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David Poland

By David Poland

Happy Friday Night

Hello all –
I’ll try to get the numbers up here at a reasonable hour on Saturday, but if not, chat here.
Today’s Sundance screenings included the very pleasant and soon to be very marketed Wordplay, the mediocre but Chiwetel Olijofor driven Kinky Boots, and the overrated mediocrity that is A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints.
The end of Revolution Studios is old, old news, so it’s hard for me to pretend that I didn’t announce it a year ago and notice that it was a lock the day that Patrick Goldstein wrote a love letter to Joe Roth’s artistic intentions. Is anyone actually surprised?
James Frey should never have lied about his process to Oprah… but the book is so great, do I really need to give a damn? It’s not like someone lied in the pages of the New York Times or something? (To give credit where credit is due, the NYT front page story today included a TV Review that was pretty reasonable.)
Ok… time for bed…

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27 Responses to “Happy Friday Night”

  1. EDouglas says:

    Yeah, I don’t understand why everyone is making such a big deal about the fact that parts of the book were made up. Doesn’t that just make him a better writer, the fact that he knows how to tell a good story? The Oprah show where she reprimanded him was uncalled for in my opinion, and it just made her look worse.
    I remember a few years ago, there was this comic book writer doing a book about some sort of military based superteam, and it was a really original book, too, but he also had written a few regular books under the presumption that he was a former Marine (or something like that) and it turned out to not be true, so he ended up getting fired from the comic book, they cancelled the collection they were going to release, and he was being attacked all over the place. Hasn’t seen hide or hair of him since. Sure, the guy lied, but he was still a good writer… does he deserve that kind of treatment? It was kind of disappointing for someone who really enjoyed reasing his work.

  2. waterbucket says:

    All I can say is:
    Dave Poland, Jack Nasty loves you!

  3. Wrecktum says:

    Frey’s in trouble because he claimed that every word in the book is true. Which was apparently a false statement.
    It’s as simple as that.

  4. jsnpritchett says:

    I think Klady’s numbers for Friday may be off. He’s reporting that Big Momma’s House 2 did $7.7 million. That’s what the original made in its opening day. and are saying that the sequel made $8.4 yesterday.

  5. PetalumaFilms says:

    Man, I totally LOVED “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.” I saw it at a 9 a.m. press screening and was fully prepared to hate it after the first 10 mins. However I loved it…and not in a Sundance way. (FYI…the Sundance way is when you get taken in by a movie there and think it’s amazing and then see it again and realize you were drunk, starving, exhausted or all three. Examples for many include “Happy, TX.,” “Spitfire Grill” and many, many others).
    I also genuinely loved THE DARWIN AWARDS but I realize it has flaws. Serious flaws.

  6. frankbooth says:

    Dave’s Judith Miller joke clearly proves him to be part of the Librul Media/Al Qaeda axis of evil. Why, oh why, does he hate America?
    As for Frey, I don’t know if his writing is any good. I’ve read reviews both pro and con, and the excerpts don’t encourage me. But he should have presented the book as a roman a clef, which would have allowed space for artistic embellishment. Why didn’t he? My understanding of the recovery process is that it requires honesty above all things.
    I also wonder what makes his story worth 400 pages of text, when variations of it are told every day in AA and NA meeting rooms around the world, minus the pretension and fabrications.

  7. Angelus21 says:

    Did anyone think Frey’s book was real to begin with? Does it really matter? I read it when it first came out and thought it was sophomoric. Not a real literary talent here. But now he’s famous and rich and notorious. It worked out for him. All he needed to do was put a disclaimer in the beginning.

  8. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Frey sumbitted is as a novel and got rejected. Then he submitted it as non-fiction and got published. The person who should be hauled over the coals is Talese who absolutely knew he was lying and still didn’t want to put a disclaimer in the front. The discussion this has provoked has been well worth it, from all accounts there is very little validation done to memoirs. Its just accepted as a given that the authors recollection can sometimes be hazy. Maybe not as hazy as Frey’s but still a little blurry.

  9. qwiggles says:

    Frey’s a funny fish.
    Anyone catch the interview he did for Salon a few years back?
    Some choice cuts:
    “A book that I thought was mediocre was being hailed as the best book written by the best writer of my generation. Fuck that. And fuck him and fuck anybody who says that. I don’t give a fuck what they think about me. I’m going to try to write the best book of my generation and I’m going to try to be the best writer.”
    Yeah! Fuck, hell, fuck!
    Or my personal favorite,
    “…I like pit bulls. And N.W.A. And I love boxing. Writers aren’t like that anymore. They’re all these guys who have fucking master’s degrees and are so ‘sophisticated’ and ‘educated’ and … well, I’m not a guy with a master’s degree … I can write big fat books, but I’m not an effete little guy.”
    He sure looked pretty small to me, getting his dignity sliced and diced by angry Mamma Oprah. Plus, what I’ve read of his book reads a bit like,
    Hate the world.
    Want to smother it with a Blanket,
    Feel the Rage, in the Belly, in the Soul. It consumes me, I Fight it. It Becomes me.
    Tooth bleeding.
    Ragged claw, Punched jaw.
    Pushed to the hospital. Wheeled in my Chair.
    I want to Violate, Explicate, Consummate…”
    And so on.
    When a self-proclaimed “voice of his generation” who writes like that claims to be prophesying, speaking “emotional truth” and literal truth both, by writing a memoir, he deserves all the bile that’s coming to him for making a large part of it up in a way that wouldn’t be seen as compelling enough to publish if it were sold as fiction.

  10. joefitz84 says:

    Talese realized the money potential. And he was right on. Oprah got used and now she’s crying about it? She should have been more vigilant. Did she even read it?

  11. grandcosmo says:

    Frey didn’t just embellish his story, it was almost completely untrue.
    I don’t understand people who say it doesn’t matter that the story is untrue. If you found out that Morgan Spurlock, A) didn’t eat McDonalds for a month and B) was wearing a fat suit in “Supersize Me” wouldn’t that affect what you thought about the movie? Or is the truth just irrelevant now?

  12. MattM says:

    The interesting questions from the box office figures to me are:
    1. Will “Nanny McPhee” get a Friday-Saturday bump for a kids film, or is it too upmarket for its own good in that sense?
    2. How big a drop are we looking at Fri-Sat for “Big Momma 2?”
    3. What does “Big Momma” mean for “Madea’s Family Reunion?”
    4. Based on last night’s attendance, “Imagine Me and You” could wind up being a sleeper hit.
    5. Looks like Brokeback has hit its wall on expansion.

  13. Pat H. says:

    >>>Oprah got used and now she’s crying about it? She should have been more vigilant.
    Thats a pretty ridiculous statement. The book was published by a major publishing house and edited and published by one of the biggest names in the business. Is Oprah or any one you reads the book responsible for going out and independently verifying the facts of the book?

  14. joefitz84 says:

    She chose the book as part of a book club. A book club where she is the only person who selects the books and a book club that is widley read by millions of people. People who rely on her. She has a responsibility. For better or worse. She was duped. As she said the other day to Frey on her show. She know she has a responsibility to millions of people.

  15. Josh says:

    I really don’t care if Frey embellished or whatever. I didn’t read it for facts. You had to assume he lied about half of it.

  16. Geoff Gresh says:

    I can’t help but feel that all this “controversy” will only encourage more people to pick up Frey’s book and future publishers (and very likely film studios) to up the asking price for the rights to Frey’s next novel/memoir/amalgam. I know that I had almost no interest in the book until I learned that it was a fabrication. Maybe it’s the subersive trickster in me, but I kind of admire that Frey convincingly constructed a story that so many people admired for it’s gritty realism and truth. His book wasn’t a diatribe on the ills of fast food culture or an investigation into the politics of the current administration. It was a personal “memoir”, a work in a genre so used to exaggeration that it should be duct-taped to the shelf in between the fiction and non-fiction books (thanks to The Colbert Report for that one). We all create our public selves and few of us are able to keep the ratio between lies and truth in the balance we might want to. I’m sure that more than one person at Frey’s publishing company knew that the book was largely a lie and I’m sure that there were many many meetings to decide whether or not the book would be more marketable as memoir or novel. It’s also highly probable that Frey and his publisher discussed the inevitability of the truth about the book getting out. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided that that particular eventuality could be even better for sales than just coming clean from the beginning. I won’t repeat the cliche about bad publicity, but come on, there are thousands of writers out there that would give up limbs to get the exposure Frey’s been getting over the last few weeks. Now we can probably get ready to see a stream of output from Frey: the book about why and how he did it, the film adaptation of A Million Little pieces, the film adaptation of the book about why and how he did it, and finally maybe a real novel that will have the conviction of A Million Little Pieces without the overhanging cloud of skepticism.
    If anything, I think the only mistake Frey and his publishers made was not fessing up right after The Smoking Gun story. The jig was up at that point and he was just painting himself into a corner.
    Well, there’s one other mistake: the lack of freaking tabs before each paragraph in the book. Yeah, yeah, I know, stylistic choice, but it made my eyes hurt.

  17. JBM... says:

    Don’t anybody forget that Frey co-wrote Kissing a Fool. Damnation, I say!

  18. Pat H. says:

    >>>>>I really don’t care if Frey embellished or whatever. I didn’t read it for facts.< Then what the hell did you read if for? Surely not for the prose which was pretty bad. The book is only worth reading if you believe that the author actually experienced the things he described and then overcame them.

  19. Rufus Masters says:

    The sales are going higher with the more controversy. It has gone up the past week. Him and his publishers are laughing all the way to the bank. This isn’t the fake Hughes biography here.

  20. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Oprah and her beloved Book Club just took another hit.
    Her latest fave rave is “Night” by Elie Wiesel. CNN pushed it as an “autobiographical novel” about the Holocaust. Because of “A Million Little Pieces”, has reclassified the Wiesel book as biography. Barnes & Noble has done the same thing at its stores and website.

  21. Fades To Black says:

    I just have a problem with an artist lying about what he did and how we went about it. It take smost of the shine off. You’re supposed to have some sense of integrity and honesty. He has none now.

  22. joefitz84 says:

    Every book is fiction. Even non fiction writers weren’t there with a recorder making sure every event was exact. Frey’s problem is he represented it as 100% fact. Now he comes off as a lying thief. Not a good rep to have as a writer.

  23. Bruce says:

    Frey wrote “Kissing a Fool”? Really? A movie that saps the energy from Jason Lee stinks in my book.

  24. David Poland says:

    Cosmo… where do you get, “Frey didn’t just embellish his story, it was almost completely untrue.”
    Who has even suggested that?
    And no, I don’t take Super Size Me as serious non-fiction. I don’t really believe that vomiting out the window was a siple natural reaction to eating a meal at McDonald’s… not that he stuck his finger down his throat, but inmy experience with vomit, wanting to is half the battle. I don’t know how bad his liver really was. And even on the surface, it is clear that he didn’t choose to try to eat as well as possible at McDonald’s for 30 days. He made his point. His point is valid. But is it 100% unbiased and truthful? I don’t think so. And it doesn’t much matter. Audiences, film and print, aren’t that dumb. We can make leaps. The biggest story here is that Oprah is embarrassed… and again, that the idiot lied about his process instead of staying mysteriously silent.

  25. James Leer says:

    DP, Frey has made much of his months-long stint in jail, even kicking off his second “memoir” (“My Friend Leonard”) during his 87th day of a three-month jail term — but it’s now come out that, as the Smoking Gun puts it, “the closest Frey has ever come to a jail cell was the few unshackled hours he once spent in a small Ohio police headquarters waiting for a buddy to post $733 cash bond.” So, there’s one big piece that was completely untrue. Not just an exaggeration, but clearly made up out of whole cloth.
    As for “A Million Little Pieces,” The Smoking Gun spells it out much more comprehensively than I could hope to. But the worst element for me was Frey’s appropriation of a terrible car accident that killed two students at his school — an accident that did not involve him in the least bit, but that he ghoulishly inserts himself into for more sympathy.

  26. James Leer says:

    To me, the whole thing reminds me of nothing more than Jesse Eisenberg in “The Squid and the Whale,” who, when confronted with his plagiarism of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You,” says, “I felt I could have written it, so the fact that it was already written was kind of a technicality.” Frey’s actual story — rich, well-liked kid goes to Hazelden — was not dramatic enough, so he invented an outsized macho bluster personality, fake jail time, a sad back story, and made-up characters.

  27. DannyBoy says:

    Hey… “Brokeback’ ended up doing a couple hundred thousand dollars more over the weekend according to the final numbers than it did in the estimated numbers. Cool. Guess it had a big Sunday uptick for some reason. It will be interesting to see what happens this week with it after the nominations come out: Is it “played out” or “just getting started?”

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