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Magician Loses Bid to Quash Trick's Exposure

April 30, 1998|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Wednesday denied a magician's request for the deletion of a segment from a Fox television program next week that the magician claims unlawfully exposes an illusion he designed.

Judge Robert O'Brien rejected the application for a temporary restraining order filed by magician Andre Cole, who is also a designer of elaborate effects for major magicians such as David Copperfield. The complaint was aimed at the third in a series of Fox programs that expose how magic tricks are performed.

Cole claimed that the latest Fox special, scheduled to air Tuesday, misappropriates the trade secret behind "The Table of Death," an elaborate trick that involves a magician lying on a medieval-style table while a bed of spikes is suspended over him by a burning rope.

While O'Brien cleared the way for Fox to air the segment on "Breaking the Magic Code: Magic's Secrets Finally Revealed," he set May 13 for a hearing to explore the issues raised in Cole's claim and determine whether Fox had the right to broadcast it.

David Baram, an attorney for Cole, said he would appeal the decision before the program airs. "We contend that Fox's conduct is unlawful. We will pursue our rights and we expect to prevail at trial," Baram said.

Fox declined comment.

The "Breaking the Magic Code" specials have drawn the wrath of magicians who claim the programs have hurt business and damaged their reputations, while ruining the enjoyment of magic and illusions for children and other fans.

The programs have proven to be hugely popular with viewers, however. The first installment, which aired in November, was Fox's highest-rated special ever, attracting more than 24 million viewers and eclipsing the audience for any game of the 1997 World Series.

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