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In the Works: Barry Sonnenfeld’s New Project Involves a Magician, Fake Psychics, and a Two-Year Hoax

In the Works: Barry Sonnenfeld's New Project Involves a Magician, Fake Psychics, and a Two-Year Hoax

Director Barry Sonnenfeld (“Get Shorty,” “Men in Black”) has a new project in the works, based on an elaborate 1979 hoax mounted by enigmatic magician and skeptic James “The Amazing” Randi.

Known as “Project Alpha,” the deception employed two fake psychics to fool paranormal researchers into believing they could bend spoons, blow fuses, and move objects inside sealed, transparent containers. Producers Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom recounted the two-year ruse in their documentaryAn Honest Liar.”

The 86-year-old Randi, subject of a fascinating profile in the New York Times Magazine last fall, is known as an illusionist who’s deeply invested in scientific investigations, a “debunker,” as he’s sometimes called, of “everything from fairies to telekinesis.” For his part, Sonnenfeld, who cut his teeth as director of photography on Coen brothers’ classics like “Blood Simple” (1984) and “Miller’s Crossing” (1990), is first slated to direct Kevin Spacey in the man-trapped-inside-the-body-of-a-cat movie “Nine Lives,” currently in pre-production.

“An Honest Liar,” which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, opened in limited theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles on March 6.     

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