NBC’s Phenomenon, a competition between mentalists, debuts tonight

Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, NBC debuts Phenomenon, a live competition between mentalists (i.e. magicians/illusionists) that’s hosted and judged by Uri Geller and Criss Angel. The winner, who will be selected by viewers, gets $250,000.

On the show, “10 carefully selected mentalists … will compete live against one another each week by demonstrating a wide spectrum of mystifying talents on a panel of celebrity guests who experience the spellbinding illusions along with the studio audience,” according to NBC. The show “is based on a successful Israeli version judged and monitored by Geller, which achieved a historical record-breaking viewing audience.”

Criss Angel told the Orlando Sentinel that he’s participating because “”I just thought a show like this would give people a legitimate opportunity. I’m going to experience as you and all the home viewers are for the very first time when they’re performing it. Then to see what their claim is I think has, as I said, all the ingredients for a very exciting and potentially explosive show,” he said.

And without directly referencing his spoon-bending and co-host, he said, “I’m not out to do anybody wrong or to embarrass people. I’m not that type of person. I’m just talking about the facts. When I say explosive if somebody claims to be able to bend, let’s just say a spoon with supernatural ability, I think it’s an explosive situation to be able to put that person in a situation to demonstrate without the methodology that they’re using.”

Phenomenon [NBC]
Criss Angel likes the possibilities of NBC’s “Phenomenon” [Orlando Sentinel]