TVGuide.com: How do you decide which tricks to reveal?
Don Weiner: The unique thing about this series is that in the 13 episodes, we are revealing about 120 illusions — from big, death-defying escapes and making giant objects appear and disappear, to close-up magic. We've collected illusions that we found were exciting and each showed off a different aspect of magic. It's a wide spectrum.
TVGuide.com: Is there any one secret that just blew you away, where you were like, "Wow, I would have never figured that's how it's done."
Weiner: Every illusion we pick has its own "wow" moment. That’s what's been fun about pulling this together, in that every illusion has its one big surprise. Even now, as we're finishing this first batch of 13 shows, I'm amazed every time we pull off one of the illusions. The [Masked] Magician [host] cheers, the crew cheers... and then we tear it apart and show you how to do it. Looking at the whole of the 120 illusions, it's mind-boggling that they come up with so many ways to fool us.
TVGuide.com: Would you say there is a common element to the secrets? Is misdirection the most dominant theme?
Weiner: Every illusion relies on the artistry of the magician and some basic misdirection. That being said, misdirection as it applies to a street magician is very different from how it applies to a big Vegas magician. The street magician is so much more in your face, almost touching your nose with the magic, that it's hard to imagine that they're pulling it off.
TVGuide.com: The street magician is like, "Hey, look at my left hand! Because I don’t want you to see what my right hand is doing," whereas the stage act says, "Behold this plume of smoke!"
Weiner: The plume of smoke, the beautiful women, huge props that have secret compartments and hidden doors and pyrotechnics.... And in the case of daredevil escapes where there is a lot of danger and skill involved, it’s not so much about misdirection but careful planning, rehearsal and nerves of steel.
TVGuide.com: Of the 120 secrets, I take it there is stuff there we can try at home?
Weiner: There are a lot of illusions for people to try at home. And there are a lot where we say, "Please do not try this at home. Leave it to a professional." [Laughs] There are things you’ve seen you uncle do at the kitchen table, and we'll show you how to do it yourself.
TVGuide.com: Do you still get threats from the magic community?
Weiner: There's been controversy surrounding these shows — a lot more than I had expected. The [Masked] Magician and I each have been contacted by some of the bigger magicians. They know we're doing the show and they're a bit afraid of what we're going to do. One of the big magicians actually put off the taping of a new special [because] he wanted to wait and see what we did [first]. He was afraid that we were going to give away some of his secrets. There is definitely an impact out there.
TVGuide.com: If anything, it should prod magicians to up their game.
Weiner: Exactly. Some of the feedback I've gotten from those close to the magic community is that after the first few specials, there was a huge uproar about how we were going to "ruin magic." We've always said that we're laying down a challenge to get rid of some of the old techniques that we have seen year in, year out, the stuff you might see at a 5-year-old's birthday party. So what we’ve seen over the last few years are some exciting new magicians who have a new style and new techniques, doing big illusions and great street magic that is totally different than what was done 20 years go. We like to think that magicians have taken our challenge and stepped up and evolved — in a way they would not have without us challenging them.