Thursday, August 04, 2005

Augusten X. Burroughs' Family Gets Snippy Over Their Film Portrayal

Augusten Burroughs is the kind of interesting guy you'd like to meet in a gay bar. He is funny, period, and cute.

Augusten wrote a hilarious book several years ago, titled, "Running With Scissors." That great book has now been made into a movie and all of a sudden, his "family" is up in arms and is suing Burroughs, who is gay.

Their lawsuit, filed in Massachusetts claims that Burroughs "mercilessly and repeatedly" defamed family members "so as to sensationalize his past to make the book marketable while knowingly causing harm and humiliation" to the Turcotte family, with whom Burroughs lived after his disturbed mother turned guardianship of Augusten over to her pyschiatrist, Dr. Turcotte.

The book came out in 2002. Where have these people been all these years.

The book's publisher, St. Martin's Press, at the insistance of their legal advisors, renamed the characters. Dr. Turcotte became Dr. Finch, who looks like Santa Clause and acts more like Alfred Kinsey. His household is in shambles, a Christmas tree stays up until summer, an electrochock therapy machine is displayed under the stairs, and a pedophile lives in a shed in the back yard who molests the young Augusten. When Augusten doesn't feel like going to school, Dr. Finch helps him fake a suicide. Lots of valium keeps this circus going in all three rings.

The moive version, to be released next year by Sony TriStar, stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Augusten's mother, Annette Bening and ALec Baldwin and Dr. and Mrs. Finch and Vanessa Redgrave as the deranged aunt.

Howard Cooper, the Turcotte's attorney is quoted as saying, "With the forthcoming movie, the family is living in fear that there will be utter devastation to their reputations and the invasion of the privacy will be complete." Hey, they could turn all of this into a reality series. So why all the fuss and fuming?

The suit, in addition to seeking damages for libel, defamation, fraud, invasion of privacy and emotional distress, asks the court to order public retractin and a public statement taht the book is fictional, and requests that distinction be made in all future publishing runs, paperback versions of the book.

When reading fiction or an autobiographical work, there is some fiction in the non-fiction and fact in the fiction. The genres are blurred.

For the sake of interesting reading, I believe that Burroughs used the truth and expanded upon it, plain and simple. This family was a bunch of wild, wide eyed lunatics who lived in squalor or great clutter, however you see it, and probably did commit criminal acts, innocently or ignorant of the law and let other unlawful conduct get by under their noses.

If you haven't read the book, do so. If not, do wait to see the flick. It should be a gem.


cola boy said...

Funny you should write about that. I'm reading that book now. I have only a few more chapters to go. Yes, the family members were crazy in certain ways. I laugh at the stories but am glad it didn't happen to me.

Jim said...

Buff, thanks for the heads up about the movie, very interesting. Sounds like it could be the next Mommie Dearest :)

cola boy said...

I just finished the book last night. What a great read (I have the other two books in the series and can't wait to start them). This guy had one crazy life, and how he survived it I don't know. I'd have been a total nutcase if I lived through what he did.

Vince said...

"Utter devestation to their reputations?" Um . . . what about the utter devestation to that poor guy's life?