Scott Johnson: Where is the Con Queen of Hollywood Author Now?

As a docuseries living up to its title in every way conceivable, Apple TV+’s Chris Smith-directed ‘Hollywood Con Queen’ can only be described as an original production unlike any other. That’s because it’s based upon journalist Scott Johnson’s 2023 book ‘The Con Queen of Hollywood: The Hunt for an Evil Genius,’ wherein he explores everything about this matter in detail. Whether it be his path to coming across the scam in the first place, identifying this Indonesian impostor/perpetrator Hargobind “Harvey” Tahilramani, or his time interviewing him, he tells all.

Who is Scott Johnson?

Although born into a relatively stable household on July 31, 1973, in the US, Scott actually grew up across the globe following his parents’ divorce when he was around 6 years old. The truth is he’d wound up staying with his father, which resulted in them residing in places like India, Pakistan, and Yugoslavia for a few years each before the former finally learned a secret. “It was really exhilarating,” he candidly conceded in the aforementioned show. “We were kind of off on this big adventure. But what I didn’t know was that my dad was a [field] spy for the CIA.”

It was Scott’s father himself who’d apparently told him everything when he was 14, driving the youngster to kind of become enamored with this idea of danger, deception, as well as duplicity. After all, he realized he’d unwittingly helped a CIA agent maintain his cover since he was a kid, and the fact he’d always been told to keep his story straight also began making more sense to him. Nevertheless, instead of following in his father’s footsteps, he ultimately chose to pursue his passion in higher studies — he earned a Bachelor’s in literature from the University of Washington.

Scott actually graduated in 1996, shortly after which he kickstarted his journalism career as an intern at Newsweek Magazine’s Paris bureau before gradually evolving into a Special Correspondent. It was here that he got the opportunity to cover a wide range of topics, only for it to soon result in him becoming their top foreign correspondent — he covered everything from European agriculture to the brutal invasion of Afghanistan to the entire range of Iraq news. In fact, according to records, in the many years he served at Newsweek Magazine as a reporter executive or as Bureau Chief for different areas, he traveled to cover cases from over fifty countries.

Though little did Scott know that he was inadvertently embodying his father in some way because, as he said in the documentary, “The CIA actually commissioned a study one time, where they tried to figure out what job in the civilian world corresponded most closely to the job that my father had, which was a case officer. That job was foreign correspondent, which is what I was for many years.” But then came 2010, and he shifted gears a little by landing a spot at California Endowment as a Violence Reporting Fellow to expose the traumas in the disadvantaged communities of this region.

During this period is when Scott also penned his memoir, ‘The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, A Son, and the CIA,’ which even placed on the renowned Long List for the National Book Award. What followed was his decision to evolve into a freelancer, just to get chances to write for Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, National Geographic, plus several other publications, all the while getting to travel for assignments too. However, by the time May 2015 rolled around, he’d settled as a Senior Writer for The Hollywood Reporter, unaware he’d break the Hollywood Con Queen case wide open in 2018.

Scott Johnson is Still Writing Today

The reason Scott actually became quite attached to the Hollywood Con Queen matter and the impersonator mastermind behind this scam is that it resonated with him. “So, there were aspects of [Hargobind “Harvey” Tahilramani’s] story that resonated with my own self-conception,” he admitted in the original production. “This idea of the masks that we wear and the lies that we tell. But Harvey’s lies and his sort of forays into transformation took on these really grotesque forms and became altogether sadistic and warped. That drew me to the story in a way other scams might not have.”

As for Scott’s current standing, despite the fact he parted ways with The Hollywood Reporter in March 2020 after nearly five years of dedicated service, he continues to be a proud journalist. The only difference is he’s not associated with any particular publication anymore, meaning this ‘The Con Queen of Hollywood’ author is a self-employed author plus a freelance reporter at the moment. However, it’s also imperative to note the Seattle, Washington resident is also a family man; whenever he’s not running after a story, he’s at home or traveling to spend quality time with his cancer-fighting wife and their two kids.

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