This week’s column was going to consist of just one word, repeated a thousand times: PERSEVERE. If you are seeking success, whether that’s at school or in a relationship or in your career or any other arena, it’s the one word which truly matters: PERSEVERE. Keep saying it to yourself, over and over, in as many different ways as you can: PERSEVERE, KEEP TRYING, NEVER QUIT, YOU CAN DO IT, PERSEVERE.
For thirty-five years my ambition has been to front a major TV show in America. My business is entertainment, and to achieve global success it’s crucial to win the US market. In different ways, through Hollywood and chatshows, scientific experiments and books, I’ve left my imprint. But the ultimate goal, the television series on a major channel, has always eluded me because I was busy doing TV work globally.
I never gave up on my ambition. I always believed it would happen. And now it has.
This autumn, I will team up with America’s best-known mentalist magician, Criss Angel, to present a show called Phenomenon on NBC television. It’s based on my smash-hit Israeli show Successor, with Criss and me watching ten mind-blowing performers compete in front of a studio audience and celebrity guests.
The show was announced at the American Theatre Critics Association in the Beverley Hills Hilton, LA, earlier this month (16 July) by Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios.
Ben’s enthusiasm for the concept has made the whole show possible. Before his arrival at the TV station earlier this year, it looked as though we might not secure an American deal. After our storming success in Israel, I was disappointed, but not downhearted. I kept persevering, taking the show again to US executives at the Cannes festival.
If I had accepted the first rebuff, or the twentieth, or even the hundredth, my belief would have been doomed. But I have always believed that, if you never quit, you’re never beaten. So I persevered.
The involvement of Criss Angel will be immensely important. His Mindfreak series is the most popular mystifying show on American TV, making him the modern successor to his childhood hero, Harry Houdini.
Criss’s triumphs include levitating above the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, walking on water and floating between two buildings. To say he has a taste for the spectacular is like saying Madonna has had a couple of hit records.
We’ll be presenting our ten contestants on live TV for ten successive weeks, building up to a climactic showdown between the most popular acts, just before Christmas. Criss and I will be the ringmasters, but the viewers at home will wield the real power, voting to keep their favourites on the show.
It’s going to be a whirlwind few years, because as soon as the US series ends, I’ll be flying to Germany to repeat the performance. The German series was also announced to the media this month, with a special presentation called the Big Show for TV’s top advertisers.
My instructions were simply to stir up as much excitement around the show as I could, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. As always, I was staggered by how young ad executives are — many of them seemed younger than my own children. “None of you can possibly remember my first appearance in Germany, in 1972,” I told them, and their blank looks revealed I was right — I might as well have been talking about the Napoleonic wars.
“One thing is sure, though” I added — “your own kids are going to know all about my successor.”
I’m confident about reaching the school-age generation in both Germany and the US through the series, because the most fanatical viewers in Israel were children. Magic has maximum appeal for the young mind — kids believe in it, because they haven’t learned to be cynical and skeptical.
I bumped into a couple of old friends at the Big Show — Boris B and Mel C. Boris is Germany’s most famous sportsman, alongside Michael Schumacher. He was sporting a vivid tan, which I suspect he didn’t get at the Wimbledon washout.
He’s a fascinating man, with a keen business sense, who is completely relaxed about his fame — some celebs are snobs, but Boris is genuinely happy to chat to anyone who intrigues him. He has an open and inquiring mind, which is why I think he’ll make a great success of his German TV show, as an interviewer.
One of the first face-to-face chats he has lined up will be with the footballing maestro Franz Beckenbauer. That promises to be fascinating viewing, as well as a useful opportunity for me to brush up on my German.
With the Spice Girls preparing to make a comeback with a world tour, the five have got a lot of ground to cover with their pre-publicity. Mel C, who I always suspected had the best voice of them all, was full of energy, and the centre of attention.
I asked her what she thought of the Beckham’s switch to Los Angeles, and Mel was full of positive comments. She’s sure the duo will win over the US public, and she pointed out that the most important thing for Victoria was her children — if they were happy, so was Mum.
Stuart Semple took me, Shipi and Hanna to Brick Lane in London for a car boot sale where the vendors were leading artists. Tracey Emin was there, as well as Vivianne Westwood. I bought an artwork created from a dismembered Metro motor-car from Gavin Turk — that’s him in the dark glasses. He’s been exhibited at the Tate Modern, and Charles Saatchi has his work in his collection.