Way back at the end of June a man in a red jacket walked across the Thames River in London. This was a stunt meant to promote his new BBC television show Dynamo: Magician Impossible. The stunt did not quite have the effect he (Dynamo) hoped though. The National, an English-language publication based in the Middle East, questioned whether or not the age of the illusionist, or at least the televised illusionist, is over.
Now, David Copperfield has seemingly been immune from this suggestion. Yes, television served as the medium by which he made his career, a career in which may have made him a billionaire and allowed him to purchase a group of 11 islands in the Bahamas and renamed them “The Islands of Copperfield Bay”. For those who do not know, despite his impressive history as a magician before he even turned 18, his big break came after a chance meeting with an ABC executive in 1977 that led to Copperfield hosting “The Magic of ABC”.
However, Copperfield has avoided the small screen since 2001, after the Magic of David Copperfield XVII: Tornado of Fire earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program. Instead, he returned to the stage and sold David Copperfield tickets to 500 performances a year. This made him one of the highest grossing solo performers in the world while the networks and cable stations flooded the television schedule with a new generation of illusionists.
There was Criss Angel, who executives felt had the edgy style to attract the metal and hard rock audience, coming to the stage with crazy hair, eyeliner, modern hard rock music blasting in the background, and women in bikinis. There was David Blaine, who seemed to specialize in the equivalent of magic marine camp stunts, standing on a small platform for days, encased in ice for days, not eating for days, etc.
Now, every trend had its backlash, and perhaps this backlash came quickly. Perhaps the ultimate sign that the time of the illusionist on television had passed was when the cult classic comedy Arrested Development took aim at David Copperfield and other illusionists. The character Gob (George Oscar Bluth) is the founding member of the “Magicians’ Alliance” and a narcissistic screw up.
So, while Angel and Blaine were busy on televisions, Copperfield has succeeded touring the globe and occasionally taking up residence in Las Vegas. Currently, David Copperfield is performing at the Hollywood Theater in the MGM Grand Las Vegas, where he is outperforming Criss Angel’s competing Cirque du Soleil production.