Oprah gives James Frey another shot

115144__frey_lFor those of you who were disappointed by Oprah Winfrey’s shoulder-shrugging defense of James Frey on Larry King Live two weeks ago, she and Frey will have another chance to apologize staunchly defend themselves in a live broadcast today. Frey, his editor Nan Talese, and journalists familiar with the A Million Little Pieces controversy will be on hand for the discussion. I wonder if anyone will address Tuesday’s New York Times report that a staffer at the Hazelden clinic had warned Oprah producers about Frey’s alleged fabrications before she had him on her show the first time.

So far, my favorite comment about this whole thing has come from The Late Late Show‘s Craig Ferguson, who expressed surprise that anyone has been surprised to learn that a former addict may be a fabricator. Said Ferguson: ”They lie their asses off. That’s what junkies do.”

Comments (23 total) Add your comment
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  • karen

    the man’s only addiction is attention.

  • karen

    i just read the live blog at gawker: apparently, frey told oprah/some producer/someone that he had a gun back stage. oprah, at the end of her show, said that she hoped he was joking (aka lying about that, too). maybe he did intend to finally do something crazy on live tv that would legitamize his “look at me, i’m so f***ed up!” pose. but i’d put money on the gun thing being another lie. (oh, and he likes to call lies “mistakes”.) boy, it sounds like oprah really is pissed and embarrassed about all this.

  • hig

    I still don’t understand what the big deal is. There’s more truth in this memoir than most memoirs I’ve read. What about all the historical distortions in the Da Vinci code, which had fictional characters set in a factual world. Distorting history is a far bigger deal that exagerating how much time you spent in jail.

  • karen

    hig, the da vinci code is just a bad novel. why bring it up? dan brown was not distorting history; he was simply using texts that aren’t necessarily taught in catholic school.
    the entire “memoir” is a great big lie. and it’s a testament to a culture that watches reality tv as if it depicts reality and has a “creative non-fiction” shelf at barnes & noble. if he had half the problems he claims to have had, the recounting of anything in the book would be impossible. it’s far beyond the jail time issue – and if you’re not reading all that has been exposed in the past few weeks, then you have no reason to comment. if it’s not a big deal to you, stop thinking about it. the only thing the da vinci code and frey’s books have in common is that they are all poorly written.
    speaking of opinions, mary karr wrote a great op-ed piece in the new york times several days ago about frey and how she goes about writing her memoirs (no quotation marks).

  • sarah

    oh my god….who freaking cares???? its a good book. period. why is everyone giving this man so much free publicity…all that will happen is that he will sell more books. besides, the only way anyone’s memoir would be 100% factual is if the person had a note pad and pen with them for their entire life. get over it folks, you too oprah.

  • karen

    i don’t particularly mind this discussion. sarah seems like the perfect pawn for the general media. i have to roll my eyes when laypeople use words like “publicity” and “ratings” (when regular people use them, they are quite simply turning the camera to the monitor). regarding the “100% factual” thing – if only the a.d.d. generation cared about facts at all… thanks for representing your point of view.

  • Ned

    He waited a couple of hours at a police station for his parents to come pick him up, and he turned that into 3 months in jail, described vividly. He admitted to Oprah that he made up events and people throughout the whole book.
    The big deal is that he claimed this was his true story, and other addicts could benefit from his experiences. In the book, he poo poos treatment programs, telling people to “just hang on” without joining a group for support. That may be all well and good for somebody with a relatively minor problem, like him, but for somebody going through the full blown, hellish addiction he described in his book, it’s not realistic at all. He has helped ruin lives with this book, any major addict that was “inspired” by his book to quit their support group, and then relapsed, should sue him to high heaven.
    James Frey is human garbage.

  • Jill

    Thanks, Ned. Well put.

  • James

    I think he is a fraud. Maybe it is not illegal to write one way, promote another, but as far as the case for it (the book) being well-written…well, it’s not literature, but a really well-paced, highly descriptive film script with moment to moment present-simple tense action that engages you; but it is only venerable if he actually lived it (that is why “memoirs” can be so much more engaging, right? without the component of truth, he loses the intensity of the story, the interest.) So in my ming he sold himself out to publish a book, then further embelished his story on Oprah to appeal to millions of people who are just dying (and set-up exclusively for it) to bestow “compassion” on a reformed male. He’s a liar at best. Who would want to read the Friend Leonard sequel now?

  • kj

    bad move to make oprah mad…especially to the point of her admitting she’s embarassed and has betrayed her audience. to be honest, he seemed like a fraud on the first show…and i didn’t care for the book at all.

  • djm

    I am glad that he FINALLY admitted that he lied on her show today – now we can all move on. I haven’t read the book, but I do know a little about recovery programs (a family member of mine invited me to participate in her rehab group) and I really believe in the power of them. I know that everyone is different and that what works for one person may not work for another, but it seems REALLY irresponsible of him to create this huge lie and then encourage people that seriously need help to follow his lead. It is really easy to use the excuse of “well, he’s an addict, so we should have expected him to lie”, but I think he needs to be held responsible for his actions. He should have to pay back EVERY cent he made on this book and be forbidden to publish anything ever again.

  • gloria

    Interestingly, Frey referred to the “characters” in his book during today’s appearance on Oprah. Characters, by their very nature, are merely constructs of the author’s imagination. This tells me that his deception was premeditated, not some accidental misremembering. James Frey sensationalized events to make money. Period. Oprah is guilty of trusting him, and his publisher is guilty of doing what they’re supposed to do – sell books. Oprah’s fallibility need not obviate her positive impact. Let’s hope that James Frey’s deceit does not prevent her future endorsement and deprive other authors of that benefit. We must remember that Oprah inspires her viewers to read books, and increased interest in literature has far-reaching benefits.

  • Brandelar

    Guy lied,period.Book is very good.If you saw him on King
    Frey mentioned Hemingway,Kerouac,Etc.Difference was those books are novels.My opinion was they should’nt of had so many people on they show to hate on him.When the one “Professor” made the Hallie Berry comment he should have been tossed,it was T-off time on Frey and like him or hate him,it took guts to go on a show that he knew was a lose-lose situation. O’s producers knew he was shady and still had him on.People say he should give the money back,but my question is simple:Anybody lied on a Resume or had a “Co-worker” instead of boss as a referance? I know the answer is yes,are you going to give back Salary/Bonus/401K? Exactly

  • krosstx

    It’s not the fact that he made stuff up or “fabricated” parts of his book. It’s the fact that he said it was all true. If he had said in the beginning that parts of his story was exaggerated it would give him more credibility.

  • Ali

    Wow, Ned – are you perfect? The guy made a mistake – he came forward and said so. Let’s all move on – especially Oprah, please.

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