LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A controversial television seance airing on Monday will claim it has reached the spirit of John Lennon, but viewers will have to pay $9.95 to find out what the peace-loving Beatle has to say.
The special, being carried on pay-TV service In Demand, was organized by the producers of a 2003 attempt to channel the late Princess Diana. That show failed to find Diana and received reviews that could have sunk the Titanic but it is estimated to have grossed close to $8 million. (ching ching!)
Sight unseen, the Lennon effort has been attacked by the late Beatle's friends and fans as a tasteless effort to profit from his assassination 25 years ago. But producers say they are hoping to lure an audience that now loves such prime-time network TV shows as "Ghost Whisperer" and "Medium."
The program features what is described as an Electronic Voice Phenomenon, or EVP, that a psychic on the show claims is the disembodied voice of Lennon speaking at a seance in one of his favorite New York restaurants, La Fortuna.
EVP is based on a belief that spirit voices communicate through radio and TV broadcast signals.
On the television show, filming at La Fortuna suddenly stops and a narrator says something odd has happened. They then claim that a mysterious voice can be heard on the voice feed of one of the psychics.
The producers then call in "EVP specialist" Sandra Belanger to examine the voice and she proclaims it the real deal.
"That's very consistent with a Class A EVP," she said, regarding the level and clarity of the voice. She also says the voice sounds like how Lennon would have talked.
Reuters was given a preview of the program, "The Spirit of John Lennon," on condition that it not reveal what the "voice" said during the taped seance.
Producer Paul Sharratt, who heads Starcast Productions and who calls himself a skeptic, said hearing the voice has made him a believer.
"The Spirit of John Lennon" is being done without the knowledge or consent of Lennon's estate or his widow Yoko Ono, who declined comment. Her longtime friend and spokesman Elliot Mintz has called the entire exercise "tacky, exploitative and far removed" from the icon's way of life.
"A pay-per-view seance was never his style," said Mintz.
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