November 20, 2003
C for Comeback

F-for-fake.jpgGood news, Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass! If you wait long enough for the whole plagiarizing and fabricating thing to blow over (like, say 30 years), you'll be able to continue your brilliant careers. Right now you might not be able to eat lunch in this town, but lay low for a while and you'll be the toast of tinsel town just like Clifford Irving.

Clifford Irving? Who dat? Irving, a once promising writer, was at the center of the fake Howard Hughes biography scandal in the early 70s. After it was revealed he lied about being authorized to write the billionaire mogul's autobiography by the recluse himself, Irving was forced to return his $765,000 advance to McGraw Hill and spent some 14 months in prison for fraud. (The whole story is amusingly told by Orson Welles in F for Fake, an amazing—and amazingly weird—movie whose title amazingly never once came up during the Jayson Blair scandal.) Here's what Irving told 60 Minutes II when he looked back on his 15 minutes of infamy in 2000: "I was lying to everybody... I was on a train of lies. I couldn't jump off." (Gee, sounds like some other guys.)

Anyway, Irving reemerged as a fiction writer and one of his novels, Tom Mix and Pancho Villa (from 1982) has just been optioned with the screenplay to be written by classy A-list scripter Steven Zaillian. Of course, the movie sounds like a steaming turd, but that's beside the point. What was the point again? Oh, yeah. Hang in there Jayson and Stephen: redemption will be yours in a few decades.

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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