Author Gay Talese Disavows His Upcoming Book, 'The Voyeur's Motel'

The Washington Post discovered holes in the story of self-admitted voyeur Gerald Foos, who is at the center of the book, which DreamWorks has planned to turn into a film directed by Sam Mendes and produced by Steven Spielberg.
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Gay Talese

In a dramatic statement that’s sure to send shock waves rippling from the publishing world to Hollywood, noted author Gay Talese has disavowed his upcoming non-fiction book The Voyeur’s Motel, telling The Washington Post that he no longer believes the story told him by Gerald Foos, who claimed to have spied on guests at his Colorado motel from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s.

After the Post discovered that contrary to the account he provided Talese, Foos sold the hotel in 1980 and did not reacquire it until 1988, Talese told the Post, “I should not have believed a word he said. I’m not going to promote this book. How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet.”

The Voyeur’s Motel is scheduled to be published by Grove Press. It was excerpted in April by The New Yorker, and the creepy tale immediately caused a sensation. DreamWorks snapped up the property, with plans for Sam Mendes to direct a film version produced by Mendes and Steven Spielberg.

One of the fathers of the new journalism during the 1960s, Talese has prided himself on his heavily researched non-fiction that often reads like a novel, and he based his account on journals that Foos, now 82, kept as he managed a hotel with a hidden walkway that allowed him to spy on his guests. The New Yorker excerpt contained detailed accounts of Foos’ voyeuristic acts based on the journals and Foos’ own testimony.

While, the Post noted, most of the events described in the book occurred in the 1970s, Talese’s story also included events that took place the 1980s that have now been called into question. Said Talese, “The source of my book, Gerald Foos, is certifiably unreliable … I did the best I could on this book, but maybe it wasn’t good enough.

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out for comment to Talese, Grove Press, The New Yorker and Dreamworks about the future of the book and film.