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NBC planning Uri Geller/Criss Angel 'Phenomenon' reality competition

By Christopher Rocchio, 07/17/2007 

NBC has announced that it has inked a deal for Phenomenon, the working title for a "live" reality competition series that will feature controversial alleged mentalist Uri Geller and Criss Angel Mindfreak illusionist Criss Angel conducting a search for "the next great mentalist."

"The match-up of two world-famous personalities, Uri Geller and Criss Angel -- who have demonstrated astounding skills -- makes for a riveting series format," said Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. "Factor in the mystery of the genre, the live competitive angle as the contestants attempt to follow in Criss and Uri's footsteps, and incredible interactive applications, and we think viewers will have many compelling reasons to watch."

Phenomenon is based on a popular Israeli reality competition series called The Successor, which premiered earlier this year.  Geller served as a judge and mentor for the Israeli show, and the NBC adaptation will follow a similar format, with 10 contestants having their "mystifying talents" tested through a series of weekly challenges in-front of a panel of celebrity guest judges and a studio audience. 

Geller and Angel will also assist the Phenomenon contestants and provide their insight, with the competition's winner ultimately determined by home-viewer voting.

A&E Network premiered Mindfreak in July 2005 and has since aired two more seasons of the reality series, which follows the 39-year-old Angel as he performs everything from stunts to illusions. 

Angel has also recently made headlines for personal reasons, as his estranged wife Joanne Sarantakos filed for divorce from her husband of five years 14 months ago, alleging their marriage "broke down" after he became famous following Mindfreak's debut because he kept her as a "secret."  Angel has since responded that his estranged wife's claims are "preposterous and inaccurate."

Phenomenon is a co-production of Granada America, Keshet Broadcasting, and Kuperman Productions in association with SevenOne International, which  controls the worldwide rights to the show's format.

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