Once upon a time, old Aesop told the story of a little shepherd boy who passed the time with trickery. He would cry wolf, claiming that the hairy beast was attacking his flock of sheep. The villagers would come to the shepherd's aid, only to find that their time was wasted by his amusements. Alas, one day, the time came when he was under attack, and when he cried wolf, no one came to help.

Aesop's old fable comes to mind when parsing through the new war between Charlyne Yi ('Knocked Up','Paper Heart') and TMZ. As Yi tells it, she agreed -- against her better judgment -- to team up with TMZ to help Oxfam with a new video. The footage was then morphed into a news piece framing her as just another crazy actress, spinning her efforts into lame gossip rather than thoughtful help for the charitable organization.

But coming after 'Paper Heart' -- the "documentary" that still has its viewers wondering where truth ended and fiction began -- some are wondering: Is this just another hoax?

Mocking Oxfam volunteers is definitely an unusual theme for a hoax, but let's go with this. As Yi explained on her Tumblr, she's been working with Oxfam to feed the hungry and was asked to hit the streets to get the word out. TMZ, in turn, would film it as Yi promoting a good cause. Though she was against it, the organization convinced her because of the exposure the match would offer.

The footage was framed as sensational gossip, in true TMZ form, and Yi says: "I am disappointed in the humans working for TMZ, and with myself for not going with my instincts and now -- I've associated myself with TMZ who have truly proved themselves to be immature and pathetic -- making fun of something earnest and editing out the truth -- to make an attempt to help people look dumb." She even made a video:



But here's the twist: While it looks like a prime example of asshattery, Urlesque wonders if "this is all part of a big meta-joke and they're in on it together." This theory is mainly born from the fact that TMZ didn't put it online, and how would she get it before it was posted? A reader at Jezebel thinks she saw the segment on TV, which could be why, but there's definitely confusion in the air. An anonymous tip was sent to Videogum by a "close friend" of Yi's, "confirming" (if you can ever think to call anonymous banter confirmation) that the "TMZ incident was real," but that's hardly trustworthy.

So here we stand. Yi definitely has her own brand of humor and isn't beyond playing with notions of truth for her work. But would she, TMZ and Oxfam take it to this extreme?

Charlyne Yi v. TMZ: Real or Fake?