Friday, June 22, 2007

Hot Off the Press - Author Defrauded Film Company

This was certainly the right decision

Jury: Author defrauded movie company By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer
26 minutes ago

NEW YORK - A woman who used the alter ego of a nonexistent male prostitute to pen an autobiographical novel defrauded a production company that wanted to make a film about her life, a jury decided Friday.

The Manhattan federal jury awarded the production company $116,500 after deliberating for several hours in the case against San Francisco writer Laura Albert. Antidote International Films Inc. had sued Albert, who went to strange lengths to hide her identity behind her alter ego, a male prostitute named JT LeRoy.

Friends donned wigs and posed as the fictitious LeRoy at book signings. They snookered journalists with a phony back story about a past as an underage male prostitute. Albert even made phone calls to a psychiatrist while posing as the troubled teen, and grabbed the attention of such authors as Tobias Wolff and Dave Eggers, and filmmaker Gus Van Sant.

Although Albert stared straight ahead when the verdict was read, and said she expected the decision, she was quick to condemn it.

"This goes beyond me," Albert said. "Say an artist wants to use a pseudonym for political reasons, for performance art. This is a new, dangerous brave new world we are in."

Antidote and its president, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, said they spent $110,000 working on a film based on "Sarah," a tale of a truck stop prostitute that had been marketed as being based on LeRoy's life.

The jury ordered the $110,000 paid to Antidote, along with $6,500 in punitive damages.

Albert testified that she had been assuming male identities for decades as a coping mechanism for psychological problems brought on by her sexual abuse as a child. To her, she said, LeRoy was real.

Antidote's lawyer, Gregory Curtner, said Albert stepped over a line by signing contracts and obtaining copyrights under the phony name.

Jurors asked Friday to have another look at testimony by Steven Shainberg, who would have directed the film about LeRoy's life. Shainberg testified earlier at trial that when he learned that Albert had authored "Sarah," he thought about a new project called "Sarah Plus," about both Albert and her created alter ego.


Anonymous said...


If someone had told me that Grace Metalious was not really a housewife, I wouldn't have cared. I liked her story. So I don't see the big deal with the "Sarah" tale. Sounds like the production company saw a way to get back the money they'd spent and jumped at the chance.

It's rumored that J. D. Salinger is really the man behind Thomas Pynchon. I don't care what his name is. I don't care what Albert wants to call herself. I'm not looking to sleep with any of them. All I'm looking for is a good tale and well told.

This is another big deal over next to nothing. Unless she can't write, and that's a different story.

We all are looking for a way "in". This just happened to be hers.

Sumner Wilson

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