For Criss, it was about finding the right team, starting with the network. "I chose Spike because Spike, I think, has the right sensibility for where I wanted to go," he explained. "I don't want to do a repeat performance of Mindfreak. I did that. It was the longest running show for magic in the history of television and it's the most watched Internet clip by leaps and bounds out there. And that's a tribute to the unsung heroes that are my team. They help perpetuate all those wonderful things that have happened to me and the brand.
"Spike has a different sensibility and it really spoke out of the same voice of where I wanted to go. Sharon Levy, who is the woman who technically signed me there, we're from Long Island, we're from the same town pretty much, and we just saw eye to eye on what the vision of the show and what I wanted to do," he continued. "She supported it and they've continued to support it. This has to be the number one most focused show for the network. The marketing that they're doing - the dollars that they're spending - is really unprecedented. I'm honored and flattered and want to make sure that we come out and it's just a killer series."
He also took it upon himself to refine and improve what he was bringing to the table. "With this show, I have a 60,000 square foot warehouse that we fabricate, we stage, we edit, we shoot, we do everything," he told us. "I'm able to do things at a level that I could never do in the past. It's much more sophisticated and it's just at a whole other level, as far as the magic. I feel pretty confident that this is without a question my best work, and it's something that has never been seen in the world of magic on television as far as a series, and there's demonstrations that no one has ever seen before."
You can check out a teaser for the series below.
BeLIEve has stacked the proverbial deck, relying on Criss's remarkable ability to make magic universally accessible. There are the major demonstrations that will appeal to those looking to be stunned, but also smaller illusions for those whose interest might run a little more low-key. And both fans of magic and those who have never seen a magic trick in their lives will be able to connect with the series, as it gives audiences a glimpse into the process of what it takes to be a world-class illusionist, with explanations along the way. It's not just about astounding you, though it certainly will do that; it's also about helping you grasp what you can't believe you just saw.
That includes more than just how the demonstration is done. It also means how many people have to work together to make it happen, from Criss's inner circle to the crew you'll never see on screen. "There's a lot of them quite honestly," Criss told us. "Here in the live show BeLIEve, we have over sixty people that work the show, from backstage to onstage with this amazing cast. There's a lot of people that are helping facilitate this spectacular experience that the audience has here.
"On my television side, between the physical crew that works at my warehouse to the television team to the editors, there's probably another sixty people working there," he continued. "I'm one person and no one man wins a war. It takes an army. And I really feel blessed to have the very best army in magic for live performance as well as television. I think that's really another reason why I've been so fortunate to have the success I have, because I've been able to surround myself with really insanely talented people."