Celebrity Hall of Shame

Disgraced Journalist Julie Amparano, Former Arizona Republic Columnist, has Play in Production

Julie Amparano knows something about creative writing.

The former Arizona Republic writer was fired in 1999 after her bosses accused her of inventing people to quote in her columns. Now her byline's back -- this time on a play featured Sunday at the Arizona Women's Theater's Pandora Festival this Sunday. Here's the synopsis:

Mary fights to hold her family together in the face of her looming death, but her visiting children dredge up tragic, funny and sometimes crazy memories of their upbringing.

Since her star fell at the Republic, Amparano's co-authored a children's book, taught English at Arizona State University West and worked on a Latino-themed Web site (no longer up and running) with her husband. Thanks to the Internet, her bad reputation in the newspaper biz is likely to always precede her.

Naturally, the Arizona Republic didn't breathe a word about its former employee in a recent article about the festival. Amparano is the reason the Arizona Republic's name is mentioned among the many lists and articles on the Internet about the country's most disgraced journalists.

No smoking-gun evidence ever nailed Amparano like it did Jayson Blair and other infamous practitioners of journalistic make-believe. The Republic hired a private eye in an ostensible attempt to prove Amparano's sources were real people, as she claimed, but the suspected fictional characters of her column couldn't be tracked down.

Most memorable was the way Amparano used "Jennifer Morgan" in several of her pieces, describing "Morgan" differently each time.

Maybe someday Amparano will turn her embarrassment into Hollywood gold, like the New Republic's Stephen Glass. Here's our idea for her next script:

Julie fights to hold her journalism career together in the face of its looming death when her imaginary sources show up to relate the tragic, funny, and sometimes crazy memories of their upbringing.