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Jim Callahan vs. Criss Angel - VIDEO

by Brett Love, posted Nov 2nd 2007 10:28AM
criss angel - phenomenonIn case you missed it -- and judging by the ratings, chances are you did -- there was a bit of blowup this week on NBC's new show Phenomenon. Paranormalist Jim Callahan had just finished his performance, where he was possessed by the spirit of author Raymond Hill. After that, they went to the judges for comments. Uri Gellar was rather positive about the whole thing, but Criss Angel, not so much.

He started his critique by saying, "I just think it's comical, quite frankly." Now, the good judge/bad judge routine is nothing new to this kind of a show. But then Angel went on to pull two envelopes from his pocket and put both Callahan and, strangely enough, Geller, on the spot, offering a million dollars if they could tell him what was in the envelopes. From there, things continued to go down hill. Watch the video, after the jump.

At first, I had no idea what the hell Angel was doing. Really, this is a stunt that could have been pulled on a number of the contestants. In fact, I'd count it in the same vein as if Callahan had responded, "Why don't you levitate over to the stage and I'll tell you what's in the envelope." Calling a magician -- or a paranormalist -- out after a trick like this is akin to the guy that wants to tell you that wrestling is fake. Yes, we get it. Now quit pissing in our cornflakes.

After reading a bit more about the incident, it seems that the issue at hand is the idea that Callahan is presenting himself as having real abilities. Even if that is the case though, this is not the place and Angel is only working against the show. It just doesn't make any sense to have a show based on performing feats of magic, and then have the guy that works for you say "Fake!"

When the show premiered, Angel led off by saying that the producers asked him to be brutally honest. I'm all for that. And if he wanted to go on about how he thought Callahan's possession performance was over-dramatic, how the falling out of the chair was a bit too much, or even be cross that Hill, an author, spelled 'wheels' wrong, that's fine. But leave the debunking for another time and place.

That's not to say that Angel was completely at fault here. I don't think there are any winners in this fight. Callahan could have handled this much better. I'm sure he's had hecklers before, and will again. Maybe not hecklers with diamond encrusted handcuffs around their necks, but hecklers just the same. Whether he just lost control or it was a calculated move to drum up some publicity for himself, he didn't show himself in the best light.

Of course, another part of the whole mess is the ongoing debate about whether or not the whole thing was set up to begin with. All the interested parties are saying absolutely not, but you can certainly see where the idea comes from. The ratings are heading in the wrong direction, and take a look at that video again. Is Tim Vincent holding Callahan back? Or is Callahan dragging him along? How about that date on the envelope? 10/24? And, most glaringly, NBC is promoting this video with the tagline "Fight!" It will be interesting to see what happens to the numbers next week.

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Jim Callahan has been a vocal critic of Criss Angel within the community for a long time based on blogs and bulletin boards I have read that are used by members of the magician's community. Surely, this is something that Criss is very aware of. I am sure you can tell by Criss's on stage presence that he is not a man to suffer critique or criticism well. One might go so far as to call him arrogant and petty. Callahan's buttons were pretty easy to push due to mutual distaste and there is your recipe for the blowup. It also explains why Callahan did not respond professionally to a heckler. It was personal. Bottom line here is that this is a horrible show and I cannot believe one fake hack called another fake hack- it is the kettle vs Pot. On aside note... does anyone else think that Criss Angel is looking like an over 40 Bon Jovi wanna be? Talk about hilarious... add to that the silly white guy with all that bling and he paints a pretty ridiculous picture.

November 09 2007 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe in black magic, because Im insame lol. To me it was a black magic dual between angel and callahan. There more magic that the eye can see. Two people who have special powers to cheat death. Two people who think there the best in dark magic. The grim reaper will follow if they are not carefull. ha ha lol.

November 08 2007 at 10:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcus Gorman

I haven't watched the video, but I will say this, as I say to many people:

Simon Cowell is a record producer. He doesn't have to sing to know what good or bad singing is. That's his damn job.

November 04 2007 at 11:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I sort of agree with Mitch, I don't really get the point of having the guy on the show in the first place if they thought he was a fraud. This isn't a cold call type thing like Idol is, is it? I don't know, I haven't seen it, I did see this clip, though, and at least one thing is true; Criss Angel is pretty good at what he does, so he at least has a right to critisize, unlike Cowell who can't sing. If you like this sort of thing, I'd say stick with Angel's A & E show, it's pretty good.

November 03 2007 at 3:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daniel W.

Criss Angel does not claim to have paranormal abilities. He says over and over that he is just a normal guy doing illusions, and that he has worked at his art since his childhood. I think what he did was absolutely beautiful. He has said in interviews that he wouldn't put up with anybody who claimed to have paranormal abilities, he would bust them on live TV, and he did.

November 02 2007 at 8:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Criss Angel was totally correct in his actions. Everyone else does their performance with the understanding it is a trick. This guy tried to pass himself off as being Jonathan Edward ("The Biggest Douche in the Universe") and really being able to talk to the dead. That set Criss off, because it conflates mentalism (i.e. neat tricks that take practice and talent to perform) with psychic paranormal crap. If the guy could really communicate with the dead, he should have taken Criss up on the offer.

And yes, all of these contestants so far are miserable. Criss Angel has done every single trick they have all done up to this point, and far better, too. I'm done with this show, I watched the first episodes but after this last one, I am no longer interested.

November 02 2007 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is absolutely great! Sounds like Criss is following in the example of James Randi, who offered Uri Geller 1 million dollars if he could prove his claims.

November 02 2007 at 4:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know how either Criss Angel or Uri Gellar just can sit there and watch these magicians/mentalists when they know how these "tricks" really work.

Maybe it was a way to get some buzz, but Criss really went after that guy; why, I don't know. But the whole show is kind of lame.

Are these the best up-and-coming magicians/mentalists in the world? Some are good, but none seem great.

November 02 2007 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It appears that what you're getting at is that Criss Angel is a prick. Thanks for that breaking news.

BTW, how did this show get a 2-hour block when NBC didn't give the much-(over)hyped Bionic Woman the decent 2-hour premier that it should have had? The main complaint to the B.W. premier (aside from bad acting, bad writing, bad casting) was that it felt rushed, that they tried to cram too much into a single hour. And this crap gets a nice leisurely 2 hours?

November 02 2007 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Criss has always said he tricks you. He can't levitate, its a trick. But Callahan said he was the real deal, and so did Geller back in the day. I believe Geller is the reason for the Randi Million Dollar Challenge (randi.org). I don't watch this show because of people like Callahan and Geller saying they are real psychics, which until they can be prove it, they are liars.

November 02 2007 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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