Film revives notoriety for author Clifford Irving

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Author Clifford Irving sounded wistful, even proud, this week as he recalled his wild adventures of the early 1970s, when he infamously duped his publishers at McGraw-Hill, the media, handwriting analysts and, as legend has it, President Nixon and the congressman who later investigated Watergate, into believing that the reclusive Howard Hughes had dictated his memoirs to him.

But Irving's tone turned bitter when asked about the film "The Hoax," opening today, director Lasse Hallström's version of that remarkable feat, starring Richard Gere. So many liberties were taken with the true story, he said, that the finished film bears virtually no resemblance to him or his experience. And, he said, the key players in it — his good friend and collaborator Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina); his then wife, painter Edith Irving (Marcia Gay Harden); and his mistress, the Danish singer Nina Van Pallandt (Julie Delpy) — come off as cheap, stupid facsimiles of the real people.

That's why, Irving said, he requested that his name be pulled from the credits where he was originally listed as a technical advisor. While Irving isn't surprised by the Hollywood treatment, he said he's miffed that Hallström didn't read his 1981 book about the incident, also titled "The Hoax." (Hallström said he did read the book.)

"I think it's a movie about a hoax, perpetrated by a man who happens to bear my name," Irving said Wednesday, speaking from his home in Aspen, Colo....

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