Movie Mom

Movie Mom


I Am Number Four — The Story Behind the Story is Even Stranger

posted by Nell Minow

I Am Number Four is the story of a 15-year-old with special powers, one of nine children who fled a planet called Lorien and landed on Earth ten years earlier along with their adult teachers. As they mature, each child develops powers called Legacies, which help them fight the evil Mogadarians. The Nine can only be killed in order. The Mogadorians have killed One, Two, and Three, and Four is on the run with his guardian, Henri. The movie, starring “Glee’s” Diana Agron, “Deadwood’s” Timothy Olyphant as Henri, and “Alex Ryder’s” Alex Pettyfer as Number Four.

According to the book’s cover, its author is Pittacus Lore, described inside as a 10,000 year old from the planet Lorien. That may be easier to believe than the real-life story of the book’s author, or, I should say, authors.
A remarkable story in New York Magazine explains that the book is a product of James Frey’s “fiction factory.” Frey will forever be known as the best-selling author who got a major on-air take-down from Oprah after it was revealed that he had made up some of the lurid details of his purportedly non-fiction story of his struggles with drug addiction, A Million Little Pieces. Now he is inviting students in graduate writing programs to work with him on developing books designed to be best-sellers.

Frey said he was interested in conceiving commercial ideas that would sell extremely well. He was in the process of hiring writers–he said he’d already been to Princeton and was planning on recruiting from the other New York M.F.A. programs as well. We had probably heard of Jobie Hughes? Hughes was a former Columbia M.F.A. student who had graduated the previous spring. Frey told us that he and Hughes had sold the rights to an alien book they had co-written to Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay.

That book is I Am Number Four, written by Hughes under the direction of Frey. The contract Frey asks his young writers to sign gives them as little as $250 plus a percentage of any revenue — and a $50,000 penalty for revealing the arrangement without permission.
On one hand, this is an established and successful (if discredited) author giving opportunities to aspiring writers. On the other hand, it asks them to give up a great deal in return. I wonder if the relationship with Frey inspired in part the description of the hounded Number Four.



  • Lucien Foster

    Frey is a thief…It will all come out. He stole this manuscript. The Library of Congress holds the true writer…Karma is a bitch. You wait and see. Justice will prevail.

  • Charlie

    Alright, so wait,
    Was Frey the original writer, or was Lore?
    And are the events in the story true?
    ‘Cause it says on like the second page of the book that they are true,
    But i’m getting confused with the whole “Frey” story….

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks for writing, Charlie! The story is not true. It is a work of fiction by Jobie Hughes with the help of James Frey.

Previous Posts

List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters
In honor of this week's release of "Focus," here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that "con" comes from "confidence." A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven't seen these, crank

posted 3:45:21pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Love & Mercy with Paul Dano and John Cusack as Brian Wilson
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VUhFpFQeilM?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Love & Mercy" tells the story of Brian Wilson, the brilliant but troubled member of the Beach Boys.

posted 8:14:21am Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Contest: Win an Insurgent T-Shirt
Getting ready for the second film in the "Divergent" series? Not sure you have just the right thing to wear? I'm here to solve your problem! I have an "Insurgent" t-shirt (Size L) to give away!

posted 3:55:04pm Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Toys That Impair Imagination: The Over-Licensing of Children's Toys
It's always tempting to give children toys from the movies and television programs they love, and some of them are high-quality or even educational. But Melissa Atkins Wardy has a very good argument

posted 8:00:05am Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Ryan Potter, Hiro in "Big Hero 6"
Ryan Potter provided the voice for Hiro in this week's DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6. Talking to him on the phone, it was easy to imagine I was talking to Hiro himself. Other than a few moments with Maya Rudolph, who played Hiro's harried guardian, he did not interact

posted 3:58:31pm Feb. 24, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.