinesis — just stare at a cloud until it goes away.

Scientifically, it’s impossible to prove how much of the effect is due to mindpower, but against all the odds Princess Michael’s party stayed dry.

We talked mostly about art — the princess is a connoisseur, and president of Partridge Fine Art Ltd. The following afternoon I joined her for lunch at Partridge’s beautiful house in Bond St, London, and marvelled at the exquisite furnishings. The cutlery, especially, caught my eye — it was silver, and so gorgeous that I couldn’t bring myself to bend it. I must be growing up.

Most dramatic of all were the mirrors... but don’t be tempted to hang one on your bathroom wall unless you’re a billionaire.The price of one mirror, from St Petersburg, was £550,000.

My table companions included the owner Mark Law; Countess Pinky Le Grelle, a marksman who was the first woman to shoot for Great Britain at the Olympic Games, in 1988; the interior designer Tatiana Rugova, and Lady Middleton. I also spent a long time chatting to Oscar Humphries (pictured), a young man who is perfecting his eye for artworks and antiques while he works there.

I asked Oscar if he was ever intimidated by the titles of his clients. “Hardly,” he said — ”my father’s a Dame.”

It turned out his father is Barry Humphries, alias Edna Everage.

I’ve written before about the dangers on my BlackBerry mobile phone and email handset, known to many users as a CrackBerry because it’s so addictive. I’m afraid my obsession with the device is now completely out of hand.

Hanna is threatening to buy me a full suit of body armour, because I’m a menace to myself and everyone around me as I stroll through London, peering at the screen and tapping away with my thumbs on the keyboard.

She’s particularly worried about my habit of walking out into the road without looking up. Anyone who wanted to assassinate me would have only to send me an email as I was about to cross Oxford S


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