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Bradley Morgan
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Toluca Lake CA
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I would love you know what the guys are doing to get ready and any experiences they would like to share with us concerning there journey so far on AGT.

Mr. Alexander, Landon Swank,Dan Sperry and anyone ells that would like to share their story's.

Whats the real scene like behind the cameras for a magician? have you had to do multiple takes? Is there pressure to outperform each week? Did you plan out the whole season already or are you makin it up as you go?

Lets start there.

Thanks

And congratulations to Scott Alexander & Landon Swank for making it to the next level. We wish them the very best, and hope they make it far.
"I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones." - Einstein
jimmyrook
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This happened to me in 2009. Hopefully it will give a good insight into what happens behind the scenes.

"America’s Got Talent has featured a lot of amazing magicians this year. I was not one of them. I didn’t want to come out with this story until after all the auditions had been completed, however it is now time for me to tell the magic community what happened to me during my plight to be on Americas Got Talent.

I arrived at the Miami auditions bright and early at 4:30am. I waited in line till about 7:00am when the auditions officially started. At 7:00am they brought all the contestants into a large holding room, where I waited until 9:00am when they walked all of us outside and took various shots of the crowd with people yelling “America I got talent!” or “Miami’s Got Talent!”. After and hour and a half of filming they brought us all back into the holding room. At 12:00 they started bringing us into the audition rooms. I was going to be auditioning with Velocity (for those who are not familiar with the effect its by Scott Alexander and it’s a paintball bullet catch well worth the money!) I was not allowed to bring the gun to the first round of auditions so the producers of the show told me I should bring a DVD of me performing the effect in front of a crowd.

I was brought into the audition room, there was a gentlemen taping the audition, a female who was keeping track of all the paperwork, and a producer. I introduced myself and the producer asked me what I would be performing. I handed him a copy of my DVD, I was asked to stay in the room while he watched it. After he watched the DVD he asked me to step outside for a moment. A few minutes later I was called back in to the audition room and the producer told me, that he liked the effect and that I would be moving on to see the executive producers. He said that he thought “new and exciting”.

I walk into the executive producers room and there was a table full of producers, they watched the DVD of my act and send me back out of the room and a few minutes later called me back in. I stood in front of them and they begin to ask me a bunch of questions related to my act. “ Is this the only effect you perform?” one asked. “ Can you do other large scale illusions?” another one asked. I told them the I can do all types of magic, from comedy to large-scale illusions. We talked about having me perform my version of the asrah levitation but the producers decided against it and rather me stick with velocity. I was then sent to another holding room where I was told that another producer would interview me.

I met my producer and we sat down and she asked me a bunch of questions about my act such as; “what would it mean to you to win America’s Got Talent”, “Would you say you’re the next David Copperfield?”, and “What do you think of the judges?” During my interview I mentioned that if I could do anything I want on stage I would invite David Hasselhoff on stage and have him pull the trigger on the paint ball gun. The producer stopped the interview and asked me to repeat what I just said; I again told her I would like David to shoot me. She went out of the room for a moment and came back with a big smile on her face. She told me she had talked to the directors and they loved the idea. That I should be prepared to have David be involved in my act. After shooting interviews and b-roll for what seemed like hours, I was finally released. I was told that I would be performing at the Miami auditions in front of the celebrity judges.

It was a week until the Miami auditions and I rehearsed ever-single day. I rewrote my patter so I could fit the effect in the 90 seconds that I was allotted. During one of the rehearsals my cell phone rang and it was my producer Nigel. He told me that he discussed the idea of using David in the effect and the director thought it would be better if I use Nick Cannon instead. He also said instead of having me test fire the gun on stage, he wanted Nick to do it. I told him that would not be a problem however I needed a few moments with Nick to go over some things with him. Nigel said that wouldn’t be a problem and he would see me at the Miami auditions.

I arrived at the Miami audition and told that we would be shooting more interviews. I was asked the same questions again and however this time they asked that I talk about bringing Nick Cannon into the act. After about an hour of interviews it was time to wait again. I waited in the holding room for about four hours when Nigel came up to me and told me that they where ready for me to rehearse the effect with Nick. I made my way to the stage and they had built a very large target for Nick to shoot at. I went over the effect with Nick and we rehearsed it a few times until he got it correct. I was then sent back to the holding room to wait. I was told I would be the last act to perform during the morning auditions. At 6:00pm Nigel came up to me and told me “Jimmy, I am very sorry but we have just run out of time, you will not be able to perform in front of the judges today.” I was crushed. By chance to be on the show taken away from me before I even walked out on stage. Nigel apologized and I was send home.

About a week later my phone rang, it was Nigel he told me “Jimmy the producers have booked the line up for our next taping, and we would like you to be on it. Do you have any problems if we fly you to LA?” of course I immediately took the opportunity and thank him. He emailed me all of the travel information and two days later I was off to LA. NBC flew me out to LA and put me up at a wonderful hotel that overlooked the airport. I had been flown out there on a Monday morning, I had Monday to myself, I would perform on Tuesday and fly home on Wednesday. Monday evening I took advantage of being in LA and rented a limo and headed to the Magic Castle. I had a pleasant evening there and enjoyed an amazing show by Fielding West and Murray. I went back to the hotel and there was a message for me at the front desk. It was my producer Nigel. The message stated that they moved me the morning auditions at I needed to be ready by 7:30 am (which was about four hours away). I went back to bed to get some rest.

I woke up a few hours later, got dressed and headed downstairs where more producers, other acts, and a van that shuttled us to the venue met me. I arrived at the venue and checked in with the producers. I was told to hang around in a particular area because they wanted to shoot more interviews however this time with Nick Cannon. It wasn’t until the afternoon that Nick arrived. He came into the holding area and welcomed all the acts; he congratulated the acts for making it this far and wished us all good luck. I was then escorted over the area when Nick and I sat down for an interview. Nick asked me about the bullet catch and how it was very dangerous. After the interview I was told to get ready because I would be opening the show.

After another hour or so of waiting I was told it was time to start. I was brought backstage and was told they wanted to shoot more interviews with Nick and I. So moments before taking the stage Nick and I talked about the effect and I invited him to perform it with me. When the interview was done, Nick wished me luck and I went on stage.

I took the stage and went to the giant “X” in the center I introduced myself. Sharon asked me “What is it that you do” I responded “I take magic to the edge!”. Sharon then told me to begin. I Stepped back and began my patter. I fired the gun in the air “Ladies and Gentlemen the sound you just heard was compressed air traveling out of the end of this gun at approximately 200 miles per hour. In a moment you’re going to hear the sound one more time. The difference is this time there will be a projectile in it traveling at that speed and it will be traveling toward my face. Now this is a very dangerous effect and I need someone to help me out with this, ladies and gentlemen please put your hands together for Mr. Nick Cannon!” The crowd began clapping as Nick made his way onto the stage. I instructed Nick to pick out a paintball, any one at random and load it into the gun. I handed him the paintball gun and told him to take aim at the target. Nick then fired one shot at the target and the paintball exploded everywhere. I heard the audience gasp. I then instructed Nick to pick out another bullet, I then handed him a sharpie I asked him to draw a picture or write his name on it so if he saw it again later, and he would be able to recognize it. Nick loaded the gun one more time, and I stepped back so I was under the target. I opened my mouth. At that time my music kicked in “Danger Zone”. The audience was silent, as Nick fired the paintball into my mouth. I turned to the audience and pointed to the bullet in between my teeth; at that time the crowd began cheering. I walked over to Nick and spat the bullet onto a plate. I asked Nick if that was his bullet with his signature, His eyes widen as he told everyone “yep that’s my bullet” He shook my hand and went off stage. At no point in time did the judges ever hit their buzzers; in fact while I was performing they never moved. I felt really good, like I had hit it out of the park. I went to the center “X” for the critique and that’s when the drama began.

“Well Piers do you want to start?” Sharon asked. Piers looked at me and said, “Well, then, that was all just a scam!” Confused I looked at him “excuse me?” “That was I scam, you didn’t really just do that, there was a double and you switched it somehow!” “No, No I didn’t I just caught that in my teeth!” I responded. “No you didn’t! Don’t lie to me!” Piers fired back. At this point I heard Nick in the background say something to the effect of “I can’t believe there giving him a hard time, that was an amazing trick!” “You mean to tell me that bullet came out of that gun?!” Piers asked. “Ah, yes, yes it did” I responded. “Stop lying tome! Look me in the eye and tell me that!” At this point I was so overwhelmed I took a breathe and tried to think of what to say, Piers never let up “You cant do it can you! You can’t look me in the eye and tell me can you!” I went to answer him, when he interrupted me. “I don’t want to hear anything but a yes or no! You cant do it!” I looked him square in the eye and told him. “Piers, I am NOT the masked magician. I am not telling you anything!” At that moment the crowd burst into applause. Nick was backstage and I heard him say, “That was a great answer!” Piers then sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “ Well then it’s a No from me!” Shocked at this whole situation, I just put on an amazing performance and I was told “no” because I wouldn’t reveal how the effect was performed. Sharon looked up at me and asked if I performed any other type of magic. I told her I did and that I could do large scale illusions, however I had decided on Velocity because I felt it was something different. She neither said yes or no, but sat back in her chair and David began talking. “Well to win Americas Got Talent you have to go big, and I don’t think you did that today, I am sorry but it’s a no from me as well” Sharon then looked at me and said “Well thank you for coming”. I made my way off stage and talked to Nick for an exit interview. “Man when they said no my heart sunk, I thought you did a great job, I felt like I was right there with you out there” I thanked Nick for his help and told him that I would see him again next year. I made my way back to the holding room and Nigel came up to me. “Jimmy I am so sorry, on behalf of the producers and directors, we really enjoyed your act and would not have flown you out here if we didn’t think you where good enough to go on” He then gave me his contact information and told me if I wanted to come back next year that I should give him a call.

I flew home the next day, with a feeling of pride. I stood up against Piers Morgan and The Masked Magician at the same time. I stood up for magic as art and as entertainment. I left with my integrity intact. So for any magician out there thinking about trying out next year I hope this article serves as a warning, be careful and stay true to your art. Magic Always!"
Xpilot
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Fascinating story. Sort of like Tom Mullica at FISM 1988- if you fool the judges badly enough they'll say you're not a good enough magician.
Ray Pierce
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I'm not sure if fooling the judges was really the issue, nor was standing up for magic and protecting it as an art or anything else. Yes, it is interesting and we can all learn from it but maybe not for the reasons that are obvious. I've always said that methods aren't as important, the real effect to the audience is and this could be a prime example of that. I love Scott and this effect but I think the problem could have been that it wasn't technically a magic effect. What really is the effect of any bullet catch? We ourselves know that it uses a lot of magical technique but the effect to the audience is that of supernatural control or ability, not traditional magic. I'm not a fan of Piers at all (in fact I think he's generally a pompous a**) but I do think he had a right to say what he did.

You're dealing with a show that has people with real amazing abilities on a daily basis. Last week a guy jumped from 26 feet into 12 inches of water. Now let's take the same scenario and use magic technology to accomplish that. Let's say he said he was going to do a jump from 26 feet into water, then climbed up there, rolled down a shadow screen, you see a projected shadow of him falling, then when the screen comes down... he is in the pool soaking wet. Do you think Piers would have called him out on it? Of course, we all would because we all knew he didn't really do what he promised. The show has people doing spectacular stunts all the time so this fell into that category because of the effect.

It would be like a psychic surgeon coming on stage claiming to be real. It would be his challenge to expose this as a fraud. You are not claiming to be able to magically produce playing cards which is an obvious magic effect, you were claiming to be able to catch a paintball fired from a gun at 200 mph in your mouth which if we think about the effect carefully... is not magic at all.

If you would have said that you were going to create the illusion of being able to catch a paintball in your mouth he couldn't have said anything but it would have been a really lame idea for an effect then. My take away from this is that you came up with the very spectacular effect with the best of intentions but in this particular case, where they are actually looking for exceptional people with extraordinary abilities, performing an "illusion" of that effect might have been the mistake.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Bradley Morgan
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Wow! What a story! Thank you for sharing it with us. There is always more going on than we think. Sometimes drama in a show like this makes better ratings than actually looking for good talent.

Thanks again for sharing.
"I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones." - Einstein
Xpilot
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Quote:
On 2011-06-12 12:44, Ray Pierce wrote:
I'm not sure if fooling the judges was really the issue, nor was standing up for magic and protecting it as an art or anything else. Yes, it is interesting and we can all learn from it but maybe not for the reasons that are obvious.


You make some valid points in general. Arguing with Piers about the method was probably a mistake for 2 reasons. The first is that Piers has the upper hand with his vote. The second is that when you do a trick and then claim it was real (such as your psychic surgery example) then you should expect to be called on it.

Don't know that it would have kept him on the show, but I think perhaps a better reply when Piers called it a 'scam' would have been to reply, "I'm a magician, I suppose you could say that everything I do is a "scam" just like every other magician in the world".
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On 2011-06-13 10:30, Xpilot wrote:
Arguing with Piers about the method was probably a mistake for 2 reasons. The first is that Piers has the upper hand with his vote. The second is that when you do a trick and then claim it was real (such as your psychic surgery example) then you should expect to be called on it.


Good points. Yes, arguing with the "judges" is usually a losing proposition in the beginning rounds. In the later rounds with an audience vote, you can sometimes get the audience on your side but it's rare and risky.

Quote:
Don't know that it would have kept him on the show, but I think perhaps a better reply when Piers called it a 'scam' would have been to reply, "I'm a magician, I suppose you could say that everything I do is a "scam" just like every other magician in the world".


That's not a bad idea. I'm really not sure much could have been done at that point as the routine wasn't viewed as magic but as an "extraordinary ability" effect. Only people who know the method realize that it's magic.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Ray Pierce
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We had another young magician on AGT last night that "got through". His hook appeared to be to just produce as many girls as time allowed and evidently it worked for him. To be fair he did do a transposition at the end with one girl. It didn't really inspire me with personality, performance, technique or presentation although he moved the furniture correctly in all cases.

Years ago a great friend and I did a parody routine at the Magic Castle one night where we just vanished canes. Dozens of them! It grew from the awareness that some magicians simply produce things over and over. At first it is good, then it get's better, then it just gets ridiculous and boring if there is no growth. Fortunately, this magician stopped short of that final phase.

Again, This young man might be a great performer and just holding back for the first round, only time will tell. Good luck to all the participants!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
innercirclewannabe
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In direct response to Jimmyrook, I have to say that I am not surprised by the reaction Morgan gave you. That is why I hate these talent shows, it is all about the judges and not the act at all. Morgan was a British Journo & not a very good one at that in my opinion. His friendship with Cowell has transformed him from that same hack to being elevated way beyond his talents. Larry King,he is not! The judges on these shows are so far up their own (you know what!) that they live in a paralell universe than most of us. Don't worry Jimmyrook - you stood your ground against the 3 Ego's & for that you are indeed a winner!
Tá sé ach cleas má dhéanann tú sé cuma mhaith ar cheann.
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On 2011-06-25 12:02, innercirclewannabe wrote:
Don't worry Jimmyrook - you stood your ground against the 3 Ego's & for that you are indeed a winner!


I think a huge resource of shows like this is the ability to learn from them. I will never try and convince anyone that Piers isn't a massive egomaniac but we need to chose battles we can actually win. There was a "Broadway style" act called "Triple Threat" that was on the show a few days ago. I wanted them to be good as they seemed nice but the reality was that they were just low end theme park kids that couldn't sing, dance OR act well. They stood up to the judges as well when they X'd them. Should we tell them they were winners for standing up to the evil egos on the panel? There is an old expression... Never get into an argument with a newspaper. They've got more ink than you've got. It's the same here. A magician a few years ago was doing that window illusion and obviously flashed it to everyone. When the judges called him on it, he back peddled saying that it worked perfectly and he meant to do it, he had done nothing wrong. It became more and more apparent that the guy was either totally delusional or just too stubborn to admit that he messed up. There was no question about it. Was he brave for standing up the the judges and defending the art?

I'm guessing that Jimmyrook did a really good job of the paintball gun routine. Their comments were not about his talent but about the basic premise of the effect which has been discussed above.

I think we can learn two things from this for this particular show:

#1 - Do what you promise. If you claim to be a magician and can magically produce someone from a box, then do it. If you claim to be able to jump into a 12" pool from 28 feet up, do it. If you claim to be able to catch a paintball in your mouth, you had better be able to actually do it, not fake it.

#2 - Don't try to debate the judges on your talent, they will always win. It's fun TV, but the producers can edit it to make you look however is the most interesting to the show.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
innercirclewannabe
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Of course what you write is true Ray. However, the other dimension that I forgot to add to my reply was, just like the English equivalent - I always have a chuckle when I see the judging panel. What does Piers Morgan know about performing for a living? (Although, he is a Spoofer - so that is a performance in itself) I don't know who the other panel are, but I for one would have a problem with somebody judging me, who hasn't walked in my shoes! I still say Jimmyrook was right to stand up to the Ego's & for that he has indeed won!
Tá sé ach cleas má dhéanann tú sé cuma mhaith ar cheann.
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