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Oh, lordy: will Michael Bay film James Frey's unpublished sci-fi novel?

June 27, 2009 |  4:09 pm

Michaelbayjamesfrey

According to a stories in the Hollywood Reporter and the NY Times, on Friday Michael Bay bought the film rights to "I Am Number Four," the first book in a sci-fi young adult series purportedly co-written by James Frey. That you haven't yet heard of a book called "I Am Number Four" is no surprise -- it's only a manuscript, and an unbought one at that.

The NY Times writes that the manuscript has been shown to publishers as being written by two anonymous authors, "a collaboration between an unnamed New York Times best-selling author and a young up-and-coming writer." It does not currently have a publisher.

No one is confirming that it's Frey, best known for his non-entirely-true bestselling memoir "A Million Little Pieces." When contacted by the website Gawker -- Frey interned there for a day -- Frey said that he could neither confirm nor deny any involvement with the book.

"I Am Number Four" is said to be the first of a planned six-book series; Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg forked over a high six figures for the film rights. Bay may direct; he may not. After the massive box office of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," he can kind of do whatever he wants.

Anyway, what's the story? The NY Times describes it this way:

The story of “I Am Number Four” is about a group of nine alien teenagers on a planet called Lorien, which is attacked by a hostile race from another planet. The nine and their guardians evacuate to Earth, where three are killed. The protagonist, a Lorien boy named John Smith, hides in Paradise, Ohio, disguised as a human, trying to evade his predators and knowing he is next on their list.

Which doesn't sound like it's trying to be particularly funny, but the aliens-masquerading-on-Earth-as-guys-named-John gag was hysterical in the film "Buckaroo Bonzai."  

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Left: Michael Bay Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times. Right: James Frey. Credit: George Ducker for The Times 

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