Historian Erik Barnouw's new book looks into how the dawn of trick cinema and depictions of magic in films undermined the popularity of live magic shows. He later talks to Terry Gross about the pressure television broadcasters experience from boycotts and sponsors to highlight or remove certain kinds of content.
Penn Jillette is half of the duo Penn & Teller, who bring a new, irreverent spin to magic shows. Well-versed in the traditions of the art, they aim to break old, familiar rules and conventions -- sometimes to the point of angering other magicians
Magician and juggler Penn Jillette. As half of the comedy team of Penn and Teller, he's performed his macabre illusions on "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night with David Letterman," and now Broadway. (Rebroadcast. Original broadcast Friday, June 19, 1987.)
Magician and juggler Penn Jillette. He's one half of the comedy team of Penn and Teller. They are to traditional magic what the Rolling Stones are to the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Penn and Teller revel in making fun of traditional magicians, whom they characterize as sleazy lounge performers. Their hit Broadway show was a mix of rock and roll, insults, self-injury and baffling illusions. When David Letterman invited Penn and Teller to "Late Night," the pair made hundreds of hissing cockroaches appear on Dave's desk.
Ricky Jay has been called "a master in the art of deception," and "one of the greatest sleight of hand artists in the world." Next spring Jay will star in the one-man show Ricky Jay on Broadway. A few years ago, he starred in the off-Broadway show Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants, which was directed by David Mamet. Jay has had a long-term collaboration with Mamet, acting in the films House of Games, Things Change, Homicide, Spanish Prisoner, State and Main, and co-starring in Mamet's new film, Heist.
His new book is Dice: Deception, Fate & Rotten Luck. It's a collection of essays about the history of dice and the many ways of cheating at the game. The New York Times says of Jay, "He's a master's master." His other books include Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women and Jay's Journal of Anomalies. He's appeared in a number of David Mamet films and his one-man shows include Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants and Ricky Jay: On the Stem.