LOS ANGELES "Crossing Over With John Edward" is a talk show with adifference: The studio audience is live, but the guests are goners.Outta here and into the hereafter.
In other words, dead.
Host Edward is on hand to act as go-between. He's a grownupversion of the boy in "The Sixth Sense," if the melancholy kideventually figured out how to make a career out of making eye contactwith the dearly departed.
The new Sci Fi cable channel series airs at 10 p.m. Sunday throughThursday (with repeats at 3 p.m. the following day).
There aren't any towering insights about the meaning of it all, atleast none that Edward is willing to share. Instead, he crisply leadsNew York audience members and celebrities including Linda Dano andCarmen Electra through heavenly exchanges with late relatives orfriends. (No fireside chats so far; as Edward puts it, he has yet tofield a complaint about the heat.)
The host tells one woman that a man, apparently her late husband,is reaching out to her. She is unnerved when Edward relates detailsof a trip she took to Niagara Falls with the couple's daughter.
"Did you find a feather there? And did you tell your daughter thatwas her daddy?" Edward asks the woman, who nods, weeping.
He can also be blunt.
"Is there a husband or brother for you that's passed?" he asksanother woman in the same episode. "Yes," she replies.
"This has got to be an ex-husband we're talking about, becausehe's removing himself from you," Edward says. "He wants to be knownas the ex; that's how he's coming across."
Edward compares his visions of the dead to daydreams in whichinformation is delivered by sight, sound and feeling. He hasn't beenbriefed, according to the show.
"If someone is into New Age or spiritual programming, they have ashow like ours," said supervising producer Paul Shavelson. "Imaginetrying to sell a show like this a decade ago."
"Anybody who comes to me wants to know that their loved ones areOK after their passing. They want to know they're with them, thatthey see what's going on in their life, that the bond of love isstill there," he said.
"News flash: That's all true," he continued. "However, that can'tbe just what your message is about, because there's no validation ofthat. Anybody can say that. I think that's what skeptics and cynicsattack. I tell people it's gotta be minute detail, not trivia. It'sgonna be specific and lock me into your family."
A Long Island, N.Y. native, Edward, an author (One Last Time) andfrequent radio guest, said he is unconcerned about those who mightdismiss him as a charlatan.
"I learned a long time ago that I can't convince, convert ordefend what I do. Because immediately, as soon as I have to do that,I'm putting myself in a position of saying I have to, and I don't. Ifthey don't have a belief system, it's not up to me to create one forthem."
That's OK. That's why we have television.