Its an interesting idea for a show thats based on a show in Israel that celebrity mentalist Uri Geller was working on. Uri co-hosts the new NBC show with "Mindfreak" himself Criss Angel.
Here's Criss calling out psychic Jim Callahan on the show last week:
In an interview NBC ran online after the show aired, Criss explained himself a little more:
"I just have a real big problem with people that go out there and claim to have some ability thats beyond trickery. Ive done 900 demonstrations and have never claimed to have supernatural psychic ability."
"I've been hired by the producers of the show to give my honest assessment based on my knowledge in the arts and when I see somebody using trickery.. you know, things that I did when I was 14 years old ... and then trying to pass it off as some psychic ability or "hes a medium" and "he's talking to the dead." you know, its a bunch of bullshit, and Im not going to stand for that."
What I find interesting about Criss is that he is more than happy to call bullshit on a psychic on live TV, but his particular brand of magic that he does on his own television show is some of the most simple, contrived and downright blatant fake stuff out there. Of course, he never claims that his show doesnt involve "stooges" and carefully-constructed apparatuses to allow him to perform such mind-freaking things like walking on water or walking on air between two buildings.
So why exactly is Criss on this show? What experience does he have in magic that cant be learned by reading any one of a hundred books on magic in a library?
If you want a psychic expert, why not get James Randi, who has spent most of his life working to debunk characters just like Jim Callahan. Randi even has a million dollar challenge that is open to anyone "that can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties."
So why did the producers go with Criss? Because he's popular. Because he's got that rock star look. Its certainly not because he is any good.
And because Uri Geller has a big problem with James Randi, who way back in 1972, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Geller was a total fraud.
Randi wrote a book called "The Magic of Uri Geller" where he showed that Geller was using simple magic tricks to accomplish his alleged fantastic feats of paranormal skill.
So it makes sense that they wouldnt put Randi and Geller on the same set.
As Randi himself puts it, "I’m sure that NBC is also taking pains to see that the Randi element doesn’t get to enter in here, since it might bring a more rational atmosphere to the show, and lose viewers…"
Here's a video showing how Randi made a total fool out of Geller on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Its a long video, but along with the shock and horror that most people in this day and age might have at seeing a television host actually smoke cigarettes on the air, (Shocking!) the clip goes into detail about the kind of trickery that celebrity psychics like to use.
Watch this, and then ask yourself why they are not using Randi on Phenomenon.