Director Barry Sonnenfeld's next film project will be a feature adaptation of author, magician and professional debunker James "The Amazing" Randi's Project Alpha, a four-year hoax begun in 1979 that enlisted false psychics posing as actual purveyors of the paranormal arts to fool the scientific community. This elaborate ruse was one of the many miraculous subjects covered in the acclaimed 2014 Randi documentary An Honest Liar, directed by Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom.
For nearly five decades, The Amazing Randi has been an outspoken antagonist of unscrupulous persons who prey on the bereaved or claim paranormal powers. The 86-year-old psychic expert, magic historian and self-proclaimed liar has appeared on Johnny Carson and David Letterman many times over the years to discuss his latest cause or debunk guests claiming to possess telekinetic or extrasensory skills, the most notorious of those being charismatic Israeli spoon-bender Uri Geller.
Sonnenfeld saw the documentary during a screening at last year's Telluride Mountainfilm and immediately saw the potential for a narrative film adaptation starring The Amazing Randi as the devious puppetmaster behind the fascinating story of deception. Project Alpha enlisted the acting talents of phoney psychics Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards, who participated in a paranormal research project orchestrated by Randi. The pair were paraded around the country being tested and examined under close scrutiny, performing astonishing feats of blowing fuses, bending spoons, moving objects in sealed containers and impossible mentalism effects. The scam was eventually revealed in 1983 in a public press conference at the offices of Discover Magazine.
Here's a video from the James Randi Foundation bringing you up to speed on this incredible true story of the Alpha Kids:
This intriguing fake psychics project of Sonnenfeld's is currently in development, and no casting info is yet available. Does this wild slice of history stimulate your senses?