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How'd he do that? ABC's star-studded David Blaine: Real or Magic mystifies, amuses, chills


David Blaine toys with minds of Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul. ABC photo

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David Blaine stumps stars and commoners alike with the ease of Drew Brees completing a pass against the Dallas Cowboys.

Their reactions often are as much fun as the stuff he pulls off in ABC’s 90-minute David Blaine: Real or Magic. Feel free to shake your head in amazement -- or in some cases cover your eyes -- when it premieres on Tuesday, Nov. 19th at 8:30 p.m. (central)..

Blaine, who turned 40 this year, is notably less sober-faced than in his formative years. He’s now letting himself smile or laugh easily, whether performing a stunning array of card tricks or poking an ice pick through his palm as an ice breaker in the opening minutes of Real or Magic.

‘You’re just out of your mind in the most beautiful way possible,” Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul tells him after witnessing Blaine first dodge a hidden ice pick and then willingly pierce himself with it without ever drawing blood. These two performances also are experienced by Bryan Cranston, Kanye West, Woody Harrelson, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden Smith and assorted other unidentified witnesses.

“Man, I lost my erection entirely,” says Harrelson.

ABC warns viewers against trying this at home -- or anywhere else for that matter. Because after all, Blaine is a trained professional who in recent years also has hung himself upside down in Central Park for 60 hours; been buried alive for a week; and had himself encased in ice for three days and nights.

Blaine still takes to the streets to wow everyday people. But his latest special is thoroughly infused with legitimately major stars. Besides the aforementioned, there’s also Katy Perry, Woody Allen, Robert De Niro, Jon Stewart, Jamie Foxx, Olivia Wilde and Harrison Ford, who grins but also seems very creeped out when Blaine produces a playing card out of a piece of fruit in the actor’s kitchen.

“Get the (bleep) out of my house. OK?” Ford responds.

George W. Bush and Stephen Hawking also are among the mystified and amazed before Blaine hits the homestretch. First he’s determined to replicate a trick that’s puzzled him for years -- an old master’s ability to store water before imbibing kerosene, breathing fire and then putting the blaze out by using his mouth as a water hose.

“There’s hard evidence that ingesting kerosene will lead to death,” Blaine says rather needlessly.

Gervais is on the receiving end of his grand finale. Hoping to convert the comic from skeptic to believer, Blaine sticks a long needle into his bicep before an aghast Gervais watches it come out the other end.

“You’re a maniac. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he says before Blaine persuades him to pull it back out. It’s absolutely positively not for the squeamish in a special that ends up going on somewhat longer than it should.

Sure wish I could do some of those card and money tricks, though. Uncle Barky: Fruitcake or Nut Case could make for quite a special. But Blaine will always remain leaps and bounds ahead -- of everyone it seems. And for the most part, Real or Magic is one great big wow of jaw-dropping and sometimes hair-raising entertainment.


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