Weinsteins Set To Make "Deceitful" Author J.T. LeRoy Biopic

by | March 2, 2006 | Comments

There’s almost a week to go before Asia Argento‘s "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" opens, so it’s perfect timing for The Weinstein Company to announce they’ve optioned the rights to a biopic of fake author J.T. LeRoy.

LeRoy, an HIV-positive boy hustler whose semi-autobiographical short stories and sensational background made him a literary phenom, emerged in the publishing world in 2000, when the popular novel "Sarah" was printed, followed by "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" in 2001. Eventually LeRoy began making public appearances in a wig and sunglasses — an appropriately kooky signature outfit for the eccentric writer, who claimed a history of child abuse, drug use, and prostitution. Media personnel and celebs alike took to LeRoy, leading to Argento‘s screen adaptation, a highly controversial pic studded with enthusiastic stars of young and indie Hollywood.

Although cracks seemed to appear as far back as last year in the LeRoy persona, it wasn’t until the New York Times published an expose last month that the scandal broke wide open. Times writer Warren St. John wrote a series of articles that revealed J.T. LeRoy did not exist; Bay Area writer Laura Albert had dreamed up LeRoy to get publishing attention, and had her then-boyfriend’s sister don the wig and glasses to "play" LeRoy in media appearances all over the world.

Many LeRoy fans were understandably upset at this publishing betrayal; nevertheless, it’s generating quite the buzz for the Palm Pictures release of "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," which opens in New York and Los Angeles on March 10 before expanding to other cities. Click here to see the (redband) trailer.

Directed by Italian actress Asia Argento (Dario‘s daughter, and an accomplished filmmaker in her own right), "Heart" tells the story of a young boy and his troubled, teenage mother as he follows her through the dregs of American society, living through every type of abuse imaginable along the way. The film’s cast evidences the celebrity backers LeRoy had in his/her heyday in 2003, when it was filmed: Asia Argento, Peter Fonda, Michael Pitt, Winona Ryder, Marilyn Manson, Jeremy Renner, Kip Pardue, Jeremy Sisto, and those adorable twins from "Big Daddy," Dylan and Cole Sprouse (now irrevocably damaged at the tender age of 13).

But back to the new news. Per Variety, the flick will be based on writer Warren St. John’s New York Times expose of J.T. LeRoy’s life (or, should we say, fantastically deceitful fake life) and will be helmed by newish director Jesse Peretz, whose credits include 1997’s "First Love, Last Rites," two Foo Fighters videos ("Big Me" and "Learn to Fly"), and who, perhaps most significantly, was the original bass player for the Lemonheads.

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