Remember recently when M. Night Shyamalan said that he ghostwrote the 1999 Freddie Prinze Jr./Rachael Leigh Cook rom-com “She’s All That”? Maybe not, but you should have at least read and/or heard that tidbit as a buzzworthy factoid by now. Over the past two weeks or so, the rumor has set the interwebs ablaze with “Hmm, that’s interesting/a bit odd/nuts.” With no real reason to doubt him, the media took the faux-teur at his word. And even taking things a bit farther than the film gossip-mill, IMDb changed the writers’ credits on “She’s All That” to give Shyamalan and R. Lee Fleming Jr. (the screenwriter who had the original credit) equal footing. Wikipedia went so far as to claim that Shyamalan was polishing the “She’s All That” script while adapting “Stuart Little” and working on “The Sixth Sense” (although it should be noted that they also misspelled Shyamalan’s name and misused a source). Now, it turns out that there may be yet another twist. How very fitting!
According to the website The Mary Sue, Fleming (whose other writing credits include “Get Over It” and “One Tree Hill”) denied the claim outright on twitter: “@jxmitchell @nicolarz Only in his mind, James.” (The tweet has since been deleted from his account.) If this is the case, why would Shyamalan lie about his involvement? Maybe to drum up publicity for “After Earth”? If so, that is one very bizarre publicity campaign, claiming to have written an unrelated popular teenage rom-com from 14 years ago to promote a bloated father-son sci-fi adventure. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s pulling a Joaquin Phoenix-style hoax on all of us and this could be just part of an upcoming sequel to “The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan”? At this point it's anyone's guess, but again, if it's a lie, it's a pretty random one.
Whether Shyamalan ghostwrote it or not, the next time you watch that scene in “She’s All That” where Rachel Leigh Cook reveals that she can be attractive without those glasses and paint-spattered overalls, you may hear this when Freddie Prinze Jr.’s jaw drops. Now, that’s a twist.