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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Magic act flops in Brazil court
US magician Leonard Montano
Livelihoods vanished after Mr M gave away magic secrets

Magicians claiming they nearly went broke after a television programme aired the secrets of their trade have won a legal fight against Brazil's largest television network.

TV Globo must pay damages to 21 magicians in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul because of a programme that revealed how magicians perform such tricks as pulling rabbits out of hats and sawing women in half, a judge has ruled.

The show featured Leonard Montano, a US magician known as Mister M who always hid his identity with a mask and was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

"Mister M took all the magic out of magic," said Paulo Roberto Brito Martins, one of the magicians who sued.

"It was like depriving a child of happiness and the right to fantasise when you tell him Santa Claus does not exist."

Mr Martins, whose has performed as Uncle Tony the Magician for 30 years, estimated he had lost 1.5 million reals ($518,000) since 1999 because many people lost interest in magic after learning how the tricks were performed.

No quick pay out

He said his show on a local television station had been dropped, many clients stopped contracting him for shows at parties, and business slumped at his magic store in Porto Alegre, a city 875 kilometres (540 miles) south of Sao Paulo.

Globo TV was ordered to pay an amount equal to the income each magician lost since early 1999, when it first aired Mister M segments on its weekly Fantastico show, said a court official.

Mr Martins estimates Porto Alegre magicians lost 60-70% of their income because of the show.

He is not banking on a quick payout from the judgment because it will take time to calculate the losses, and because an appeal is anticipated.

"But we have won the first battle," he said.




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