(Check your local listings)
For the last half-century, James “The Amazing” Randi has entertained millions of people around the world with his remarkable feats of magic, escape, and trickery. But when he saw faith healers, fortunetellers, and psychics using his beloved magician’s tricks to steal money from innocent people and destroy lives, he dedicated his life to exposing frauds, using the wit and style of the great showman that he is. Part detective story, part biography, and a bit of a magic act itself, the award-winning An Honest Liar, directed and produced by Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom, premieres on Independent Lens Monday, March 28, 2016, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (Check local listings) on PBS.
A self-described liar, cheat, and charlatan, Randi embarked on a mission for truth by perpetrating a series of unparalleled investigations and elaborate hoaxes. These grand schemes fooled scientists, the media, and a gullible public, but always with a deeper goal of demonstrating the importance of evidence and the dangers of magical thinking. In one of these acts, he transformed his partner, Jose Alvarez, into a fake guru named “Carlos” to show how easily people can be fooled. His work exposing faith healers won him a prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 1987.
When dealing with a master deceiver, the truth can often be hard to find. A sudden and shocking truth in Randi’s personal life is brought to light when the tale of multiple identities takes an unexpected and potentially devastating turn. And Randi – who spent his life exposing deception – may have either perpetrated another grand hoax or become the victim of a very personal one.
A film about the many faces of deception that’s full of unexpected twists and turns, An Honest Liar is told through interviews with Randi, vintage footage of his countless TV appearances, and interviews with Adam Savage, Penn & Teller, Bill Nye, Uri Geller (who Randi spent years debunking), Alice Cooper, and many others.