When Entertainment Weekly this summer put 18-year-old Riley Weston on its “It List” of the 100 most creative people in entertainment, the magazine had no idea just how creative Weston really was.
As it turns out, the teen writer on the WB netlet drama “Felicity” is no teen at all. She’s a 32-year-old actress who legally changed her name and apparently misrepresented herself to two different talent agencies, co-workers and Disney, the studio that recently signed her to a six-figure overall deal.
Entertainment Weekly wasn’t the only publication duped, though. Weston’s agents at UTA and Touchstone TV each confirmed for Daily Variety details of Weston’s background that appeared in a story published Oct. 6. According to court documents subsequently obtained by Daily Variety, those details were false.
UTA and Weston’s former reps at the William Morris Agency had no comment. Weston, her attorney, Joel McKuin, and her manager, Brad Sexton, did not return phone calls seeking comment, but a Disney spokeswoman said, “We’re looking into the matter.”
Arrived at 16?
UTA agents less than two weeks ago told Daily Variety that Weston had arrived in Hollywood at age 16 to pursue an acting career and had just recently turned 19. They went on to say that Weston didn’t like the material she was auditioning for, so she decided to begin writing roles for herself.
According to a petition for name change filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in May 1997, however, Weston was really born in 1966 and is an actress who changed her name from Kimberlee Elizabeth Kramer to Riley Elizabeth Weston. Kramer’s credits include the Disney-produced film “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.”
The reason Kramer listed in the court papers for her name change was “entertainment business.” But after making the legal change, Weston represented herself as a teenager born in 1979, according to numerous sources who dealt with her.
In Weston’s interview with Entertainment Weekly, she compared herself to the lead character in “Felicity,” a young woman leaving high school and going off to college in New York. “In many ways, I am Felicity,” Weston told EW. “So I hope to portray this generation in a realistic light.”
Those who dealt with Weston say her age and her so-called “wunderkind” status were, in fact, used as major selling points. Kristi Kaylor, a senior vice president of creative affairs at Pacific Motion Pictures, who was initially attached as a producer to Weston’s TV script “Holliman’s Way,” said she felt “conned.”
“Yes, she told me she was 18. I thought she was this little genius,” Kaylor said. “In negotiations, her attorney said, ‘Please don’t stand in the way of this poor 18-year-old’s career.’ She conned everybody.”
Kaylor said she’s upset by the situation because “I introduced her to Showtime, to MTV — I put my reputation on the line.”
Weston is no longer a writer on “Felicity,” but sources say the reasons for her departure from the show had nothing to do with her misrepresentation. Weston actually acted in an episode of “Felicity” that taped Tuesday and Wednesday.
Weston’s decision to hide her age is being downplayed by some sources as a typical scenario in the youth-obsessed entertainment business. Kaylor’s attorney, Nancy Derwin, sees the situation as more serious, though.
“If a woman is willing to misrepresent herself, how do we even know her work is really her own writing?” Derwin asked.
Imagine TV, which produces “Felicity” in association with Touchstone TV, declined to discuss any plans for dealing with Weston, but issued a statement about the flap.
“Riley Weston was hired as a staff writer on ‘Felicity’ based on her writing talent and unique perspective we felt her age and life experience would allow her to bring to her creative role on the show. The recent accusations concerning Riley’s background are a complete surprise to all of us, and if proven to be true, we will be disappointed and shocked.”
(Doug Galloway contributed to this report.)