Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) will be directing a movie based on the true events of Project Alpha, an elaborate hoax that took place in the late ’70s and early ’80s that fooled a team of scientists and researchers for over two years. The Project Alpha story was previously featured in An Honest Liar, a documentary about the scientific skeptic James Randi that screened at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Project Alpha was originally carried out by Randi, formerly known as the stage magician “The Amazing Randi,” along with two fake psychics, Steve Shaw (aka Banachek) and Michael Edwards, who spent two years fooling a team of researchers into believing they truly were psychics. Experiments included fuse blowing, spoon bending, and moving objects within sealed containers. The experiments were carried out at Washington University in St. Louis and were led by physicist Peter Phillips from 1979 to 1981, when the hoax was revealed publicly at a press conference for Discover magazine.
Sonnenfeld reportedly sought out the filmmakers of An Honest Liar because he was fascinated by the character of Randi and his role in the elaborate hoax. The documentary’s directors, Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein, are producing Project Alpha.
There’s no word yet on when production will start or on a release date.