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maryann johanson | takeaway only

daily list: 5 totally true and heartbreakingly tragic autobiographical screenplays I’m writing

Have you heard about this bint Margaret B. Jones, whose real name is Margaret Seltzer, a boring white chick from, like, Sherman Oaks or somewhere who thought she could fool the world into thinking she was a gangbanger?

The publishers of a critically acclaimed memoir about a girl raised by a black foster family who ran drugs for a notorious Los Angeles street gang pulled the book after revelations that the story was an elaborate fabrication.

So much more:

Jones… lied about being half-Native American and having been raised in south-central Los Angeles by a black foster mother she called “Big Mom.” She also claimed to have run drugs for the Bloods street gang and that one of her foster brothers was killed by rival Crips gang members.

Her “memoir” Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival was pulled before it barely got out of the gates, though someone is offering a “used” copy on Amazon… where the publisher’s original sales copy hails the book as an “unvarnished, humanizing portrait of people living in urban poverty [that] transcends both statistics and stereotypes, and reveals the power of family in a chaotic world-and the poignancy of smart, philosophical teens who dream of a safer life waiting for them beyond the streets.” *snort*

Oprah was fooled again, as she was with the James Frey “memoir” A Million Little Pieces, but I bet she’s already planning the ratings bonanza when she has Jones–er, Seltzer on the show to wail and sob about how she just wanted to do right by all her ghetto friends and never realized that lying through her greedy-ass teeth was wrong. No, she never thought once about that $100,000 advance. Not once. And Jones/Seltzer will be a huger media star then she ever would have been before with her dumbass book about clawing her way out of the ghetto. The real real story is way better: it’s about a privileged white girl who’s super super sorry she was a lying bitch.

At this point I would like to point out that every single word in my memoir The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride is absolutely, 100 percent true. I, like, swear and stuff. And it’ll be awesome when I go on Oprah, cuz I can talk about growing up all middle-class and shit on Long Island.

Anyway, in the meantime, in an attempt to accelerate myself to that day when I can be a media whore by crying and be all sorry and apologetic and naive and stupid, here are the screenplays I’m working on. Every single one of them is guaranteed to be a blockbuster. Hey, J.T. Leroy’s bullshit autobiography The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things got turned in a movie, and a pretty good one, so why shouldn’t I dream?


1. Liar’s Poker: The true story of Marilyn Johnson, a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks who bluffs her way into the hottest — and most competitive — card game in Vegas, only to discover that she’s got a knack for faking it, and can use that talent to pull herself up by her bootstraps, pay for her mother’s cancer surgery, and adopt an inner-city drug-addicted orphan. Audiences will be in tears at the reunion-with-convict-dad scene. With George Clooney as The Jaded But Still Hot Old Guy.

2. Fool Me Once: Ripped from the headlines! Mary Jane Johnstone was just an ordinary girl until the day she fell for the oldest trick in the book, and fell in — against her will — with a gang of the sharpest, meanest drug runners the cartels have ever vomited up. But a chance encounter with a handsome but tormented DEA agent (Russell Crowe) set her on an even more dangerous path as a double agent, ratting on the Colombians while turning over to them all the intel on the Feds she can gather… or is she?

3. Trickster’s Ball: Based on the bestselling memoir, this heartbreaking film of staggering genius is a faithful adaptation of the verified-by-science story of Miriam Johns, who went to sleep one night an ordinary suburban housewife and work up the next morning as Gen X icon Dave Eggers. Can Miriam juggle the kids’ soccer practice, trips to Wal-Mart, and dinner parties for her husband Josh’s corporate bosses while also carrying the mantle of modern intelligentsia and literary brilliance on her shoulders? With cameos by Gael Garcia Bernal, Johnny Depp, and Lili Taylor; directed by Michel Gondry.

4. Adam’s Fib: In the tradition of the screwball comedies of Hollywood’s golden age comes this based-on-fact tale of the hijinks of America’s first high-powered female entertainment editor, Anne-Marie Johanessen, who click-clacked her way to the top of New York’s most beloved style mag, You Suck More Than We Do, in her stiletto heels and with her rapier wit. But when a disastrous “accident” cuts her down at the height of her career, she has to learn to coexist with the “co editor” (Colin Farrell, in the role of his career) her bosses bring in to guide the magazine in her forced absence. There won’t be a dry eye in the house during the emergency room scene… or a guffaw restrained during the triumphant birthday-party sequence.

5. She Knew She Was Right: Film critic and frustrated screenwriter Marianne Johansson toiled away in obscurity all her life, drowning her sorrows in cheap Australian wine and watching her cats die before her very eyes until the day she finally said Screw it! and ran away to the Caribbean to be a beach bum. Will she get over her fear of being seen in a swimsuit? Can she learn to just give up giving a fuck and enjoy what’s left of modern civilization before it burns itself out in a mighty global apocalypse? Probably not. But it’ll be hilarious watching her try. Starring, in Marianne’s dreams, Gillian Anderson or maybe Lucy Lawless.

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