Creations of a Dangerous Mind?

Chuck Barris, the subject of George Clooney's directorial debut "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", was a phenomenally successful TV producer in America during the 60s and 70s.

His inventions included The Dating Game (aka Blind Date in the UK) and The Gong Show. Prior to TV, he wrote a hit song, "Palisades Park", that was recorded by Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, and in 1974 penned a supposedly best-selling novel, "You and Me, Babe".

At least, that's one version of his life.

The other, if you believe his "unauthorised autobiography", and which Clooney has rather smartly filmed from a Charlie Kaufman script, is that as well as making hit TV shows, Barris was making hits for the CIA.

Barris claims he was recruited and trained by government spooks and, using the cover of chaperone to Dating Game winners, he travelled the world, whacking to order.

Did he really kill over 30 spies on behalf of his country during the Cold War? Probably not, but it made his lifestory a little different from the usual rags to riches pap - it made it pulp.

The renewed attention Clooney's "Confessions" has brought Barris has resulted in the occasional interview. Not surprisingly, he avoids the assassin questions reporters dog him with, insisting he's sworn to secrecy. It's an easy way out and retains the mystery.

After the failure of "The Gong Show Movie" in 1980, Barris claimed to have quit both the CIA and TV and retired to France, partly to escape enemies in the spy business, partly to be free of the gruelling demands of network television.

Now back in the US, he's pleased that "Confessions" has finally hit the screen following numerous false starts. After a succession of personal problems (divorces, the death of his daughter, a near-fatal health scare), Barris has said he wants to write more and plans a sequel to his autobiography.

Whatever entertaining and ridiculous claims he plans to make in that, they are sure to be as dishonest as most other supposedly true celeb memoirs. With any luck.