Letterman knew Joaquin Phoenix was faking: writer

Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:43pm EDT

Actor Joaquin Phoenix smokes a cigarette at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie ''Che'' during the AFI (American Film Institute) Fest 2008 at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California November 1, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Actor Joaquin Phoenix smokes a cigarette at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie ''Che'' during the AFI (American Film Institute) Fest 2008 at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California November 1, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - David Letterman was in on the Joaquin Phoenix joke, according to one of his writers.

Casey Affleck has claimed that nobody (except for Joaquin Phoenix's agent) knew that Phoenix was faking his bizarre behavior for Affleck's documentary-style film "I'm Still Here," released September 10. But one of Letterman's writers, Bill Scheft, said in an interview last year: "Dave knew about it and Dave loved it because he could play along."

"It was great television," Scheft added. His interview with the independent newspaper Nuvo was dug up Friday in light of Affleck's admission this week that the events in the film were staged. "But I will take credit for the line, 'I think I owe Farrah Fawcett an apology.' That line was mine. I gave that to him during the break." (The actress rambled awkwardly during a 1997 appearance on Letterman's late-night talk show.)

Scheft said he was rebuffed when he tried to expose Phoenix. "I've told people that (everyone was in on the joke), and not only don't people believe me, they tell me that I'm wrong and that (Phoenix) is a schizophrenic and he needs help and he's going to end up like his brother (River, who died of a drug overdose in 1993). I said no. I saw the segment notes. It's an act. I saw Ben Affleck's brother taping the whole thing from offstage."

Affleck admitted to the New York Times Thursday that Phoenix's behavior was staged for his camera: "It's a terrific performance, the performance of his career."

Phoenix, who is considering his next film roles, will return to Letterman's couch Wednesday.

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