- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

Following on the heels of “Color Me Kubrick,” the story of a man who managed to pass himself off as the late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, comes “The Hoax,” about Clifford Irving’s notoriously successful attempt to sell a phony biography of Howard Hughes. The con artist as celluloid anti-hero: Don’t tell poor James Frey.

Hilton LaShawn Williams — Petty thief or R&B; singer Shirley Murdock? In 1987, he convinced hundreds, including then-District Mayor Marion Barry, that he was the latter. His cross-country tour of deception came to an end in the District, where he was arrested. Even more ignominiously, “Hot,” a proposed movie about the charade, died in development.

Milli Vanilli — Girl, you thought it was true. Worse yet, Grammy voters thought it was good — at least until they learned that 1990’s best-new-artist awardees, Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus, were a cute-looking fraud masterminded by Germany’s Frank Farian. Another instance of diabolical Teutonic engineering.

Frank Abagnale — He passed $2.5 million in bad checks, was played by Leonardo DiCaprio on the big screen (“Catch Me If You Can”) and currently runs a financial fraud consultancy. Who says conning doesn’t pay?

Christopher Rocancourt — One is tempted to conclude that anyone who fell for this guy’s line — “I’m a French Rockefeller” — deserved to lose some cash. One of his dupes, actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, agreed to produce a Rocancourt movie project — which sounds better to us than any legitimate Van Damme movie.

David Hampton — The inspiration for the stage play and, later, the Will Smith movie “Six Degrees of Separation,” he inveigled his way into the homes and wallets of celebrities such as Calvin Klein and Melanie Griffith as well as the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism while claiming to be the son of actor Sidney Poitier. Guess who’s coming to dinner, indeed.

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