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.”

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