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'Running with Scissors': Cut from whole cloth?

Whom to believe?

Augusten Burroughs, who hilariously recounted a childhood full of abuse and insanity at the hands of his foster family in his disturbing, best-selling memoir Running with Scissors? Or the family, which has alleged for three years that Burroughs defamed them, and which has now filed a lawsuit to that effect?

I don’t know who’s right, and Burroughs and his publisher have declined to comment, but I do know that, with the movie version coming out next year, any distortions will only increase. It’s natural for movies to condense events to fit a theatrical running time or create a conventional dramatic arc.

If casting is any indication, writer-director Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) has already made some obvious changes between the book and movie. Annette Bening has taken the role of Burroughs’ unglued mom; Gwyneth Paltrow plays the optimistic Hope, and Vanessa Redgrave pops up as the live-in mental patient Joranne. But unless the slim Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen) wears a fat suit, there’s no way anyone would picture her as Natalie, the doctor’s morbidly obese daughter.

What do you think? Did you love the book? Are you looking forward to the film?

Originally posted August 10 2005 — 9:25 PM EDT

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