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Apr 2014

James Strauss and his Fake Writing Credits

Posted by / in Scams / 80 comments

A year ago, I published a blog post here titled “Easily Fooled” about being on a TV writing panel at a mystery conference with a guy whose writing credits were all fake.  I omitted his name to save him embarrassment. I was being too kind, because the guy is still hoodwinking conferences and the paying attendees with the same scam. So here’s the post again… with his name included this time.

James Strauss

James gets gigs teaching screenwriting courses based on his experience writing episodes on the TV shows HOUSE, DEADWOOD, SAVING GRACE and ENTOURAGE. The problem is, according to the Writers Guild of America and writer/producers on those shows, James Strauss never worked as a writer on any of those series. So beware. If you run across any conference or seminar programs where he’s fraudulently claiming those credits in his biography, please alert the organizers and have them contact Lesley McCambridge in the WGA West credits department. Okay, so here’s the April 2013 post that tells how I first encountered this fake, James Strauss:

James Srauss claims to have written episodes of HOUSE. He didn't.

James Strauss claims to have written episodes of HOUSE. He didn’t.

The First Clue: Strauss Didn’t Know What He Was Talking About

Recently, I was a guest at a Love is Murder Conference in Chicago and one of my fellow speakers/panelists was James Strauss, who claimed to have written for scores of acclaimed network TV shows, like House, Deadwood, and Entourage, and a big upcoming movie, The Equalizer. Based on his experience, he’d been invited to speak at writer’s conferences, seminars, and libraries from coast to coast, including some nice paid gigs in Hawaii and Mexico. I’d never heard of him…and the instant I met him, I knew something was off.

For one thing, I knew one of the writers of the big, upcoming movie he claimed to have worked on…and I knew writer/producers on most of the shows he said he wrote for…and when I mentioned their names to James, he was evasive or said he came on the various projects before or after my friends were there. I might have bought that, screenwriting is a pretty nomadic business, but everything he said on his panels and in his talks about writing scripts and working on episodic series wasn’t just wrong, it was inane. Even in our personal conversations, he said some pretty stupid stuff about the business.

The Second Clue: Strauss Had No Credits. Anywhere. For Anything.

So I looked James Strauss up on IMDb. No credits. I googled his name, with the titles of the series he said he worked on, to see what came up… and the results I got all came from his website and the conferences he’d spoken at. Now my B.S. meter was in the red zone.

So I contacted my friends on the shows that he said he worked on. Not one of them had ever heard of him.

So I called the Writers Guild of America’s credits department and asked for his credits. They told me he wasn’t a member and had no writing credits.

Clearly, James Strauss was fraud. And not a very sophisticated one either if a mere google search could unmask him.

Now that the Guild was alerted to the guy, they investigated the issue in more depth, and sent him a strong cease-and-desist letter.

James Strauss claims to have written episodes of DEADWOOD. He didn't.

James Strauss claims to have written episodes of DEADWOOD. He didn’t.

Conferences Should Check Credentials of So-Called “Experts”

What I don’t get is how so many conferences, libraries, and seminars could have invited this guy to speak, and paid his way to tropical locales, without doing even the most basic check of his credentials. In this day and age, if a guy says he wrote for some of the most acclaimed shows on TV, you should be able to easily confirm it with a simple Google search.  And if you can’t, that should be a big, fat, red freaking flag.

I alerted the conference organizers about this guy’s fraud, and they said they’d always suspected something was off about him, but he seemed very knowledgeable and was so likeable that they let it go. They won’t make that mistake again.

UPDATE 4-22-2014: They actually did! Love is Murder invited James Strauss back again this year to talk about TV writing …even after being alerted by me and the WGA that he was a fraud. But James wisely was a last-minute no-show. The WGA sent him another cease-and-desist letter, and copied the conference. There’s nothing wrong with him teaching screenwriting. What is wrong is claiming credits and experience that he doesn’t have.

IncrediblyJames Strauss is still at it, claiming credits he doesn’t have. Yesterday, I discovered another conference that he was scheduled to speak at in May as an expert in TV writing. His bio listed the usual falsehoods. So I alerted the organizers about his fake credits and put them in touch with the WGA. The conference immediately disinvited Strauss. It’s discovering his continued fraud that prompted me to rewrite and repost this blog today.

When he’s asked to validate his writing credits, he claims he can’t because he wrote his scripts “under the table” and “off the books” so David Shore, David Milch, and the other producers he worked for could avoid paying WGA rates for writers. Uh-huh. That tells you how little James Strauss knows about the TV biz…or about the people he claims to have worked with. HOUSE creator/EP David Shore is on the Board of the Writers Guild of America and chairs the New Members committee.

James Strauss is not a clever fake. The problem is that the conference organizers he meets are so well-meaning, gullible and desperate for impressive guest speakers.

Here’s what James Strauss is saying today on his Facebook page about me outing his fakery:

“Ah, this day closes. I am under attack. For being what I am not supposed to be. For saying what I am not supposed to say. For attempting to live through the mythology of our phenomenal existence with little or no respect into a reality of hard truth and unacceptable demonstration of how things are. Just another day. Not so. A tough day and one not necessarily supported by those living in comfort and removed from the harshness of cold real world delivery. And so I bid you all a good night. I hope your day was better than mine but mine, even such as it was, wasn’t so bad as others have it. For them….I wish them love and acceptance. I wish them belief and tolerance. I wish them everything….”

UPDATE 4-24-2014 – James Strauss is a convicted conman.

James-R-Straus_mugshot.400x800
UPDATE JAN 28. 2015
Fake TV writer and convicted conman James Strauss is back…this time expressing on Facebook his happiness that his author page is finally creeping up to top of Google search results for his name as opposed to all the posts on the web about his swindles. What amuses me about this bizarre post is how he casts himself as a victim…as opposed to the many people that he deceived and defrauded.
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80 comments
  • Kitty

    April 23, 2014, am30 9:27 AM
    01

    “…he seemed very knowledgeable and was so likeable that they let it go.” That’s like this Certified Financial Planner commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Afufjv_6-t4

  • Paul Tenny

    April 23, 2014, am30 9:27 AM
    02

    Is it really that easy to get a page on IMDb now? You don’t even need a credit to get a page? I’m really bummed out by that. I’m working on a short film this year and was kind of hoping that I might be able to get an IMDb credit for it just for something cool to have. But if it’s that easy to con your way on there, what good is it at all.

  • Shaun McLaughlin

    April 23, 2014, am30 10:48 AM
    03

    This kind of crap pisses me off SO much. As someone who’s an educator AND currently working in the industry, I’ve come across the damage these bullshitters create. Let alone the money they make for having done NOTHING

  • That Neil Guy

    April 23, 2014, am30 11:24 AM
    04

    Cruised over to his website and was scrolling through some things when this phrase popped out at me:

    “We must stop our current common practice of lying about everything all the time.”

    You can find it at the end of this essay. http://www.byjamesstrauss.com/new-essay-James-Strauss-34499070

  • Mark

    April 23, 2014, am30 11:26 AM
    05

    The poor guy. He had to suffer yesterday because his lies caught up to him.

    Allow me to go over in the corner and not cry for him at all.

  • Rob Cornell

    April 23, 2014, am30 11:28 AM
    06

    What the heck does that FB post even mean? If he can’t write a coherent post on Facebook, I can’t imagine him writing for the shows he’s claiming.

  • That Neil Guy

    April 23, 2014, am30 11:41 AM
    07

    Been googling him a bit more and also found this nugget, written by someone who attended one of his presentations:

    “I liked Jim Strauss’s presentation. Don’t let agents and publishers make you stop believing in yourself and your book, Jim advised. He got his first book accepted by showing up at a publishing house and pretending to be the nephew of the president of the company, and his next one by shadowing an agent and striking up a conversation with him at a bar.”

    http://julietrosetti.net/blog-2/

    • That Neil Guy

      April 23, 2014, am30 11:42 AM
      08

      And here is his bio somewhere else:

      James Strauss, successful Hollyood screenwriter, has written for projects as diverse as House and Deadwood. The Boy, his novel of prehistoric times is being filmed by Walt Disney Studios. He is currently working with the legendary Stan Lee on a new set of superhero graphic novels.

      http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/tag/james-strauss/

    • Erik Sherman

      April 24, 2014, pm30 4:16 PM
      09

      As someone who has spent his share of time on book projects, the idea of someone claiming to have shown up pretending to be someone’s nephew and getting a contract is ludicrous. If you check Amazon, there is only one book by an author named James Strauss — a science fiction/fantasy novel from 2009. Information about old books stays around there for years. (I can even find something I wrote that came out in 2000 but it long out of print.) Where are the multiple books? Oh, right, probably with the screenplays.

      • Lee Goldberg

        April 24, 2014, pm30 5:50 PM
        10

        I had two books published by Gale, so I checked out James Strauss and THE BOY to see if his book was actually published by them. It was, indeed, published by Gale/Five Star’s now-defunct scifi line. The book was a commerical failure.

  • Nonny

    April 23, 2014, pm30 12:06 PM
    11

    Thank you so much! I have a tendency toward gullibility, and I appreciate everyone who unmasks the fakes and phonies.

  • David

    April 23, 2014, pm30 12:17 PM
    12

    Reminds me of this guy:

    http://designingsound.org/2010/01/sound-designer-brice-carrington-gets-4-years-for-fraud/

  • Scott Phillips

    April 23, 2014, pm30 1:11 PM
    13

    There’s some really bad prose here, too: http://www.jamesstraussauthor.com/

  • wcmartell

    April 23, 2014, pm30 1:30 PM
    14

    I love when you go to the IMDB page and click on “writer” you get nada…

    My credits are crap, but I have a bunch of stuff that got made and is listed on IMDB.

    This guy reminds me of another guy who does “script consulting” that Bill Rabkin and I both know who claims all kinds of credits and when you ask him to just name one, he says “They’re indie films” instead of just naming some movie with his name on it. Becomes evasive and combative. Starts calling people names.

    Easier to just be honest…. you don’t have to remember a bunch of lies.

  • KB Burnfield

    April 23, 2014, pm30 1:53 PM
    15

    Thanks for making the effort, Lee. It’s bad enough that people are charging for teaching courses with no credits or experience but falsifying is really crummy.

  • John Krill

    April 23, 2014, pm30 2:16 PM
    16

    He should try being a fake photographer. That’s a lot easier to do. I should know.

  • Derek Haas

    April 23, 2014, pm30 5:25 PM
    17

    A lot of people give me grief for writing the original Star Wars, so I feel his pain.

    • Richard Dean Starr

      April 25, 2014, pm30 8:20 PM
      18

      Just a great comment.

  • Mike Barer

    April 23, 2014, pm30 5:54 PM
    19

    Amazing! I guess since the writers are behind the scenes and don’t appear on screen, they can effect the coolness of being in the industry, and people are less likely to question their credibility. My brother, Danny can relate the experience of meeting a writer named John Black, when he met the real John Black, he talked of an imposter that was making the rounds.
    I guess now adays, it’s known as identity theft.

  • Chaka

    April 23, 2014, pm30 9:31 PM
    20

    THANK YOU! I love it when someone busts these frauds and calls them out publicly. Hopefully, the next time a (newbie) writer wants to spend $500 for a weekend seminar, Google will ping this article and out the credit-stealing fucker!

  • Dan Williams

    April 24, 2014, am30 5:51 AM
    21

    I’m glad you see these guys, Lee, I never can. A guy where I worked faked his resume to get the job. Then he stole $300,000 from the company. Soft-spoken, nice guy, interesting, funny. You’d never suspect. Thank goodness for all the honest persons out there.

  • Doug Cummings

    April 24, 2014, am30 7:20 AM
    22

    Is this the same screenwriter who claimed to be a former CIA agent/Air America employee? Lives in Wisconsin?

    • Lee Goldberg

      April 24, 2014, am30 8:03 AM
      23

      That’s the guy. Except he’s not a screenwriter…he pretends to be one. I would be skeptical about his claims of being a “CIA agent” as well.

  • Cheatonomics Case Study: James Strauss | Bill Peschel

    April 24, 2014, am30 8:18 AM
    24

    […] Today, we’ll take a look at TV screenwriter and author James Strauss. Or, according to Lee Goldberg, NOT TV SCREENWRITER James Strauss. […]

  • Peter Anthony Holder

    April 24, 2014, am30 8:49 AM
    25

    There is the term “thinking outside the box.” I bring it up because I am reminded of how other criminals have been caught in the past. Al Capone was convicted of mere tax evasion. This guy is indeed a criminal. He’s getting money under false pretenses, and even in his own lies, says he’s working “under the table.” Perhaps it’s time the IRS was invited to his door.

  • C. Glen Williams

    April 24, 2014, am30 10:37 AM
    26

    Wow. This reminds me of when the Comics convention circuit kept booking Rob Granito, who not only claimed to have worked on titles he never worked on, but actually claimed to have ghosted for artists — possibly damaging their reputations in order to build up his own. http://comicsalliance.com/rob-granito-scam-artist/

  • Ken Isaacson

    April 24, 2014, am30 11:25 AM
    27

    Lee, I figured it out. You’re attacking him because you suffer from “artful anger.” It has to be. I read what artful anger is on his FB page:

    “Artful anger is a phrase I coined years ago for people who want to be artists, it doesn’t matter what medium, who see other artists doing great work brilliantly and effortlessly. It was well illustrated in the movie about Mozart. He could do what the king’s official composer could not and he could do it with ease and all the time. I write on here all the time. I know that the stuff is pretty good or nobody would read it, much less comment. That makes some people mad. I can write an entire film script in less than a week, a treatment in a day and a summary in minutes. It is simply what I have been given to do. That does not bode well with a lot of people who would love to be able to do that but can’t.”

  • GKN

    April 24, 2014, pm30 3:23 PM
    28

    I know a half dozen people from writer groups or what have you who, after a few years of never having managed to get published or produced, started making money teaching others how to. Their students were just as successful, as far as I know. That’s what “artful anger” really is, Ken.

  • James Strauss, The Fake TV Writer, Revealed as Convicted Swindler | Lee Goldberg

    April 24, 2014, pm30 7:08 PM
    29

    […] public outing of fake TV writer James Strauss aka James R. Straus on my blog yesterday prompted several of my enterprising Facebook followers, especially John Hendrick, Barbara Early and […]

  • Richard Dean Starr

    April 25, 2014, am30 1:39 AM
    30

    Clearly, Mr. Strauss (or whatever his real name is) suffers from severely low self-esteem. I would feel some sympathy for him, except that his actions are costing gullible people money. Oh, and the fact that he’s a blatant thief. And…oh, never mind. So I don’t have any sympathy for him. Especially after I read this bit of his “effortlessly” written prose:

    “Upon reaching the structure Daryl set his spear to lean against the outside wall just outside of the family room opening. It stood next to his father’s, although not quite as long or thick. But then, no warrior of the tribe carried a spear the size of his fathers, just as no man came to within two hand widths of his height.”

    I’ve read worse, but this is still pretty bad.

    • Dan Williams

      April 25, 2014, am30 6:36 AM
      31

      I agree, Richard, the ‘writing’ is ‘not good’ and it’s tough to have sympathy for him. My take is, I always seem to feel sorry for anybody who goes astray. And I can never bring myself ‘to condemn’ anybody. Strauss could turn around tomorrow and volunteer himself in a risky clinical drug trial for a liver disease that could help doctors save thousands. Yes, it may be unlikely and may never happen, but I’d rather be rooting for him to change than ‘throwing mud’ on him. Just my take.

      • Richard Dean Starr

        April 25, 2014, pm30 8:40 PM
        32

        I don’t root for people like Mr. Strauss to change any more than I root for them to not do bad things. I’m not their father, confessor, friend, relative, acquaintance, cellmate, or parole officer. I’m busy living my own life and trying to be as decent as I can on a day-by-day basis. What I hope people will do is the right thing, whenever possible…just because that’s the way it’s supposed to be, ya know?

        I tend to agree with the great John Douglas, former FBI profiler and author of MINDHUNTER: sociopaths are, by and large, very aware of what they’re doing. They make choices every time they lie, cheat, steal, or even murder someone. They simply don’t care.

        When you make bad decisions over and over again, in my opinion that’s not going astray: it’s clear and deliberate action. Sometimes the minimum way to shut someone like that down is to “throw mud” on them, and make a lot of noise while you’re doing it. Otherwise, more innocent—or gullible–people might be hurt by their actions.

        On other occasions, as in the case of Mr. Strauss, the police have to get involved. Despite earning a criminal record, Mr. Strauss has barely slowed down since 2011. In fact, he was accused of another crime while awaiting sentencing on a previous charge. Now he is clearly continuing to market himself to writing groups and conventions as an expert in a field in which he has no experience—and frankly, minimal to no talent.

        That’s not only wrong, that’s fraud.

        • Dan Williams

          April 26, 2014, am30 4:33 AM
          33

          Whoa, Richard, slow down. Yes, he must be stopped. Yes, he’s in the wrong. Yes, he has to be identified and called out. Yes, he must be judged and sent to jail. Yes, he very probably knows he’s doing wrong as he’s doing it. Yes, he went on and on. Yes, he’s hurt persons. That’s all on the ‘crime’ side of it, but what about the ‘punishment’ side?

          When you say you’re not related to him in any way, that’s where I think you are wrong. We are all in it together. And the ability to treat others with compassion is what make us human and not ‘rabid animals, lashing out at others.’ And when you say persons should do good ‘whenever possible,’ that’s just the point — it ‘wasn’t possible.’ Otherwise, he’d have done good, not bad. So ‘an investigator of moral actions’ would want to understand why this person went astray and kept going astray — and then to bring these insights to the culture. Finally, persons are not perfect, it’s not a perfect world, so we can’t expect perfect behavior from everybody all the time. That’s why true justice is based upon mercy and understanding,

          Anyway, I notice that some people ‘like’ to humiliate others, and throw mud on them, and kick them when they are down and/or caught out, and to lash out. Which is the worse crime — the original one, or the secondary one? It’s the secondary one.

          • Richard Dean Starr

            April 26, 2014, am30 6:50 AM
            34

            First of all, Dan, my “speed” is just fine. You expressed an idea, I responded to it thoughtfully based upon my own experiences, not to mention both my education and private background study in psychology. Telling someone to “slow down” the way you did is, at best, condescending; at worst, it’s dismissive.

            Secondly, please quote me where I wrote that I am “…not associated with him in any way.” I’m pretty sure you’ll find that missing. The fact is, I wasn’t entering into a debate on humanism or spirituality with you; I was pointing out that the guy is very likely a sociopath and that I agree with Lee and the other posters he needs to be called out for it. Nothing more, nothing less.

            You also implied that those of us who are criticizing Mr. Strauss “like to humiliate” (in your words) people when they’re down. That’s not only condescending, too, it misses the entire point. Not to mention that it’s insulting to those good people who have criticized Mr. Strauss who also like help people on a regular basis. And no, Dan, I’m not talking about me. If and when I help people, I keep that to myself.

            The fact is, I see nothing self-righteous about the vast majority of the reactions to Mr. Strauss’s actions. If anything, given his history, they’re being rather subdued. Not too much more than a hundred years ago, Mr. Strauss might very well have found himself on the opposite end of a rope, rather than the subject of some barbed–but accurate–words. Mr. Strauss should be grateful he lives in more indulgent times. And no, Dan, that doesn’t mean I endorse lynching in any form. I’m simply pointing out a historically-supported fact.

            So no, I don’t have a hell of a lot of sympathy for him. Instead of wasting time defending what you presume to be his tender feelings, you might consider extending a little sympathy to the teachers of the International School of Bangkok, who lost over $400,000 to this dirt bag.

            Anyone who knows what teachers make, no matter where they teach, would find Mr. Strauss’s actions in that case deplorable enough by themselves.

  • garydobbs

    April 25, 2014, am30 7:39 AM
    35

    I came across this article via a link and when I read the link I misread it and thought it said Lee Goldberg was a fake. Sheesh – well done on exposing this dude

  • Gerard

    April 25, 2014, am30 8:06 AM
    36

    Ha! This guy spoke at the Watertown, WI public library a couple years ago. It was on a panel with other local, self-pubbed authors.. He was a great speaker. He was funny and engaging. He spoke about writing for HOUSE and how the producer disliked him but that Hugh Laurie loved him and Strauss was kept on. He openly wondered to the audience why he was there, as if he was too big to be there.

    After such a great talk I looked him up and found nothing on IMDB. He spoke about running a succesfull newspaper (is there such a thing now?) in Lake Geneva and I had to hunt to find the paper’s web page. To be fair to Watertown PL, this was a self-pub author event and no one was paid. Strauss was there plugging his novel BOY. I recall Strauss name dropping a reviewer for his novel. I was suspicious about the need to self-pub and the lack of distribution but I never bought the book anyway.

    I’ll forward this post to my colleague at Waterown PL, not to mention our staff member who books adult programs.

    • Lee Goldberg

      April 25, 2014, pm30 1:19 PM
      37

      Please do. Getting word out about his fakery is the best way to prevent him from succeeding with his pathetic cons in the future.

    • Christine Merrill

      April 28, 2014, pm30 9:55 PM
      38

      Not wanting to be a bitch. But I was on that panel, and definitely not self published. Had something llike 12 books out at that point in multiple languages. Hundreds off thousands of sales.

      And I am now kicking myself for letting that guy spout nonsense. He was loud and obnoxious, and using the TV writer Schtick to drown out the rest of us. Proof that outright lies are often more interesting than the truths of a career as a full.time writer.

      • Gerard

        May 2, 2014, am31 8:39 AM
        39

        Christine, You were at the Watertown event or Love is Murder or both? For that Watertown event I most recall a guy from either Watertown or Whitewater who self e-pubbed 4-5 novels and poetry collections. There was a younger lady who self-pubbed a vampire novel.

        Your books check-out pretty well at Watertown PL. I don’t have any copies in Lake Mills PL. I’ll put FALL OF A SAINT on the order list.

  • Peter Spencer

    April 25, 2014, pm30 1:06 PM
    40

    He seems to have no credits or even bio on his website now. I imagine he’ll find it hard to run his scam in the future. I’ve with William Martell; my films are low budget indies but they get made and maybe one day I’ll get a movie I can be remembered for. Thanks for publishing this, Lee.

  • Charles Edward Pogue

    April 25, 2014, pm30 2:58 PM
    42

    Lee,

    Thanks for this! This guy out of the blue gave me a friend request on facebook several years ago. Since it came with a recommend of another friend, I allowed it. He very quickly became an embarrassment. Full of gushing praise and cloying sycophancy about my work or anything I posted. Just too complimentary. Almost Uriah Heepish. I tried my best to ignore him and even discourage him. Finally after I called him out on some conservative political views I disagreed with and continued to ignore his unctuous post and pms, he disappeared. I actually thought I had de-friended him since the charade of niceness was over. But I just checked and still found him among my facebook friends. No longer. Oddly enough, I always found his credits fishy…but never thought to check them out.

  • Dan Williams

    April 26, 2014, am30 7:58 AM
    43

    Richard, I see your points. I do. And they are well taken. I’ve no intention to be condescending or dismissive. I think, in fact, that I’m more engaging than most. But if I come across that way, then I’m sorry, I don’t mean to.

    But I still see you as arguing the ‘crime side’ of the argument and not addressing the ‘punishment side’ of it. I addressed you in the first place, because you were the only one who mentioned the word, ‘sympathy.’ So it’s a compliment. If Strauss, a hundred years ago, was on a scaffold about to be hanged, I’d have more sympathy for him than ever, it’s a terrible fate, and a terrible human situation to get yourself into, and never worth committing the crime.

    Anyway, I’m defending his ‘tender feelings’ so much as his humanity. He did a terrible thing, with all his lying and stealing. And he’ll pay, dearly. But I shudder to think anybody has to go thru the punishment he’s going to face. We do wrong and it kicks the stuffing out of us, eventually. I want to believe he can make amends. That’s my point of view. And I won’t gang up on him.

  • Denis McGrath (@heywriterboy)

    April 26, 2014, am30 10:14 AM
    44

    I’ve shaken my head at this whole thing just like everybody else. But there’s a couple of distinctions here that are interesting and important.

    You can be a good communicator, even a good teacher, and not have the “real world experience.” I was a TV Producer and very young when I picked up some screenwriting courses to teach at my alma mater. I was hired because the head of the department knew me, knew my writing, knew I was empathetic and working to self-produce my plays and transition out of TV newsmagazine production and into writing myself. I taught for several years – undergrads. I was privileged enough to read lots of talented people’s first scripts. I was always very clear about where I was, and where the theories and ideas about storytelling were coming from. I would point people to Syd Field or Snyder or McKee if they wanted more. I would walk through great writing, credit the writing, I would point them to articles and first-hand articles in Creative Screenwriting or Written By when needed.

    Several of the students I taught in my early classes are professional writers now. In fact, some of the really successful ones inspired me to work that much harder to get my own career off the ground. It was an amazing thing, and informed my experience down the road, to see just how rare good storytelling skill was: I’d have 30, 40 students a semester and there would always be at most, 1 or 2 who I thought were cut out to be a pro TV or film writer. (I would say 95% of those people went on to do just that, by the way — and after a couple years I could even start to ID who the likely ‘stars’ would be in the class even before they turned in a piece of work…something in the questioning, the affect was recognizable.)

    Now, here’s the thing: never in that time did I ever present myself as having credits I didn’t. A few (and I say this with fondness) “little shits” in my time gave me, “what do you know? ‘tude based on the fact that I hadn’t, say, worked for HOUSE. To which I’d shrug and say, “hey, it’s subjective, you can take or leave my feedback. (But you still get a C-)”.

    Flash ahead, credits under my belt, time in the trenches and you see the grey — of times the story dept had to gang bang a script to get a freelance script into shape only to hear everyone praise the brilliance of the writer who’s name is on the ep and didn’t write one word of the final product…and you see the actors who aren’t smart enough to fall into the, “oh yeah, most of the good stuff we come up with on the floor,” and you see wave after wave of people who “could write better than that crap if they had a chance.”

    Everybody thinks they can write on some level, and that they have a story worth telling. That’s human nature. What’s galling about this kind of thing is somebody fronting experience they don’t have. I don’t know if this guy has ever told anyone anything that might damage their attempts to “break in.” I find it hard to believe he could do that damage.

    But claiming glories you don’t have in order to be invited places isn’t just sleazy. It points to a psychological map that’s far more troubling. It’s not the grifter-level, easily unfolded lies that really bother me about this guy…it’s the fact that to be a working writer, you have to be way tougher than him. You have to take notes from everybody. Everyone thinks they can ‘improve’ your work, and that they should have a say. You must endure people who literally can decide your fate who are patently unqualified, and devoid of the insight or judgement to properly evaluate your work — and yet they’re still in that position.

    This guy’s like some despicable charlatan who claims to have served in uniform when they never have. You can be an enthusiast, or a great communicator. You can inspire people trying to write in seminars at your library or community centre…but if you’re claiming you were in the shit, and you weren’t, and you’re trading on that fakery to get people to listen to you, well, that’s simultaneously repellant and pathetic.

  • Dan Williams

    April 26, 2014, am30 11:17 AM
    45

    Denis, you are one of the troopers, the believers, the guys who follow their dreams. And best of all, you’re honest. And I appreciate honesty. And I applaud Lee for recognizing Strauss for what he is. But none of us yet knows why Strauss acted as he did. He is entitled to defend himself. And so we can’t come to a conclusion as to the degree of his guilt or to what justice would be for him. Therefore, I refuse to call him any name. I refuse to take any delight in humiliating him with name-calling, I refuse to throw mud on him. I refuse ‘to enjoy it’ that somebody’s in trouble. Because I don’t yet know what he was going thru. But I do know that I’ve gone thru stuff. And so I’m willing to suspend judgement until after the trial.

    • John Hudgens

      April 26, 2014, pm30 1:38 PM
      46

      What defense could he possibly offer? He lied about his credits – we know this, and there’s no justification for that. End of story.

      • Dan Williams

        April 27, 2014, am30 11:42 AM
        47

        Not so fast, John. There are all sorts of reasons for lying. Sometimes, some reasons are better than others. If his main crime was ‘lying about credits,’ then we have to look at why he lied, from his point-of-view, and not our point-of-view. For instance, supposed he lied to raise money to ransom his wife from a cartel group in Mexico? That would be an ‘understandable lie,’ right? We can’t just assume it was for ‘scum-bag, dirt-bag self-interest.’
        Anyway, why is there a rush to judgement? Which would be the worse crime — to lie, or to rush to judgement and then be proved unjust? It’s to rush to judgement.

        • Dan Williams

          April 27, 2014, pm30 12:50 PM
          48

          I might, John, go just a step further.

          It’s just a fact that ‘perfect persons are boring.’ And it’s just a fact that ‘stuff happens.’ And it’s just a fact that it is wrong for us to ‘guilt ourselves’ because we are not ‘perfect.’ Nobody is or can be in this imperfect world.

          So my thesis is, that the highest reach of our ability as human beings is ‘forgiveness’ — and the place to start is with ourselves. There is no point at all in imprisoning ourselves within a prison of guilt. What good does that do for anybody? It doesn’t. So the thing is to love this person who is ourselves, and to keep learning, and to keep trying — and that effort is what makes us ‘good persons.’ ‘Good persons’ are not ‘perfect persons’ — ‘good persons’ are persons who continue to try every day. So if anybody falls, that does not define them — the daily effort defines us — and anybody can respect themselves for daily effort — even murderers.

  • Not Jason Bateman

    April 27, 2014, pm30 3:36 PM
    49

    Lee,

    I agree, this is repugnant behavior. There are weak moments in a writer’s life when looking for a mentor who has achieved what they wish allows them to trust the teachings and guidance of the lecturer or speaker. This is true in many of the creative arts. It is therefore psychopathic to charge money to guide the vulnerable when there is no merit worthy of guidance in ones provenance. But here is the real heartbreaker: for so many who purchase tickets, spend money on travel and lodging, and on food and beverages, these conferences are highly anticipated events about which they hope will give them that stroke of luck, that break that they have always been looking for. To lie to people of that nature takes the lack of empathy of a psychopath.

    Lee, you should take your findings about the defrauding of all of those conferences who paid out great sums of money for travel and room and board, as well as for the speaking itself, to the FBI. I imagine they would at the very least be interested in the new cons of this already-convicted con man.

  • Dan Williams

    April 27, 2014, pm30 4:33 PM
    50

    Not Jason Bateman, your ‘reasoning’ is so full of holes that I’m going to go easy on you, with the idea that your emotions have taken you away. And that’s happened to me, too.

    The main error you make is, that if he lied about his credits, then what he says must be without merit. But how do you know this? You don’t. You never attended his seminars. So you can’t condemn him, can you? No, you can’t. You can’t because you don’t know what you are talking about. You are gushing emotions based upon reports by Lee that you do not question and do not think about in any depth. Okay? You are being unjust. But that won’t stop you from throwing mud on a person you do not understand. Honestly.

    You know, on this blog, I’m the ‘soul of the blog.’ I’m not the spirit, I’m not the mind, I’m not the body, I’m not the intelligence. Lee, is the intelligence. But I’m the soul. And it’s a tension between ‘the intelligence’ and ‘the soul.’ Yes, Lee sees who the bad guys are, but I see how accusations go too far. Honestly, Not Jason Bateman, how would you like IT if you were exposed in your worst moments, and 50 persons dumped all over you?

    • Lee Goldberg

      April 27, 2014, pm30 4:49 PM
      51

      Dan wrote: “You know, on this blog, I’m the ‘soul of the blog.’ I’m not the spirit, I’m not the mind, I’m not the body, I’m not the intelligence. Lee, is the intelligence. But I’m the soul. And it’s a tension between ‘the intelligence’ and ‘the soul.’ ”

      You’re WHAT!? Oy vey. Um, no, Dan you’re not. You’re one of many readers who comments on my posts. You are, in no way, shape or form, the “soul” of my blog. Get a grip on yourself.

      FWIW, “Not Jason Bateman” is absolutely right. There is no merit to anything James Strauss says about writing. I have heard him speak. It’s inane, worthless drivel. You can get a good sample of his stupidity by watching his interview on YouTube.

      Lee

      • Dan Williams

        April 27, 2014, pm30 7:21 PM
        52

        Lee, you amuse me.

        You really can’t see things at all.

        I want you to define, in front of your blog, what ‘the soul of the blog’ means. Who is it? Let’s see how well you do.

        I mean, you know more than me, right?

        • Lee Goldberg

          April 27, 2014, pm30 8:13 PM
          53

          Um, I am the soul of my blog, Dan. It’s an expression of who I am, my beliefs and my experiences.

          I am the soul of my blog in the same way I am the soul of anything *I* write.

          You are a simply guest here.

          The fact that you need someone to explain that to you is strange…and disturbing.

          If you want to be “the soul” of someone’s blog, you should start your own.

          Lee

          • Denis McGrath

            April 29, 2014, am30 11:20 AM
            54

            Lee, can I be the Duke of your blog? Please? I live in Canada, which is still part of the Commonwealth, and it’s way easier if you’re part of the gentry.

          • Dwight Brown

            May 1, 2014, am31 8:54 AM
            55

            I have my own blog, but I will happily volunteer to be the spleen of yours, Mr. Goldberg. (It appears “soul” and “Duke” are already taken. If someone else has claimed “spleen”, I’m willing to be the pancreas.)

  • Not Jason Bateman

    April 27, 2014, pm30 7:06 PM
    56

    Lee,

    Mr. Williams is correct, I am reacting strongly to “reports by Lee.” In fact, yes, I have read about you Mr. Strauss, aka Mr. Williams I suspect, soley through the writings about you by Mr. Goldberg. The reason for my belief in Mr. Goldberg is at the very center of this caucus of you and I and he. The reason I am referring to is trustworthiness.

    To make my point, consider a topic I know nothing about until I read about it in The New York Times. The New York Times has had several scandals involving staff reporters, like those caught at The New Rebulic, who plagiarized or wrote sheer fiction. Our LA Times has suffered the same. Despite those truths, when I read either paper, I easily lean towards believing what I’ve read because their respective records of inaccuracies never eclipses their record of accuracy

    Past behavior is indeed the best predictor of future behavior, and because of my belief in that I easily lean towards (at best seriously questioning, but more often than not, because of an uneasy gnaw in my gut that suspects deceit) rejecting what I now read by Mr. Strauss.

    On the other hand, because I have seen Mr. Goldberg performing the work he cites as his professional experience, as well as having experienced first hand, and heard through our very small grape vine here, his integrity, I believe what he says and writes. Add to that that Lee has never served time in prison for deceit crimes (which are occurring, only in a different fashion, at these conferences).

    Many criminals are extraordinarily talented, genius even. Mr. Strauss is one. For men like Mr. srauss, that brilliance is the very reason rooms full of desperate writers believe him, and how conference organizers are charmed enough to look past their, “something’s not quite right about this chap” feeling.

    The reason for our ongoing discourse here on Mr. Goldberg’s web site is because we feel as though Mr. Strauss has sneaked in to our village by creepy tactics that wouldn’t have mattered much until we learned that those tactics are an echo of the very tactics that found him in prison. Tactics is a word empty of color and that moves no emotion, but if we saw the faces or the working men and women who were robbed overseas by Mr. Strauss by claiming to be something he wasn’t, or the families here in the U.S. who he robbed with his charm and false identities we wouldn’t only believe Mr. Goldberg, we’d thank him personally like many in our circles have already.

    I could have expressed my position with more brevity I admit, by simply writing the unequivocal truth as it were. “Of course I trust Lee. We all do.” But hopefully, if anyone reads what I chose to write instead, they will understand not my biased distain for Mr. Strauss, but rather my unsettling concern about this behavior that Lee so deftly reported.

    • Lee Goldberg

      April 27, 2014, pm30 8:16 PM
      57

      Thank you for your kind words, “Not Jason Bateman.” But I should correct one error. I am certain that Dan is not James Strauss.

      Lee

      • Dan Williams

        April 28, 2014, am30 6:29 AM
        58

        Not Jason Bateman, I assure you I’m not Strauss. Honestly. And you’re right, Lee’s done a great service by exposing Strauss. But remember, Strauss is a human being. Yes, he made bad, terrible mistakes. Nevertheless, we must treat him better than he treated others. If we don’t, then we no better, and probably worse. This is something that Lee doesn’t get. He’s just a bit thick on this point.

  • Richard Dean Starr

    April 27, 2014, pm30 10:03 PM
    59

    Lee…

    I stumbled across yet another version of his bio along with a radio interview. Don’t know if you’ve seen this one yet, but he’s added ‘deep sea diver’, ‘pilot’, and ‘shipboard physician’s assistant’ to the list. Even the poor host reading off the list of his “accomplishments” sounds like she has trouble believing it:

    James Strauss Radio Interview

    • Richard Dean Starr

      April 28, 2014, am30 4:40 AM
      60

      Ah, after reading what (I think) is the third version of his “bio”, I see ‘Physician’s Assistant’ was part of the one you linked to.

  • Fake TV Writer James Strauss and his Advisors | Lee Goldberg

    April 28, 2014, am30 10:30 AM
    61

    […] when you thought the story of fake TV writer and convicted conman James Strauss aka James R. Straus couldn’t get any stranger or sleazier…it does. My relentless and […]

  • Norm Cowie

    April 28, 2014, pm30 7:28 PM
    62

    Ha, I had breakfast with Jim Strauss at Love is Murder in Feb 2009 (Pic of us together on this page http://www.normcowie.com/pics.html ).

    I have to agree that he is hurting people, particularly attendees who pay to go to conferences. There were probably three or four concurrent sessions going on, and I chose to go to his (only because my wife was a big fan of House). As Mr. Goldberg points out, much of what was said was inane, but I thought it was because I didn’t understand Hollywood.

    So while I feel ripped off … what hurts most is I lost all kinds of brownie points with my wife when she pointed out Lee Goldberg’s outing of Strauss … still though, it feels sort of cool to have met an infamous ‘bad guy,’ like having met a notorious criminal and survived to brag about it.

  • Norm Cowie

    April 28, 2014, pm30 7:30 PM
    63

    Note: his pic is near the bottom of the page on my website.

  • warren murphy

    April 29, 2014, am30 12:36 AM
    64

    lee, i am so proud to be your friend, because even if youa re the world’s worst pain in the ass sometimes, your record of integrity and professionalism and how ahy it’s all important, is just breathtaking for those of us who have labored in the vineyards….thansk you, my friend.

  • HELLO my name is: Sue Storm « Christine Merrill

    April 29, 2014, am30 4:59 AM
    65

    […] http://www.leegoldberg.com/james-strauss-fake-writing-credits/ […]

  • Bennett Klafter

    April 29, 2014, pm30 8:26 PM
    66

    Lee, he sounds an awful lot like a cross between Brian Galloway and Dylan Swift in your book, “Mr. Monk Goes To Hawaii”. Obviously, neither of them is based on this James Strauss character, but the parallels are still there. Of course they are fictional characters that you brought to life, not a real person who brought a fraudulent real person to the attention of the literary community and exposed him. Although it was a rather Adrian Monkish thing to do ( I can only hope when you advised those folks about his fictional credentials, that you told them , “Drop him from your guest list. You’ll thank me later!”

  • Tony DuShane

    May 1, 2014, pm31 5:51 PM
    67

    Funny, I checked his Facebook account and we have over 200 friends in common.

    Someone has to post this piece to his timeline.

  • Dougie Brimson

    May 2, 2014, am31 3:25 AM
    68

    Bravo! For ages now I have been banging on about this very issue. There are far too many people ‘teaching’ screenwriting who have little or no actual experience of getting things done.

    What amazes me is that no one would ever hire a builder without checking out their work yet people seem happy to not only hire, but give credibility to people who claim to be writers yet are little more than frauds.

  • Buzz Worthy News: the John Green Edition – 2nd May 2014 | Cuddlebuggery Book Blog

    May 2, 2014, am31 7:00 AM
    69

    […] Source […]

  • I hate scammers

    August 9, 2014, am31 11:08 AM
    70

    James Strauss is at it again! He was a speaker at the , sponsored by the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. (He might have also appeared at their 2014 Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp as an instruction, but I haven’t confirmed that.) Here is the description of his performance:

    “Many of you know Jim from his well-received appearance at the WWA Spring & Lakefly Literary Conference earlier this month in Oshkosh. You know Jim is a straight-shooter eager to share his knowledge on writing, publishing, and the Hollywood entertainment industry. Jim’s written five espionage thrillers and has started a prehistory adventure series called Mastodon with the first volume already scheduled to be turned into a film. He writes for several Hollywood production companies and is currently a technical director for a film now in production.”

    Lee, do you know what a “technical director” is? Never heard the term.

    • I hate scammers

      August 9, 2014, am31 11:13 AM
      71

      Sorry, I clicked Post Comment too soon. Trying again:

      James Strauss is at it again! He was a speaker at the May 2014 Spring & Lakefly Literary Conference, sponsored by the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. (He might have also appeared at their 2014 Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp as an instructor, but I haven’t confirmed that.) Here is the description of his performance:

      “Many of you know Jim from his well-received appearance at the WWA Spring & Lakefly Literary Conference earlier this month in Oshkosh. You know Jim is a straight-shooter eager to share his knowledge on writing, publishing, and the Hollywood entertainment industry. Jim’s written five espionage thrillers and has started a prehistory adventure series called Mastodon with the first volume already scheduled to be turned into a film. He writes for several Hollywood production companies and is currently a technical director for a film now in production.”

      Lee, do you know what a “technical director” is? Never heard the term.

      • I hate scammers

        August 9, 2014, pm31 12:06 PM
        72

        Doh! Finally looked up “technical director” and it indeed is a valid job title for movie production, though I have my doubts that James Strauss qualifies for such a position. Sorry for yet another mistake in my post.

  • Terri Moore

    August 30, 2014, am31 11:21 AM
    73

    I am wondering if this is the same man who offered to help me a few years back when I was an author. (T.L. Moore) He found me on myspace and said he wanted to help me make it big and that he had connections that owed him a favor. (Literary agent Susan Crawford) He said my love for the children with cancer touched him.. He seemed like a very nice man, but waited for weeks to hear back from Ms. Crawford after I sent my manuscript to her over night.
    I finally got a reply from her (I guess it was her) and she made it clear that she was an atheist and because I was a Christian she refused to even read my manuscript.
    James said he thought it was a given and he was so sorry.
    Not for sure this is the same man, but he did tell me he was a writer for “House”……

  • Dennis D

    August 28, 2015, pm31 1:21 PM
    74

    James Strauss is also in Ashely Madison. Wonder if his wife knows.

    cc/2014-04-04_downloaded.csv:”99973132″ ADL Media Inc – TDS 149 76430 Y VI 565 24949567 JAMES STRAUSS 7842171 4/4/14 21:49 2368981000 2368981000 Undefined Authorizations Lake Geneva US ANTARESPRODUCTIONS@CHARTER.NET WI 507 Broad Street 53147

  • Doyle Reno

    November 16, 2015, am30 11:54 AM
    75

    I can’t imagine how so many of you could have mistaken James Strauss for a “scammer”. I just visited with him at my art gallery in Santa Fe where he entertained me with a seemingly endless array of stories about how he wrote the screenplay for “The Martian” and how Ridley Scott “f*ucked it up”. Priceless. But it got even more interesting. Apparently he was a “Company Commander” in Vietnam and later worked for 17 years in the CIA. The stories he told. Amazing. But as to the writing I believe I counted five novels and four movies he’s currently involved in. Who could make that up!

    Oh..and by the way..although he funded “The Martian” through his three software companies and numerous publishing enterprises Ridley Scott still got around him to “f*uck it up”. But what really concerned me was the two Air Force transport planes loaded with 22 billion dollars that he witnessed arriving in Baghdad that was handed over to private planes and flown away…my tax dollars!

    His wife stood outside the entire time he spoon fed me the most indigestible line of bullshit dreck I can recall. He’s all yours now.

  • John Mcdermott

    January 13, 2017, pm31 2:55 PM
    76

    I’ve been reading Mr. Strauss’ novel “30 Days Has September”. It is full of technical details that would indicate he either knows what he is talking about or he lifted the writing, wholesale, from someone who did. I know the details are correct, because I was also trained as a Marine artillery officer at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Few writers get it right. On the other hand, I have met at least one other gifted con-man who knew a great deal about police work. Perhaps he is a little of both.

    • David Weldon

      February 2, 2017, am28 6:07 AM
      77

      I’ve also been reading Strauss’s novel. What a crock of BS. The red flags popped up almost immediately in his writings. He claims to have shot a morphine using medic in the butt to get him out of the field. He also claims he killed three members of an all black platoon who were sneaking up at night to try and kill him and follows that with calling in artillery on his own men.

      https://jamesstrauss.com/thirty-days-has-september/

      I served in an infantry unit in 1970-71 in Nam. James Strauss is a lying con man.

  • ET

    March 18, 2017, am31 12:11 AM
    78

    Interesting con man for sure if he is one.
    I’m currently reading on line his 30 day series.
    A few things seem to be inconsistent. But 50 plus years later I suppose some memories can be that way.
    The first few chapters or rather days seemed a bit far fetched. I have a very good friend who was there in 68 as a 2nd lt. And a FO trained at Ft.Sill.
    I to trained at Ft.Sill but in 1960. The fire commands were a bit different then from what he uses but then times change.
    The story is rapidly changing as are his leadership skills in such a few days.
    My friend was a Marine Command Captain , wounded in Nam as a 2nd Lt. ,mustered out as Captain at end of his enlistment.
    Good con men are interesting people. Just don’t get caught up in the “game” 🙂

  • Mark

    August 29, 2017, pm31 5:44 PM
    79

    2017 UPDATE. It wont surprise anyone reading this I am sure, but James Strauss is back at his thievery again. He presently owes us over $5200 for a vacation rental he stayed at in a trip to Hawaii last year(2016). He paid the first portion and left us hanging for $5200 with an invalid credit card. He has been non responsive to all emails, texts, and phone calls(to both of his numbers). I did get some guy on the phone one time who claimed to be “his assistant”. Hmmm. We are debating whether or not to sue him as I am guessing he already probably has a few liens and judgements against himself, and I doubt he owns any property. Does anyone know if he has any assets? I wonder if he is even worth pursuing?

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