Gay Talese and Joan Didion documentaries coming to Netflix

Gay Talese and Joan Didion are well-known writers with bodies of work that are both varied and illuminating. Sometimes their books have proven to be controversial. According to Deadline Hollywood, both writers are subjects of documentaries coming to Netflix.

Talese, who started in the 1960s as a newspaper and magazine reporter, was one of the pioneers of a genre known as either “new journalism” or “creative nonfiction.” Essentially, Talese’s style of writing tells what a traditional reporter would write as a conventional just-the-facts article as a story, nonfiction told in the style of fiction. The style of reportage is sometimes controversial as it can sometimes recreate conversations and even thoughts of the various participants of an event that a reporter could not possibly know. Often the writer becomes a character in the story.

The Talese documentary is entitled “Gay Talese’s Voyeur” based on his most recent book, “Voyeur’s Motel.” The book tells the story of a motel owner named Gerald Foos who Talese said arranged to watch the private moments of his guests through specially designed vents in their rooms. He was said to have been especially keen to watch strangers having sex from an observation platform he had built in the motel’s attic.

The story of Gerald Foos had been under development as a feature motion picture by Steven Spielberg. Spielberg dropped the project when he learned of the documentary and the almost inevitable fact that Foos fabricated the story. The book has thus proven to be the most controversy in Talese’s career.

Joan Didion is a novelist, nonfiction writer, and a screenwriter. Like Talese, her nonfiction writing tends to follow new journalism conventions, telling factual events as a literary story. Her 1984 book “Salvador” is an example of her work in this area. Her novels include “Play it as It Lays” and “A Book of Common Prayer.” The first book was made into as film with a screenplay by Didion and starring Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld.

The Didion documentary, entitled “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” is more a biop of Didion using archival material and interviews with the subject by actor/director and friend and nephew of Didion’s, Griffin Dunne. The documentary will cover quite a bit of Didion’s eventful life, including partying with Janis Joplin and cooking dinner with one of Charles Manson’s women. She also discusses some of the personalities of the 1980s and 1990s and her long marriage with John Gregory Dunne.

Both documentaries will drop on Netflix later in 2017.