Barry Sonnenfeld to Direct “Fake Psychics” Film Based on a True Story

     March 12, 2015

barry-sonnenfeld-james-the-amazing-randi-movie

Filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld is looking to tap into real life for an upcoming feature. It was announced today that he will direct a feature adaptation based on James ‘The Amazing’ Randi’s Project Alpha, a real-life deception that was chronicled in the documentary An Honest Liar. With Project Alpha, Randi enlisted two fake psychics and fooled researchers for two years, making them think the duo had legitimate psychic powers such as spoon bending and moving objects in a sealed transparent container.

The project is currently in development so it could be some time before it comes to fruition, but Sonnenfeld is enthusiastic about the material saying, “Not only did I love An Honest Liar, but I knew there was an excellent narrative film to be made out of this story, with James Randi playing the ‘behind the curtain’ puppeteer.”

barry-sonnenfeld-james-the-amazing-randi-movie

Image via Columbia Pictures.

Sonnenfeld’s last film was Men in Black 3, but he’s currently in pre-production on the upcoming Nine Lives, which will star Kevin Spacey. Read the full press release concerning his An Honest Liar adaptation below:

New York, New York, March 12, 2015—Barry Sonnenfeld has signed on to direct a feature adaptation based on James ‘The Amazing’ Randi’s PROJECT ALPHA, a real-life deception told in the feature documentary AN HONEST LIAR. The project is currently in development. This announcement comes on the heels of a successful theatrical premiere of Justin Weinstein’s and Tyler Measom’s AN HONEST LIAR, a documentary based on the life of James ‘The Amazing’ Randi.

 

PROJECT ALPHA was an elaborate ruse orchestrated by James ‘The Amazing’ Randi together with two fake psychics, Steve Shaw (now known as Banachek) and Michael Edwards. Banachek and Edwards auditioned for and then participated in a paranormal research project led by researchers who believed that the pair had legitimate psychic powers and had no idea that they were being duped. The testing of the two “psychics” included spoon bending, blowing fuses and moving objects in a sealed transparent container.  Beginning in 1979, the project lasted over two years until the hoax was revealed publicly in a press conference held at Discover Magazine.

“I sought out Justin and Tyler immediately after I watched An Honest Liar at Telluride Mountainfilm”, says Sonnenfeld. “Not only did I love An Honest Liar, but I knew there was an excellent narrative film to be made out of this story, with James Randi playing the ‘behind the curtain’ puppeteer”.

 

Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Get Shorty) is currently in pre-production as the helmer on the Kevin Spacey vehicle Nine Lives. 

 

“The true tale of Project Alpha is one of twists, deceptions and comedy and Barry is the ideal director for the project,” say Measom and Weinstein, who will join the film as producers.  “We are excited to work with him to bring his vision to the screen.”

 

The feature documentary AN HONEST LIAR was released by Richard Abramowitz’s Abramorama. The highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning documentary from Directors Justin Weinstein (writer, editorBeing Elmo) and Tyler Measom (Sons of Perdition) and Producer Stephanie Levy entered theaters after a very successful film festival circuit tour following its World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, 2014.

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