May 06, 2014 | 04:39 PMJim Strauss, editor of the Geneva Shore Report weekly newsletter and frequent commentator on local issues, also has claimed to be a writer for television series.
That claim is now being challenged by a California television and novel writer. Strauss has claimed, both online and in person, that he has written for the shows "House," "Deadwood" and "Entourage." Not so, says Lee Goldberg, an author and television script writer living in California. Goldberg, on his blog, leegoldberg.com, accuses Strauss of lying about his television credentials.
Strauss was contacted by John Halverson, editor and general manager of the Regional News, and asked if he would respond to Goldberg's allegations. Strauss declined saying his lawyer had advised against it. "It's painful," he said.
When told the Regional News was writing a story and wanted to hear his side of the story, Strauss replied: "I appreciate that." And then he said goodbye.
Halverson also sent two emails to Strauss' website at email@example.com, giving Strauss another chance to reply.
In one of the emails, Halverson asked Strauss the name of his attorney and whether he is the man in the mugshot (on page 1A).
Strauss' email response came about an hour later:
"Thank you John but the story will be page one in the GSR on Wednesday. It's too good to ignore! A newsman is a newsman."
In his April 23 blog posting, Goldberg said he crossed paths with Strauss at the Love Is Murder mystery writers convention in Chicago a year ago.
In an April 10, 2013, blog posting Goldberg wrote of a speaker at the convention who was apparently lying about his experience in the television industry.
Goldberg wrote that he kept the speaker anonymous out of consideration in his first blog, and now regrets that he did.
He identified the writer as James Strauss.
According to Goldberg, he contacted the Writers Guild of America West and discovered that Strauss had no credits listed with them and was not a member.
Because of Goldberg's inquiry, the guild did some investigating on its own, and then sent a cease-and-desist letter, via email, to Strauss' business email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter, signed by Lesley Mackey McCambridge, WGAW senior director for credits and creative rights, said the guild found no evidence that Strauss wrote for "House," "Deadwood" and other shows for which he claimed credit.
"Your omission from the writing credits on each of these programs is telling, as each of these programs are covered by the WGAW Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement such that the WGAW determined the writing credits on all episodes of each of these series," McCambridge wrote.
McCambridge concluded that since Strauss is not a member of the guild and that his name is not on the credits, it supports the claim that "you were not a writer on any of the above-mentioned programs."
However, McCambridge's letter also states that if Strauss does have any evidence that he was employed as a writer on any of the television shows, such as a writing services agreement, he should bring it to the guild's attention immediately so that he may receive proper writing credit.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, McCambridge said Strauss did not respond to the first letter.
Strauss apparently continued to attend writers conferences as a lecturer claiming to write for television.
A year later, Goldberg called Strauss out by name on his blog, and flatly called him a fraud.
Goldberg claims that some of the things Strauss said about the television writing business didn't sound right.
"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," Goldberg wrote.
Goldberg makes a credible claim that he knows something about the television industry. Among his books is the nonfiction "Successful Television Writing and Unsold Television Pilots." He's also authored the novels "My Gun Has Bullets," "The Walk," "King City," "McGrave," "Dead Space" and "Watch Me Die," which was nominated for a Shamus Award for best novel from the Private Eye Writers of America. Among his television credits are episodes of "Diagnosis: Murder" and "Monk."
On Feb. 14 this year, McCambridge emailed Strauss a second WGAW cease-and-desist letter that closely mirrored the first.
This time, Strauss did reply and McCambridge provided the Regional News with a copy of Strauss's email, dated Feb. 15:
"I am not now and never have been a member of WGA.
"You are an association not a law enforcement agency so start acting like one.
"I did not attend Love is Murder and have no control over what they do, present, or show.
"If you contact third parties with respect to any opinions you have about me or my work, then I will file a lawsuit against you for damaging my ability to work and this is your last warning."
Strauss did not attend the 2014 Love Is Murder convention.
Goldberg claims that he knows many of the writers and producers involved with "House" and "Deadwood," and Strauss is not one of them.
Goldberg reposted his 2013 blog comments on April 23, 2014, rewriting it to include Strauss' name.
His statement can be found at his blog, leegoldberg.com/james-strauss-fake-writing-credits/
Hanley Kanar, who handles programming for the Love Is Murder conference, seemed unconcerned about the dispute over Strauss' credentials.
In an April 30 email she said:
"Neither Mr. James Strauss, nor any of the other featured writers we invite to speak, including Mr. Lee Goldberg, receive any remuneration for attending Love is Murder. Generally we do provide featured writers hotel, air fare and meals. In Mr. Strauss' case, however, since he does not stay at the hotel, nor does he ever charge us for mileage or take most meals, he costs the conference much less than most presenters."
Strauss is a writer and a novelist.
He writes on local topics in his weekly publication, and he authored "The Boy," subtitled "The Mastodons, Book 1," first printing April 2009 by Five Star Publishing.
The 270-page hardcover sells for $82.70 on Amazon.com and for up to $199 on barnesandnoble.com.