Tonight: PBS profiles “Honest Liar” The Amazing Randi

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Usually, a gathering of professional skeptics is commonly referred to as “a newsroom.”

In January, I met a skeptic who made even cranky reporters gathered at the winter TCA press tour look unsuspecting: James “The Amazing” Randi.

The Toronto-born magician was at the TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif., promoting the documentary about his life: “An Honest Liar.” It’s been featured at film festivals and on Netflix and comes to PBS for the first time Monday. March 28.

Now 87, Randi used to dangle off building ledges upside down in straightjackets doing Houdini-like thrill stunts. He carved out a second career in the ’70s as a professional debunker, going on talk shows to expose “mentalists” and conjurers as phonies. His is the classic case of “takes one to know one.”

honest_liar-press-06He went on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show 31 times. Carson was an amateur magician who loved trading card tricks with Randi after each show. Carson was only too happy to let Randi stick a fork in spoon-bending weasels such as Uri Geller.

The magician also went after televangelists, exposing how they used spies in the crowd and earpieces to gain information on suckers before “healing” them.

Read more about The Amazing Randi and “An Honest Liar” here at this feature I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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