Telling Lies in America

Telling Lies in America is a 1997 coming-of-age drama film directed by Guy Ferland and written by Joe Eszterhas.[2]

Telling Lies in America
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGuy Ferland
Produced byFran Rubel Kuzui
Ben Myron
Written byJoe Eszterhas
Music byAndy Paley
CinematographyReynaldo Villalobos
Edited byJill Savitt
Distributed byBanner Entertainment
Release date
  • October 15, 1997 (1997-10-15) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million[1]
Box office$318,809


Karchy Jonas is a 17-year-old high-school student (who emigrated from Hungary 7 years earlier) trying to find his way in the world. He meets radio personality Billy Magic who takes him under his wing. However, authorities are after Billy for accepting payola from record companies to give their songs air time. Billy picks Karchy as when he figures out Billy cheated to win his radio contest, he figures Karchy would be perfect to associate with Magic's scam. Karchy does so, not realizing that this may jeopardize him and his father's U.S. citizenship. He pursues a co-worker at a local grocery store where he works, only to find out she was engaged all along. Karchy idolizes Billy only to find out how corrupted, bitter and cynical he truly is.



Eszterhas wrote the film in 1983 under the title Magic Man but could not sell it. Later on his second wife read the script and suggested he revisit it. "It was so moving, so good, I couldn't believe it hadn't been made," she said. "I thought it was too good to be sitting on a shelf. I thought the relationship between Karchy {the protagonist} and his father wasn't entirely worked out."[1]

Eszterhas rewrote the script and sold it to Banner Entertainment. The writer gave up his $100,000 fee so Max Schell could play a role.[1]

According to the website Splitsider, actor John Candy was considered for the role of Billy Magic.[3]


Telling Lies in America received mixed to positive reviews from critics. It holds a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10.[4] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5]

Home media

The film was released as part of a Blu-ray Disc double feature with Traveller from Shout! Factory on May 25, 2012.


  1. Waxman, Sharon (October 25, 1997). "Sleazy Writer". Washington Post.
  2. Holden, Stephen (October 9, 1997). "FILM REVIEW; 60's Payola Is His First Taste of America". The New York Times.
  3. Evans, Bradford (2 June 2011). "The Lost Roles of John Candy". Splitsider. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  4. "Telling Lies in America (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  5. "Telling Lies in America Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 5, 2018.

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