Life got a little sad for me when one of my favorite shows exited my television line-up. It was based on an author aiding the cops in solving crimes even though he wasn’t cut out for the job. Now, I don’t have to suffer any longer, because Deception is hitting the airwaves today at 10/9 c and I can look forward to Sunday evening programming. It stars Jack Cutmore-Scott who you may know from his small role in Kingsman. While on our A Wrinkle In Time press junket, we were able to screen the first episode of this fast paced show, and I was impressed. I don’t like to see too many things coming, and with magic in the mix of this new show, I like being able to just enjoy what I’m shown for what it is. A show about a magician who is attempting to save someone he loves and needs while using magic. He partners with the FBI, staging elaborate magic tricks as his contribution to their team. It’s a bit fantastical, but it’s fast paced and fun. I can dig it.
We sat down with Creator/Executive Producer Chris Fedak ( Legends of Tomorrow, Forever, & Chuck ) and Co-Producer David Kwong (Blindspot, Now You See Me) for a screening of the first episode of Deception, followed by a round of rapid fire questions and one of the most amazing displays of magic up close that I’ve experienced in a good while. All I can say is a dollar, some scrabble letters, a deck of cards, and a kiwi (fruit not person) was involved and I was a magician’s assistant. I’m going to put that on my resume. You think I kid, I’m serious putting it on linkedin – thanks David!
Chris gets started right away with his introduction, and gets us going.
This is Magician Impossible
CF: If you’re a magician or if you’re an illusionist like Copperfield or David Blaine, it’s like you have a team, and I love shows about teams and I love shows about teams because they’re shows about family, in a way. And so for me that was a great opportunity to kind of think about like I hadn’t seen a show about a group of people putting together deceptions like this, and I thought that could be cool. And then the other part of it that I liked is that I thought, this is Magician Impossible. What we’re going to be doing every week is essentially an action show with mystery and deceptions and all that cool stuff.
But instead of it being every episode has to end with a gun fight or a big fight, instead every episode would have a big deception at the heart of it. So I’m glad you guys are here, we’re excited to talk about it. And the neatest thing for me too was, at the beginning, I got to sit down with this guy. So if you ever really wonder how magic works, and he’s not going to tell you he’s not going to give away any of his secrets, because he doesn’t even give me that much. But it’s like I got to watch every favorite, all my favorite illusions all my favorite specials when I was a kid and David and I would go through them.
We’d talk about it, and that’s how very much this started in an office, with us both looking at YouTube
Did Jack Cutmore-Scott (Cameron Black) have to be trained in magic?
DK: Well we got very lucky that Jack Cutmore-Scott is very dexterous and loves magic. And he didn’t have the skills already but he worked very-very hard and continues to work with me and our New York magician Francis Menotti, and he’s always got a deck of cards on him, just like your son, he’s always got a pocketful of coins. And his girlfriend is really annoyed because he’s always practicing. And it becomes an obsession, it’s like a practice hobby, you just keep at it and keep at it, I mean he’s great.
CF: It was crazy, it was like when we cast the show, we always assumed, it would be, oh we’ll just do this and that, or we’ll hire, we’ll have David’s hands doing all the magic. But then as we got closer and we cast Jack and we were lucky to get him, it’s like we had charming, [and] we had handsome. And the thing is that he’s also an obsessive. So as we were walking around the production offices in New York getting ready for the shoot, I’d see Jack working on a trick, and I just thought, I’ll just tell him we’ll just do the viz effects. And it’s like that’s not okay for him, he is a perfectionist.
And he would be out there, again there’s a scene from the hangar. And it was twenty degrees that day and so like everybody is wearing their regular outfits, but like off camera we’re all in giant space suits because it’s so cold. And so Jack was doing a trick and he does it on-screen, but I asked Francis our New York Magician, I said, how hard is this trick right now and he’s just like, it’s impossible, that’s a brick, it’s like that’s how cold it is. But Jack is that passionate. So
it’s like it was wonderful. We had a person who could learn the magic and every once in a while, it’s like, I’ll hear the magicians going, how does he learn this so fast?! It’s supposed to take ten thousand hours it’s like…
DK: He’s getting too good too fast, yes.
How were the elements of the show decided & are they worried about comparisons?
CF: I really wanted to make a fun network show, I wanted to make a show that was like you’re going to sit down, and I’m going to entertain you, and this is going to be the most fun you could possibly have. And that’s where this show comes from, it was designed to be a network TV show and that’s why ABC was the perfect home for it. But to what you’re saying, for me, I love when shows take other shows and you sort of mush them together and you get something special out of that, so there’s definitely elements of this show that have a bit of Castle, Elementary or Sherlock.
I’d love for those comparisons [to be highlighted] and essentially that’s a big part of Deception because that’s what I watch. But the other thing too is I also like romance and I like comedy. And since this is ABC, it’s like I want those elements to be a part of the show too. My cast is wonderful. And so we want to have this be a much more emotional cop show with bad guys than even I knew I was going to have.
Once we met the cast, it’s like this is going to be great. So there’s a bunch of that emotional stuff that you might see in a sitcom or on a half hour comedy. And so yeah so it’s definitely a mashup. But it’s an action show, I grew up on action shows, I grew up on A-Team I grew up on essentially shows where we blow stuff up.
So it won’t always be like catching the murderer of the week, you know, we’ll do different types of episodes, we’re going to do hostage situations, bomb threats, all these different types of things and we’re always going to try to solve them in our own unique way. Because as a writer, what’s amazing working with David is that magicians come at everything from a different perspective. They come at it from almost an engineering perspective. So there’s so many times when I’m working on an action sequence, and I know how to do it because I’ve done it before or like I have a twist on it or a joke or something along those lines.
But what David brings to it is well no-no-no we can do it a totally different way. So in our third episode, we have – it’s going to be crazy – but we actually use mirrors to break into a place and it totally works, like we shot it on the day and the writer was like videotaping it and going, this is working. So that’s the exciting thing for me is to have those ideas that David brings to it and it makes it unique.
Is Cutmore-Scott actually doing the illusions, or is it a series of camera tricks?
DK: We try to do it as real as possible. When you’re making a show, you’re always up against time constraints, so occasionally we have to zhoosh something. But it was important for all of us to make it- to make them all tricks that could be possible, that I could actually do. So it’s all real sleight of hand. Jack’s doing almost all of it himself. That opening, that opening trick-that’s, that’s a one-take of him shooting cards and catching them, he’s really doing that whole thing.
[Magicians are] an interesting group. But we’re also very respectful of magicians, so we have to be able to walk a very fine line like you’ll learn a lot about magic and the theories of magic and deception and illusion, but we’re not going to ruin tricks. So sometimes if something specific comes up and you see me pausing like this, it’s my- magicians censors setting in. But for the most part, we really do the give you that kind of behind the scenes perspective.
Will magicians feel threatened watching this?
DK: We we don’t know at large, but we were very careful and my partner in crime and I, we would show our friends and call people up and run things by
them. And it’s these are people build their careers on these trade secrets, so we had to be very-very careful to stay away from anything that would ruin anyone’s magic show. So there’s a couple of rules. If something is a hundred years old, and no one is doing that anymore, you can usually put that on screen.
That’s an important caveat. If someone has resurrected something from a hundred years ago and they’re now doing it and they’re making a career out of it, like leave it alone. The other fun thing is if we just come up with it on the spot and we invent our own new method, new trick, we can put that on screen, because it’s our own thing. As Chris said, it’s all about engineering.
We we don’t know at large, but we were very careful and my partner in crime and I, very-very careful to stay away from anything that would ruin anyone’s magic show. So there’s a couple of rules. If something is a hundred years old, and no one is doing that anymore, you can usually put that on screen.
I personally think that a little peek behind the curtain is good, I think it helps people like magic a little more, it intrigues you
Who is the mystery woman?
CF: Yeah we’ll have writers in the room going, how do you do it? And then also for the magicians too it’s like sometimes it’s like how far ahead are they than you. And David being a magician will watch stuff and want to know how it’s done. But there’s always that kind of like, you know, it’s like that’s the cool thing about the show too is that the mystery woman, and we do call her from the mystery woman, for most of the season or M W.
She really is an illusionist in her own right. And so it’s fun to kind of watch them duel. Because Cameron [Cutmore-Scott] wants to figure it out and the fact that she’s one step ahead, always a little bit smarter,that drives him nuts. So it’s a fun duel and it’s about smarts, it’s about how quick you are in a way, now I’m slow, so I’m always like one step behind. And since I’m writing I know and wish I wasn’t, if I was out in the audience, I would be the one that wouldn’t figure it out but still I kind of like that.
Deception premieres tonight on ABC at 10|9 c right after American Idol. Check out this trailer!