American Masters (2015 Season) – Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice

Air date: 01/23/2015

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Series Launches 29th Season with its First Profile of a Magician

 

Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice premieres nationwide Friday, January 23 on PBS

 

Preview video and connect with more than 200 cultural icons at pbs.org/americanmasters

 

 

For the first time, THIRTEEN’s American Masters series profiles a magician: the inimitable Ricky Jay, considered one of the world’s greatest conjurers, capable of creating a profound sense of wonder and disbelief in even the most jaded of audiences. He is also a best-selling author, historian, actor and a leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts.

Launching the series’ 29th season, American Masters — Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice premieres nationwide Friday, January 23, 9-10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and journeys into the mysterious world of sleight-of-hand and the small circle of eccentrics who are its perpetual devotees. Told largely in Jay’s own distinctive voice, the documentary traces the story of his achievement, beginning at age 4 as apprentice to his grandfather Max Katz, an accomplished amateur magician, and features rare footage of some of the most influential magicians of the 20th century: Cardini, Slydini, Al Flosso, Dai Vernon and Charles Miller.

Narrated by Dick Cavett, American Masters — Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice weaves together new interviews with Jay, his friends and collaborators, including writer/director David Mamet, and rare performance footage from his one-man shows and classic TV appearances, among them a hilarious turn with Steve Martin on Dinah Shore’s 1970s program. Filmmakers Molly Bernstein (editor, American Masters — Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About) and Alan Edelstein (Oscar-nominated producer, The Wizard of Strings) explore the arduous demands of the magician’s craft, the use of language and storytelling central to the art, and this ancient tradition’s future.

“All the arts are forms of magic, and the wonderment, mystery and pure joy of seeing a master like Ricky Jay perform is a thrill like no other,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “This intimate film makes you marvel at his genius and allows you to peek behind the curtain at many of the greatest magicians of the last century.”

“I am truly honored to be included in this iconic series, and grateful to be able to introduce viewers to the great sleight-of-hand artists who were my mentors and my inspiration,” says Ricky Jay.

Launched in 1986 by series creator Susan Lacy, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. Now beginning its 29th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.

To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, photos, outtakes, essays and other resources. American Masters is also seen on the WORLD channel.

American Masters — Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice is a production of Hopscotch Films. Molly Bernstein is producer, director and editor. Alan Edelstein is producer and co-director. Alicia Sams and Philip Dolin are producers. Cathy Greenwold and Terry Gross are executive producers. Edward Marritz, Joey Forsyte and Ben Wolf are cinematographers with original music by Olivier and Clare Manchon. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters.

American Masters is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, Rhoda Herrick, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.

 

About WNET

As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore App where users can stream PBS content for free.

 

###

Photos
For editorial use in North America only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of AMERICAN MASTERS. No other rights are granted. All rights reserved. Downloading this image constitutes agreement to these terms.

For the first time, the “American Masters” series profiles a magician: the inimitable Ricky Jay, considered one of the world’s greatest conjurers. Launching the series’ 29th season, “American Masters — Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice” premieres nationwide Friday, January 23, 9-10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Photo credit: Courtesy of Hopscotch Films

Ricky Jay. Photo credit: Myrna Suarez/Film Society of New York

Ricky Jay. Photo credit: Theo Westenberger/Autry Museum

Ricky Jay. Photo credit: Jesse Dylan

Ricky Jay and mentor. Photo credit: photo by Stephen Berkman

Ricky Jay. Photo credit: Photo by Lara Jo Regan

Ricky Jay. Photo credit: John Gaughan

(l to r) “American Masters — Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice” producer and co-director Alan Edelstein and producer, director and editor Molly Bernstein. Photo credit: Philip Dolin

“American Masters” series executive producer Michael Kantor. Credit: Joseph Sinnott ©2014 WNET. All rights reserved

Ricky Jay began his magic career at age 4 as apprentice to his grandfather Max Katz (1891 – 1965, pictured), who was an amateur magician and president of the Society of American Magicians. Katz and his magicians friends — Slydini, Francis Carlyle, Dai Vernon, Al Flosso — became Jay’s mentors in the art of magic. Credit: Courtesy of the Society of American Magicians

Originally from Canada, Dai Vernon (1894 – 1992, pictured), known as “The Professor,” spent time in New York with magicians Nate Leipzig and Max Malini before moving to California, where Ricky Jay sought him out at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. One of Jay’s mentors, Vernon is famous for his sleight-of-hand magic, card work, and cup and balls trick. Credit: Courtesy of the Dai Vernon Estate

One of Ricky Jay’s mentors, Dai Vernon (1894 – 1992), known as “The Professor,” performs at Kit Kat Club in New York City. Credit: Courtesy of the Dai Vernon Estate

Ricky Jay considers his mentors Charlie Miller (1909 – 1989, pictured) and Dai Vernon (1894 – 1992) to be the two greatest sleight-of-hand artists of their time. Miller was particularly known for his fantastic memory and work with cards. Credit: Courtesy of Pam Young

One of Ricky Jay’s mentors, Max Malini (1873–1942), performed entirely without props and made his reputation doing impromptu pieces, such as making an enormous block of ice appear. In “American Masters — Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice,” “The Guardian” journalist Suzie Mackenzie recounts the story of Jay making a block of ice appear. Credit: Courtesy of Ricky Jay

One of Ricky Jay’s mentors and a family friend, Al Flosso (1895 – 1976), known as “the Coney Island Fakir,” was a New York City magician who performed in Coney Island, had a magic shop on 34th Street and made appearances in film and on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Jay credits Flosso with getting him interested in the history of magic. Pictured: Flosso (left) performing in the Catskills, New York. Credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Ricky Jay considers his mentors Charlie Miller (1909 – 1989, pictured) and Dai Vernon (1894 – 1992) to be the two greatest sleight-of-hand artists of their time. Miller was particularly known for his fantastic memory and work with cards. Credit: Courtesy of Ricky Jay

One of Ricky Jay’s mentors, Cardini (1895 – 1973) was born in the United Kingdom and became a successful magician in New York City, where he performed his transcendent card effects in venues such as The Palace, Radio City Music Hall and Copacabana. Jay says Cardini was probably the greatest act he ever saw in his life. Credit: Courtesy of Brad Ball

One of Ricky Jay’s mentors, Cardini (1895 – 1973) was born in the United Kingdom and became a successful magician in New York City, where he performed his transcendent card effects in venues such as The Palace, Radio City Music Hall and Copacabana. Pictured: Cardini with his wife Swan. Credit: Courtesy of Brad Ball

One of Ricky Jay’s mentors, Slydini (1900 – 1991) was born in Italy and raised in Argentina. He later settled in New York City and became world renowned for his close-up work. Ricky Jay’s grandfather, Max Katz, advised him to observe Slydini’s incredible ability to misdirect attention. Credit: Courtesy of D. Robbins & Co.