Magicians spellbound over Fox

Fox has stirred up a hornets’ nest of controversy with its promotion of tonight’s primetime special, “Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Revealed.” It promises to lift the curtain on the long-concealed mysteries of how magicians perform levitation, make elephants disappear and escape unharmed from an exploded box, among other tricks.

As soon as the network posted a press release about the special on the Fox Web site, hundreds of angry e-mail missives poured in from magicians and fans, alike, who didn’t much appreciate the idea of a “Masked Magician” busting the ages-old code of silence.

At the very least, it could inspire the Fox special sequel, “When Magicians Attack.”

But Lance Burton, who is featured prominently in the Wednesday-night NBC special “The World’s Greatest Magic IV,” isn’t terribly worried about having his livelihood squelched by Fox.

“The problem with trying to make entertainment of showing how tricks are done is that it’s not very entertaining,” Burton said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, people see the secret and say, ‘Is that it?’ ”

Then again, you would think that, as a master of prestidigitation and illusion, Burton could simply make the Fox special disappear.

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