I love Oprah. I can’t watch her show all the time, because… well I just can’t (a recent incident with a pair of boots she had on has kinda set me off the whole “watching her show thing”). But as a powerful black lady…I adore her. As a writer (and a budding capitalist) her bookclub selection is up there with me winning the Pulitzer. I didn’t read the Frey book because I’m not in the least bit interested in any rehab stories, but the story around it… well- let’s put it like this: Michael Jackson was acting up again this week and I didn’t even google it. So here are a few words from me on the spanking she gave this lying sack of….
There’s not enough money in the world for me to be in trouble with Oprah. I’d have been laying on the ground crying and holding on to her feet screaming “Please! Please Miss Oprah!!!! Please don’t be mad at me. I’m so sorry. I’m the worst. Please. I love you so much. It was that lady. She made me do it. She treated me like Miss Millie treated you in The Color Purple. You know how that is. Oh, Lord. I think I’m gonna fall out. Please!!! ARGHHHHHHH!!!!! PLEASE!!!. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. I’ll go pull sex offenders out of cars or playgrounds, or wherever they hole up. I’ll pay more attention to Dr. Phil. I’ll wear the right sized bra. Please don’t relinquish me to a place where Miss Oprah’s light doesn’t shine on me. ARGHHHHHHH!!!!! Sweet Jesus, NOOOOOO!!!!!”
but that’s me.
Excerpts From ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’
The following are excerpts from a transcript of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” from Jan. 26, 2006, featuring the author James Frey and Nan A. Talese, the publisher of his book:
OPRAH WINFREY: I have to say it is–it is difficult for me to talk to you, because I really feel duped. I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers. And I think, you know, it’s such a gift to have millions of people to read your work, and that bothers me greatly. And so now as I sit here today, I–I don’t know what is truth and I don’t know what isn’t. So first of all, I wanted to start with–with The Smoking Gun report titled “The Man Who Conned Oprah.” And I want to know, were they right?
Mr. FREY: I think most of what they wrote was pretty accurate, absolutely. I think they did a good job detailing some of the discrepancies between some of the actual facts of the events and…
Ms. WINFREY: What they said was that you lied about the length of time that you spent in jail. How long were you in jail?
Mr. FREY: I was in jail for–they were right about that, I was in for a few hours, not–not the time…
Ms. WINFREY: Not 87 days?
Mr. FREY: Correct.
Ms. WINFREY: … [W]as there a Lily?
Mr. FREY: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, that–that’s been a question for a long time before…
Ms. WINFREY: Well, the thing that doesn’t make any sense to me is, if you were in jail for 87 days, and you say on page 420 of the book you and Lily are saying goodbye and, ‘I have to go to jail in Ohio and it’s only going to be for a few months and I’m going to write you every day.’ And I have to tell you, James, that when I was reading that book and I get to the last page and Lily has hung herself and you arrived, you know, the day that she hang–was–was hung, and I couldn’t even believe it. I’m, like, gasping. I’m calling people, like, `Oh, my God, this happened.’ So if you weren’t in jail all that time and you’re telling her to hold on, why couldn’t you get to her?
Mr. FREY: I mean, what actually happened was I went through Ohio. I was there very briefly. I went down to North Carolina, where I was living at the time…
Ms. WINFREY: Mm-hmm.
Mr. FREY: …and I was closing up my life there.
Ms. WINFREY: Uh-huh.
Mr. FREY: The process was vastly accelerated from what I wrote in the book. She did…
Ms. WINFREY: I don’t know what that means. What does that mean, “vastly accelerated”?
Mr. FREY: I mean, it happened in a much shorter period of time. And we were planning on meeting up with each other, and–and she committed suicide before we met up.
Ms. WINFREY: I called defending you on “Larry King” because I believed that the essence of the book was true, and at the time, I didn’t know Smoking Gun was true or not, because you had had a strong relationship with my producers and they so believed in you. And we had asked the publisher if this was true when we started to get criticism after the book–after we had announced the book, and the publishers had all told us it was true. So that’s why I trusted you and believed you. But this is–this is the thing. Why would you lie–why do you have to lie about the time you spent in jail? Why did you have to do that?
Mr. FREY: I mean, I think part of what happened with a number of the things in the book is when you go through an experience like the one I went through, you develop different coping mechanisms, and I think one of the coping mechanisms I developed was sort of this image of myself that was greater probably than–not probably, that was greater than what I actually was. In order to get through the experience of–of the addiction, I thought of myself as being tougher than I was and badder than I was, and it–it helped me cope. And when I was writing the book, I–instead of being as introspective as I should have been, I clung to that image.
Ms. WINFREY: And did you cling to that image because that’s how you wanted to see yourself, or did you cling to that image because that would make a better book?
Mr. FREY: Probably both.
Ms. WINFREY: Nan Talese is the publisher and editor in chief of “A Million Little Pieces” and the senior vice president of Doubleday, which is a division of Random House. … Nan is the person who would have overseen the publication of James’ book, which you did, right?
Ms. NAN A. TALESE (Publisher of “A Million Little Pieces”): Correct.
Ms. WINFREY: Correct. And so, Nan, James has admitted that he embellished his memoir. And I–what responsibility do you take in that?
Ms. TALESE: Well, I can only tell you how the book came to me and how I read it. And I read the manuscript as a memoir and I thought it was an extraordinary story of a man with drug addiction, going through hell of both the addiction and the recovery and the process. And I thought the book was absolutely riveting. And you talked about the novocaine and you know, you were implying that perhaps that was a red flag, that the publisher should have said, ‘Hey, this couldn’t possibly be true.’
Ms. WINFREY: Yes!
Ms. TALESE: In fact, I have had a root canal without novocaine, not particularly because of the choice but because of a extraordinary inept dentist.
Ms. WINFREY: OK.
Ms. TALESE: And I’m here and I, you know, it’s really awful. It’s very much as James described it. So I didn’t think that it wasn’t a red flag to me.
Ms. WINFREY: Do you–I don’t know why that wouldn’t be a red flag to anybody, Nan. I’m sorry, even if you’d had it yourself. That whole–the whole book, one of the reasons why we’re all so taken with the book is because it feels and reads so sensationally that it–it–you you can’t believe that all of this happened to one person. When did you realize that James hadn’t told the truth in his memoir?
Ms. TALESE: I learned about the–the jail, the two things that were in Smoking Gun at the same time you did. And I was dismayed to know that. But I had not–I mean, as an editor, do you ask someone, ‘Are you really as bad as you are?’
Ms. WINFREY: Yes!
Ms. TALESE: Because someone…
Ms. WINFREY: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, you do. Yes.
Ms. WINFREY: You never questioned it?
Ms. TALESE: No.
Ms. WINFREY: OK. Because I’m thinking as a reader, up until this moment, sitting on the show, that Lily hung herself. Well, obviously, after all these reports came out, I started to think, `Well, if he wasn’t in jail, if that’s true, and he wasn’t in jail all that time and he was trying to get to Lily, then maybe there wasn’t even a Lily.’
Ms. TALESE: Well, no, I understand that. And I understand the questioning. The tragedy is not in the hanging or slitting her wrists. It’s in the suicide. And I’m not excusing it.
Ms. WINFREY: Let me say this: Eight days after we announced this book, and it had already made the bestsellers list, we were contacted–eight days afterwards–by a former Hazelton counselor challenging the truth of James’s memoir. And our producer told me about it, because this woman is now saying that what James is saying in the book isn’t true. I said, `Well, did she work with James? Was she there when James was there?’ I said, `Well, I–I–I don’t know if what she’s saying is true. What you need to do is contact the publisher. Contact the publisher and ask them if it’s true.’
So, we contacted your representatives, and we were told by them that the claims that this woman was making, we were assured that there was no validity to those claims. And we asked if you, your company stood behind James’s book as a work of non-fiction at the time, and they said absolutely. And they were also asked if their legal department had checked out the book, and they said yes. So in a press release sent out for the book in 2004 by your company, the book was described as brutally honest and an altering look at–at addiction. So how can you say that if you haven’t checked it to be sure?
Ms. TALESE: You know, Oprah, I mean, I think this whole experience is very sad. It’s very sad for you, it’s very sad for us…
WINFREY: It’s not sad for me, it’s embarrassing and disappointing for me. That it’s embarrassing and disappointing to me.
Ms. TALESE: But I don’t–I do not know how you get inside another person’s mind…
WINFREY: Well, this is my point, Nan: otherwise, then anybody can just walk in off with the street with whatever story they have…
Ms. TALESE: But you know…
WINFREY: …and say “this is my story.”
Ms. TALESE: That is absolutely true, and people in publishing and editor…
WINFREY: Well, that needs to change.