Many members of the test audience didn't believe the story was true. They thought no real-life magazine would have so many journalists in their early to mid 20s, even though the New Republic did. A place card added to the opening of the film stated that the median age of journalists working for the New Republic was 26.
Billy Ray initially had a very hard time convincing the real-life Michael Kelly to assist in the production of the movie. Kelly was editor of the New Republic when many of Stephen Glass' fraudulent articles were published, and he was very embarrassed about them. Ray eventually persuaded Kelly to help him by telling him that he was approaching this story as a journalist who wanted the script to be as factually accurate as possible.
Charles Lane, who was the real-life editor of The New Republic, was invited by writer/director Billy Ray to observe filming of some of the movie's scenes. The one scene shot while he was in attendance was the one where the TNR writers bad-mouth Lane behind his back.
In the DVD commentary director Billy Ray says that when Stephen Glass is talking to the class, the text on the blackboard says: "Thought for the day: Experience is the toughest teacher, because she gives the test first and the lesson after".
According to The Dialogue: An Interview with Screenwriter Billy Ray (2007), Billy Ray first came to this project when HBO hired him to adapt Buzz Bissinger's article about the Stephen Glass debacle into a screenplay. While he was writing it, certain HBO executives were fired. By the time he handed in the script, there was a new administration at HBO who "hadn't ordered the script and didn't particularly care about it. So it sat for two years." As Ray continued writing scripts, he eventually decided "it was time to find out if I was grown up enough to be a director." He thought that his adaptation of the Bissinger article would be "a good launching point for me because I knew there was nothing in there that was so craft-dependent that my lack of experience was going to hang me."
When David shows up late in the office to give Stephen Glass some coffee, Stephen's computer screen shows him building a website for "Jukt Micronics." In the DVD commentary, Billy Ray and Charles Lane said he was building the website to cover his tracks for the next day.
In the 1998 'Vanity Fair' article that inspired the film, Buzz Bissinger wrote that Stephen Glass "established himself as the Darth Vader of Detail" as a fact checker. Hayden Christensen made this film between the two Star Wars films in which he portrays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.
The real-life Adam L. Penenberg is now a tenured journalism professor at New York University, the assistant director of the Business & Economic Program and heads the department's ethics committee. He is also an editor at www.pandodaily.com
In the DVD commentary, the real Charles Lane talks about confronting Stephen Glass in front of a restaurant in which Glass claims to have had dinner with people he featured in a dubious article. Lane's comments occur as this confrontation is dramatized in an exterior shot filmed at the actual location of the restaurant in Bethesda, Md. Lane's comments identify the restaurant as "the Original House of Pancakes." But in the shot, a sign inside the restaurant that is visible through the glass front door shows a logo (a chef flipping a very large pancake above a frying pan) and name which correctly identifies the restaurant as part of the national breakfast-and-lunch franchise, "The Original Pancake House".