Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

True Story (6/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 100 minutes.

OK for children.

While Shattered Glass (2003) wasn’t the first time a dishonest journalist has been discovered and exposed, the story of Stephen Glass and the way he fooled his magazine employer, The New Republic with phony stories masquerading as fact resulted in one of the best movies of the 21st century so far.

This is another story of a dishonest journalist, Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), who was asked to write a story about child poverty by concentrating on a single African native and, instead, wrote about what he represented to be a single person but was in fact a composite of many. When his fraud was discovered he was fired by his employer, The New York Times, and was cast into the netherworld, unable to get a job or a gig.

One day he was called and informed that someone in Mexico had stolen his identity. That person turned out to be Christian Longo (James Franco), who was arrested for massacring his wife and three children. Longo wanted to see Finkel. When they met in prison Longo asked Finkel to write his story. With nothing else to do, Finkel felt like this might be his ticket back to acceptability in journalism.

This movie is a semi-thriller in that much of the film consists of Finkel interviewing Longo. The questions are, is Longo telling the truth; does Finkel believe him; and who is using whom? Director Robert Goold said that part of the making of the film was trying to figure out what exactly the true story is.

This film is based on Finkel’s 2006 book. It challenges the audience in that the entire film is flooded with ambiguity. One the one hand we have a dishonest journalist, or is he? On the other, we have a man who apparently killed his entire family, or did he? Whom can we trust?

Franco gives a compelling performance as a likable man who seems to be holding something back. Is he telling the truth or is he manipulating Finkel? Is Finkel now committed to the truth, or is he committed to writing a bestseller that will get him back into journalism, regardless of the truth?

The film is grindingly slow, but it is an interesting enough story that it has potential. The problem is that Hill is not up to the task. He plays Finkel in a bland way. This would really be a great picture if there were someone out there to play Finkel, like Bradley Cooper, who immediately gets your sympathy, but could also exhibit manipulative dishonesty, as Franco does in portraying Longo. Then we’d have two charming but inherently dishonest people going up against each other. That’s a movie I would really like to see. This one, not so much.