It’s no secret that M. Night Shyamalan had a hand in the making of She’s All That, a teen classic released in 1999. Interviews with the Sixth Sense auteur dating back to at least August 2002 have noted this trivial nugget; the movie’s audio commentary also features director Robert Iscove saying that Shyamalan polished up the movie’s script. (Granted, 99.99999 percent of human beings have not listened to director Robert Iscove’s audio commentary for She’s All That — but the .00001 percent who have are avid IMDb users.)
Somehow, though, it took a May 29 interview with Movies.com for the Internet at large to learn about Shyamalan’s connection to the Freddie Prinze Jr./Rachael Leigh Cook rom-com. An additional two weeks passed before that tidbit — Shyamalan saying, “I ghost-wrote the movie She’s All That” — really started to circulate, leading to breathless write-ups on every entertainment website staffed by nostalgic ’90s kids. (So, basically every website.)
Except, wait! As The Daily Dot pointed out Thursday, She’s All That‘s credited screenwriter, R. Lee Fleming Jr., has claimed that Shyamalan was lying about his work on the film. Last week, when Twitter user James Mitchell wrote “OMG, at the end of his career, it turns out he was a ghost writer all along #spoileralert” — referring to Shyamalan — Fleming responded with this (since-deleted) tweet:
“Only in his mind, James.”
More recently, Fleming also tweeted (and deleted) a telling quote attributed to (but, ironically, probably not actually written by) Mark Twain: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
So who’s right? Both writers, according to movie producer and NYU adjunct professor Jack Lechner, who served as Miramax’s head of development in the late ’90s. As Lechner explained in a comment left at The Mary Sue on Monday, “R. Lee Fleming wrote the script we bought, which is recognizably the same movie you saw (if you saw SHE’S ALL THAT). M. Night Shyamalan did an uncredited rewrite on the script, and a very good one that got the movie green-lit.”
EW called Lechner just to make sure the comment was legit — and after confirming that he wrote it, he reiterated that Shyamalan “did more than a polish” on the movie’s script: “He did a solid rewrite … He made it deeper, made the characters richer.” Before you scoff, remember that there’s a reason people still care about She’s All That 14 years after its release.
“I can see how Fleming would say it’s his movie, and I can see why M. Night would say it’s his movie,” Lechner continued. “They’re both right.”
Glad we cleared that up! Next on the agenda: Did the producers of 10 Things I Hate About You purposefully cast both Robin and the Joker, or what?