Close Up Kings is a street magic meets travelogue series bowing on Discovery’s international networks. The show came about after producer Zig Zag was working on a US pilot for another magic series, Troy (now on Channel 4 in the UK).
The Close Up Kings – Magic Balay, Loki and Johnny Blaze – are a group of street magicians that were working as consultants on the pilot, and the Zig Zag team were so taken with them and their talent they worked up a show for the trio.
The result is Close Up Kings, in which the eponymous performers travel from city to city taking on challenges and attempting to outdo one another.
The show is part magic, part travel series, says Zig Zag COO Kevin Utton. “They go to a different city and the magic they perform reflects the culture, lifestyle and personality of that city, so when they are in New Orleans the inspirations include Southern food, Voodoo and the Mississippi river.”
The relationship between the trio is key to the show, he adds. “There is a great camaraderie an they like to outdo one another – if one pulls a rabbit out of a hat another will pull out two rabbits… and the third one an elephant!”
The magicians travel to a different city in each instalment and destinations include New York, Miami, San Francisco and Toronto.
Discovery took the show for its channels in Europe and the Middle East. In Canada, specialty channel OLN came on board the series. There is also a Canadian coproduction partner in the shape of Toronto-based Yap Films.
Entertainment One has picked up rights for the rest of the world and Close Up Kings will be one of the headline factual titles for the distributor at MIPTV where it will be launched internationally.
Zig Zag is forging a reputation for magic shows with this and Troy as well as a YouTube channel, All Time Magic, and CEO Danny Fenton says there is strong demand from broadcasters. “We’re in a purple patch for magic. Broadcasters are hungry for it and there is a massive appetite among distributors for magic shows. The USP for this show is it follows a group rather than individuals and also the travel elements.”
The show: Close Up Kings
The producers: Zig Zag Productions, Yap Films
The distributor: Entertainment One
The broadcaster: Discovery Channel (international), OLN (Canada)
Concept: Magic series meets travelogue following the Close Up Kings as they journey around North America