Sam Mendes Scraps His Gay Talese The Voyeur’s Motel Film

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Sam Mendes. Photo: Carlos Alvarez/2015 Getty Images

Gay Talese has a (stone) cold (deal). DreamWorks has bought the rights to Gay Talese's The Voyeur's Motel, which is set be directed by American Beauty and Skyfall's Sam Mendes and produced by Steven Spielberg. The book, excerpted in The New Yorker earlier this year, was released in July. It traces Talese's decades-long correspondence with Gerald Foos, who opened a hotel in Colorado so that he watch guests have sex; in the process of doing just that, Foos became complicit in a murder. In the course of reporting the story, Talese also became entangled in Foos's not-quite-legal activities, and he's been criticized for protecting his source rather than turning over information to the police. Since Spielberg's involved, the journalist can probably look forward to being played by Mark Rylance.

Update, November 27: Alas, the Rylance dreams are a no-go. Mendes's The Voyeur's Motel film plans have been completely dropped by DreamWorks due to a documentary on the same subject being pursued by filmmakers Myles Kane and Josh Koury. Their documentary had, apparently, been in production for an extended period of time without Mendes's knowledge, and also had unlimited access to both Talese and Foos. "Nobody told us about [the documentary]," Mendes told Deadline. "Nobody told DreamWorks, nobody told me. It was going on all that time; they had been making the documentary for at least a year before the publication of the book, which is one of the reasons it's such a strong piece of work. But nobody ever told us, simple as that, which clearly is frustrating. It's difficult to talk about it without giving away what is so wonderful about the documentary, but it has so many things that are wonderful and can only be achieved by a documentary." At least he has more time for James and the Giant Peach, then.