Criss Angel challenges Uri Geller and Jim Callahan over paranormal claims

Saturday, November 10, 2007

On Halloween night, October 31, during a 2-hour long live episode of NBC show Phenomenon, famed magician Criss Angel told Uri Geller and Jim Callahan, "I will give you a million dollars of my personal money right now if either one of you can tell me specific details of what’s in [this envelope] right now." While Geller ignored Angel's challenge, Callahan started to confront Angel in a hostile manner, as host Tim Vincent held him back and Geller held Angel back.

Previously Angel made it clear that he will not "tolerate" fellow magicians who try to pass their illusions off as paranormal. For example, on the day before the Halloween special, Angel told Larry King, "No one has the ability, that I'm aware of, to do anything supernatural, psychic, talk to the dead. And that was what I said I was going to do with Phenomenon. If somebody goes on that show and claims to have supernatural psychic ability, I'm going to bust them live and on television."

In the midst of the confrontation, the TV show cut to a commercial break. Vincent said the show was not "Jerry Springer." When the last contestant appeared Angel said it was "a hell of a lot more entertaining than the previous act." The following week Callahan was voted off the show by the TV audience.

James Randi, a former magician who had previously worked with Angel and a long standing critic of Geller and psychics, wrote of the incident, "Criss Angel said, in his rather lengthy comments, '[Callahan] demonstrated something that is unexplainable to some' — though to whom that might have applied, I cannot fathom — and Criss is beginning to sound very much like that chap James Randi, tossing about a million-dollar challenge."

This is not the first time that Uri Geller has been challenged by a professional magician. Thirty years ago, during a French television show called Droit de réponse, Gerard Majax demonstred that all "so called" powers shown previously during the show by Geller could be reproduced by a magician even more convincingly than Geller.