Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preparing for Ellen Degeneres Show

Being a special magician guest on Ellen Degeneres was like magic! I'll quickly share the path leading up to my first appearance on her show. By the way, there will be many more!

When they called to see if I was interested in meeting to see if I would meet there standards, I jumped right on the opportunity. I mean, there was nothing to think about. I could care less what was on the calendar because it was going to be moved!  As it turns out, I was going to be in the LA area to attend the Magic Castle a few days later from that first call. I suggested that we meet that Friday. It worked out well. Upon arrival, it was apparent that her offices and studios were quit a bit larger than any other show I've been involved with. The Ellen Show takes up two entire airplane hangers! From the instant I walked in the door, I knew I would be working with people that would be fun, professional and committed. We had fun together instantly. The quick meeting turned into at least an hour of me performing for segment producers and staff. The gut feeling of IF I was going to be on the show transformed to HOW SOON can I be on the show to when will I be on AGAIN. They have seen a lot of magic, but my approach to entertainment fits dead on with what they like it seemed.

I left feeling fairly confident that they found their man but nothing is ever in stone until it's done! They were preparing to head to Orlando and I was going to "hear back" from them in a couple weeks. Two weeks went by and they called saying, "We'd love to have you on next week!"

I prepared a few new tricks for Ellen and packed up to catch my flight. The tricks were closely based on what we agreed I'd do. You'd be amazed on how little control I really have as far as doing any tricks I wanted! Anyhow, they flew me into LA, provided a driver to get me to the Universal Sheraton Hotel at Universal Studios and took care of every professional concern you could possibly have. Again, Ellen has a tight ship and top people working for her. It's no wonder they are so successful with their show. They flew me in a day early due to some juggling of schedules. See, they were heading back to Orlando to film Ellen's show back there and were filming double shows for the next couple days to cover the time during travel. So, I had to be ready for any possible changes. In the end, it all went according to plan. I enjoyed a nice day at Universal Studios, watched a movie and practiced some magic on fun people at the hotel.
Sign on the wall outside my own changing room

The day of the shot was interesting as well. A driver took me over to the studios where I was greeted by the segment producers again. Slade and Chris are the main guys I had been talking too and it sure makes life easy when you really like people! I had my own room waiting for me with drinks, food, DVD, TV, music and more. All sorts of celebrities were walking by because the Ellen Show was taping those extra episodes that day. La Toya Jackson and family, Christian Slater, Helen Hunt, Jennifer Hudson, Vin Diesel, Savannah Robinson, James Marsden to just name a few people walking around that day!

From the "Green Room", I watched rehearsals, dance competitions and an entire episode prior to our own rehearsal and show. So much goes into this show that it would make your head hurt.  When my rehearsal time came up, we mic'd up and headed out to the main Ellen Showroom. We easily went through the tricks and adjusted the patter, length and angles based on cameras and time limits. It's very tough to adjust a trick that you have been mentally focused on for days. I ran with the punches and got ready for makeup. Within thirty minutes I was back at the gate waiting to be announced to enter into the REAL show. After 7 hours of waiting around, the next 30 would be a blink.... and it was.  I waited just around the corner from the steps where guests appear with a segment producer and myself watching a TV feed of the other side. The gave me the cue to head out (but it was obvious because Ellen said "Welcome Rich Ferguson"). I felt so much love from her and her audience that I was immediately in my comfort zone. The entire energy of her company is to bring joy to the world and bring each other UP. No drama, no B.S.
Ellen laughing at my jokes
The first magic trick I did for Ellen was like an animated flip book we all made in junior high instead of listening to the teacher.  The second trick was an effect based around time travel using her signed card. In both cases, her face was priceless! She even looked off camera to her producers and gave a slight shrug as if saying, "What the hell do I do with that? What can I say besides Uh, wow!"  I will never forget the image of her looking at me like she did. That was magic! I was brought back to end the show with a third effect. This is a new mental effect I call Window which is off my newest magic DVD. I used her book to let her find a word. Then the work appeared on a prediction I had already handed her. This time she really lost it. I'm certain that clip will be shown all over as she just didn't know what to do. That was an awesome moment on TV. As the show ended, I got more hugs and love as we talked for a bit while cameras faded out. She already asked me back and said she was completely amazed. The best part of my trip there was having a little time to exchange gratitude with Ellen. As I exited, I was stopped by executives and producers who also shared that it was perfect and they want me back. It doesn't get much better than that!

I'll be sure to post some feedback, stories and video once it goes live. It was a marvelous experience to say the least. The show takes good care of those that take good care of them and it shows.

Thanks for sharing the magic!

E-mail Rich!
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