Project Alpha movie on the way!

Whoa! This is news to me.

Barry Sonnenfeld to Direct Film About Famous Hoax – Hollywood Reporter.

Steve Shaw, Michael Edwards, James Randi of Project Alpha

Steve Shaw, Michael Edwards, James Randi of Project Alpha

Barry Sonnenfeld has signed on to direct a film based on James “The Amazing” Randi’s Project Alpha, a real-life hoax that is explored in the documentary feature An Honest Liar.

Project Alpha was a hoax orchestrated by Randi and two fake psychics, Steve Shaw (now known as Banachek) and Michael Edwards. Banachek and Edwards 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 project, which began in 1979, lasted over two years until the hoax was revealed publicly in Discover magazine.

I just met Mike Edwards this past weekend at a Skeptical Classroom event. Both he and Banachek are super nice guys and I’ll be interested to see how this movie plays out. I can guarantee that the small remaining parapsychological community will not be happy about this. Randi had alerted the psychic researchers from the McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research to watch out for fraud. They ignored him and were duped. This highlighted the poor controls on such experiments. When stricter controls are used in psi experiments, the abilities diminish or stop completely. Surprise.

The kids who successfully pulled one over on the researchers became a Phoenix businessman who still promotes the value of skepticism (Mike), and one of the world’s greatest magicians, Banachek, who develops stage magic for the likes of Criss Angel and Penn and Teller. He remains part of the James Randi Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge team.

 

Make sure you catch An Honest Liar in theaters NOW.

Tip: Mrs. Doctor Atlantis

  18 comments for “Project Alpha movie on the way!

  1. Bob
    March 12, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    Who would your cast be? 🙂

  2. Chris
    March 12, 2015 at 8:05 PM

    According to his IMDB page he was the executive producer for The Honest Liar.

    When I went to TAM 9 (my first and only time, 🙁 ) Randi, Banechek and Edwards gave a presentation on Project Alpha. All the time I was watching it I kept thinking “this would make a good movie.”

  3. mochuck
    March 13, 2015 at 5:45 AM

    My first question too. Who would play Randi?

  4. skeptictmac57
    March 13, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    Tom Cruise

  5. One Eyed Jack
    March 13, 2015 at 1:46 PM

    Ian McKellen or Donald Sutherland.

  6. skeptictmac57
    March 13, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    Even though I was sorta kidding about Tom Cruise, consider this:

    They have similar noses
    They have similar eyebrows
    Cruise is short
    Cruise is the same age now that Randi was in 1979 (the time frame of the project)
    Cruise has experience playing a bald character, and is after all a reasonably good actor who can play against type
    Cruise’s star power would be a tremendous boost for a type of film that most people wouldn’t see
    And how great would it be to see someone as credulous as Cruise end up playing a skeptical activist?
    I rest my case

  7. March 13, 2015 at 5:17 PM

    OH. My. I don’t think Mr. Randi would appreciate that, though.

  8. March 13, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    Such awesome news!

    I want a really great actor who can bring a lot of gravitas, so I vote for Kenneth Branagh. It needs to be someone who can look in their early fifties. Filmmakers have ways to work around height.

  9. skeptictmac57
    March 13, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    Ha! You know him better than I do Sharon, but he does have kind of a wry sense of humor, and might appreciate the irony…not to mention having a handsome leading actor portray him.
    See what he thinks, at least it might give him a good laugh 🙂

  10. skeptictmac57
    March 13, 2015 at 6:41 PM

    The first two are pretty good Bo, I have to admit. He could give Tom a run for the money

  11. March 14, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    When I look at Randi’s picture I can imagine Jeff Bridges playing him. Anthony Hopkins as an alternative.

  12. skeptictmac57
    March 14, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    Ok, new suggestion. One of my all time favorites -Paul Giamatti.
    Do a Google image search and see if you agree. He’s too tall, but Hollywood can handle that, naturally bald, looks good in a beard, about the right age for Randi in 1979, an extremely versatile actor, and probably a more affordable choice.
    Discuss

  13. skeptictmac57
    March 14, 2015 at 12:15 PM
  14. March 15, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    Yep, he too would be great.

    This is fun!

  15. Karl
    March 16, 2015 at 3:06 PM

    My great fear is they would Hollywood it up. The Project Alpha kids discover they have REAL powers! Or they go in to bust some psychics but are confronted with a psychic with real powers, can’t bust him/her, and one of them ends up getting pregnant with the spawn of satan. To wit, the old trope “And the skeptic learned a very important lesson about faith that day.”

  16. Tony
    March 16, 2015 at 9:11 PM

    I’ve long thought that Randi’s fellow magi Eugene Burger would be perfect casting as Randi in a bio pic. Mr. Burger is not only a terrific magician, but he’s already got the beard. The only problem would be that he’s a bit on the new age spiritualist side.

    http://www.austincollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Magic-EB.jpg

  17. Tony
    March 16, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    I can’t think of a better choice for directing a film about the Amazing Randi than the very creative Barry Sonnenfeld. I’ve been a fan of his since he was cinematographer of the Coen brothers’ “Raising Arizona,” and finding out he was an executive producer of “An Honest Liar” makes me like him even more.

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