Television: Magic and illusion come to The CW


The CW Network launches two programs this week about the world of magic and illusions -- "Masters of Illusions" and "Penn & Teller: Fool Us."

Michael Grandinetti, one of the performers on "Masters of Illusions," which premieres at 8 p.m. Friday, doesn’t see any problem with televised magic.

"It is actually better than watching live because the viewer gets a far better look than a live audience. I made sure there were hand-held cameras that could move around and show the illusion from various angles," Grandinetti says.

"I believe TV enhances the magic and makes it a special experience."

His performance is part of the series that features magic from top illusionists and escape artists. Each episode of the show, hosted by Dean Cain, displays skills ranging from perplexing interactive mind magic to comedy routines.

Grandinetti, who will appear in several episodes, believes every illusion has the potential to be great on television.

"You have to approach each illusion from a television standpoint. The steel wall is a very big spectacular illusion that works because of so much emphasis I put on test conditions. I had it examined by audience. That is how you sell everything we are doing," Grandinetti says.

While there will always be skeptics, Grandinetti has been in love with and studied magic for so many years that he’s come to realize that most people want to be amazed.

Grandinetti, a Pennsylvania native, got his first magic kit when he was 5 and recalls, as a teenager, going to a Pittsburgh magic shop every Saturday to spend his allowance on another trick.

He was so interested in magic, he wrote letters to magicians around the world offering to trade them VHS tapes of magic on TV.

That childhood passion became a career and Grandinetti has performed on television and venues around the world.

The one thing he’s learned is that magic is 50 percent illusion and 50 percent presentation.

"Each illusion starts with a basic idea. I heard a piece of music and it made me think of the steel wall illusion. It took seven years to make it work and be as strong as I could make it. I wanted everything to be clean and straightforward."

The other new magic show, "Penn & Teller: Fool Us," features the madcap magicians throwing down a challenge: anyone who can fool them with an illusion will be hired to perform in their Las Vegas show. The first contenders take their most magical shots in the series opener at 8 tonight.


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