James Frey returning to Oprah Winfrey show. Whose team are you on?


Image Credit: George Burns/Harpo Productions/AP Images

Back in 2006, it’s clear that James Frey vs. Oprah resulted in a total KO in favor of the talk show maven. But! Could the tables be turned later this year? Harpo confirms to EW that James Frey is set to return to The Oprah Winfrey Show sometime in May, five years after being publicly scolded and humiliated by Oprah for fabricating parts of his best-selling memoir, A Million Little Pieces. We shouldn’t, however, expect a scene as tense as the one we all witnessed in 2006; after all, Oprah did apologize to Frey for shaming him on TV in 2009. And the author has made quite a rebound since being forced to refund disappointed readers: He’s released the 2008 best-seller Bright Shiny Morning and is the man behind Pittacus Lore, the alien “author” of I Am Number Four. One thing is clear, though: The show will be must-see television. And no doubt you’ve already chosen a side.

Not that it’s easy. Looking back at the 2006 interview, it’s easy to see both at fault. Sure, Oprah seemed overly caustic — especially considering the fact that she had at first stood by the author — but Frey did fraud readers. And those readers include Oprah, who chose Pieces for her book club in 2005. It’s possible that Oprah and Frey will simply laugh about their past during the interview this May, but I’m hoping they dig deeper. I want Frey to talk about how he felt following the interview. I want Oprah to discuss whether she thought she was too harsh looking back at the sit-down. I can’t decide if I’m Team Frey or Team Oprah, but at the end of the day, the selfish TV viewer in me just wants to see some sparks. Is that wrong?

Whose side are you on five years later, PopWatchers?

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Read more:
Live-blogging the Oprah-James Frey smackdown
‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ ends May 25. What’s your favorite Oprah memory?
Oprah’s 12 Most Memorable Episodes

Comments (60 total) Add your comment
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  • xeder

    I thought Oprah did the right thing in 2006 by spanking Frey and his publisher Nan Talese. Frey lied to Oprah, her staff, and her audience so he deserved to be confronted & I really admired Oprah for confronting them face to face on live unedited TV.

    HOWEVER public figures lie to the public everyday about far more important stuff so & get away with it so Frey deserves to be forgiven. Oprah had every right to be mad at the time since it was her he betrayed and I admire her for confronting him at the time, but I’m also happy she’s not holding a grudge over it.

    • Matt

      It’s funny – I read A Million Little Pieces before knowing that it was intended to be read as non-fiction. When I found out that was the author’s original aim I was mystified. Who’d have been fooled by that concocted, corny novel?

      • Mazo

        Seriously. Who wasn’t laughing by the time Leonard the mob guy was introduced? I am unsure how anyone could have read that book without their BS meter going off.

      • guz

        It was actually mostly true. Only a few sections were fabricated/exageratted.

      • Mazo

        Yeah, few important sections. Like his arrest, the girl, the dental work, the mob guy, the judge… minor, minor things.

        Look, he wanted to be published and he couldn’t find a publisher who’d put it out as fiction so he he said it wasn’t. That’s fine. Just cop to it already.

      • WOW

        Oprah’s interns are working overtime today.

      • voov

        Frey’s publicist is working overtime today.

      • Morice

        Harpo is pushing their crew into overtime on this one.

      • lol

        Frey’s publishing house is pushing their crew into overtime on this one.

      • OMG

        The unemployed and bored housewives will be pulling an all-nighter on this one.

      • IMO

        Oprah’s caterers will be working around-the-clock to make her a vat of macaroni of cheese to stay ontop of this.

      • Morice

        Oprah’s Cheetos®-stained keyboard is probably about to overheat in this war of words.

      • Amazing^^^

        Thank you.

      • Class

        The opening scene! No airline would let someone on a plane in the condition he was in.

    • fish eye no miko

      “since it was her he betrayed”

      How did he betray her? It’s not like he asked her to put the book on her list, then get invited on her show, did he? She was no more “betrayed” than anyone else who read is book believing it to be true (which, seeing as it was listed as non-fiction.. yeah…).

  • Samantha

    Team Frey. Oprah is annoying. She thinks too highly of herself and I’ll never understand how she made all of her money. If the book was good enough to be a best seller it was good enough to a best seller as a fiction book. Oprah was two faced about the entire situation.

    • lynnie

      AMEN! It was a great book and the things that were not true in it did not really affect the story of a hardened drug addict trying to get clean.

      • voov

        How much is Frey paying you?

    • UGH

      She stole Phil Donahue’s gig and hypnotized a nation of bored housewives.

      • Erica

        Right? I think it’s funny that she thinks she can command huge advertising dollars for her finale, like she’s the Super Bowl or something. I guess that’s much like her thinking about her “magazine”, which is about 85% advertisements and 15% actual written material.

      • notreally

        Actually she took the genre that Donahue started and transformed it into a huge industry. Once Oprah showed all the money that could be made, the industry exploded with copy cats that really pushed the envelope and broke countless taboos. Oprah really revolutionized the culture for the better. Before Oprah no one discussed their feelings, their sexuality, their abuse. She’s a really a transformative figure

      • UGH

        How much does Oprah pay you?

      • Kiki

        Erica – don’t forget the 5-10% photos of Big O in each monthly

      • BK

        @Erica Show me a magazine that isn’t mostly ads. That’s why they exist.

    • Anne

      i totally agree…everyone fabricates in a book. you add some things to make it sell.

    • ks

      She sure did get a lot of milage (PR) out of this whole thing.

  • Adam

    The details he fabricated were small, no memoirs are ever fully 100% true. Team Frey, but I still love you Oprah.

    • Matt

      They weren’t small. He lied about having a root canal without anaesthetic to make himself look like a badass. The whole book was wish fullfulment. And badly written at that.

      • stew37

        Oooh, that’s the worst! I bet every other memoir contains nothing but absolute fact, and never fib to make the writer look better. The changes were beyond minor, and Oprah’s disgusting flaying of him was ridiculous. She made it all about her (look what you did to ME!!) and had no class. I mean, this was at a time when Bush was lying to get the US into war, and Oprah is so offended by THIS? Give me a break. I don’t think the book was mindblowing, but I understand how memoirs work. As should Oprah. Or else, she shouldn’t have a book club.

      • uh

        I agree that the details he exaggerated were small, but the point you don’t lie to Oprah, because if you do, she’ll drag you back on live TV and beat the living crap out of you and your publisher too. Oprah has the right to discipline her authors anyway she chooses.

    • fish eye no miko

      “The details he fabricated were small”

      He used the death of Melissa Sanders, a high school girl, in his story. He claims they were close, and that he was a witness to her death. In real life, he barely knew her, and was NOT nearby when she died. A real person died, and he turned it into an anecdote to make himself look like a rebel (claiming everyone blamed him for her death). maybe I’m over-sensitive, but I think lying about the death of a real person to make yourself look good (er, bad, whatever) is pretty disgusting.

  • Stan

    I’m for Team Towelie.

    • Charlie

      Oh God, yes!

    • stew37

      You mean, Steven McTowelie?

  • Dgently

    Kate Ward..you write for EW, for God’s sake. Proof read. In the first sentence, use it was, not it’s. Also, could you maybe have mentioned the reason for the visit…that the author is debuting a new book next week, and it’s being lauded as genius.

    • Magnus Confusionius


      – –

      What is the difference between “it is clear that it resulted in. . .” and “it was clear that it resulted in. . .”? Could they both be correct depending on contexts or writers’ perspectives? Or is Kate’s American English sentence in this case simply influenced by Romance languages?

      • Anne

        correct me if i’m wrong but you should not put past and present tense in the same sentence – that makes it worng (it is…resulted)

      • Chey

        Not true, Anne. You could say “It is clear that the interview resulted in…” and be correct. However, in this case, that’s not correct, because the sentence starts with “Back in 2006.” That indicates that in the past, it was clear, not that it is currently clear.

  • deanne

    definitely on team Frey
    the things that he changed in the book were small details. His journey to sobriety was factual. My problem was that Oprah used that book as a way to inspire people to get sober. why slam it after as being a fraud? All those people that were changing their lives may have been discouraged after she shot him down. Not only that, but didn’t she consider that he was a recovering addict? I was worried that shaming him so publicly, without any warning, would really send him down a bad path. Thankfully he was able to move on from it

  • Barrack Obummer

    I think Oprah should be given the heave-ho after this season for so much worthless television.
    Oh, wait. She’s already on her way out to her fledgling network.

    • jex

      I think Oprah’s the best show on TV. It would have to be to stay the #1 talk show for 25 years and make the host a multi-billionaire and the most influential woman ever.

    • Anne

      your name said it all…

  • KC

    I will cringe when I hear “Queen” Oprah yell “Here comes Jaaaaaames Freeeeey!”
    I can’t wait to see her current show end and watch her new network tank and then she’ll drown her sorrows in a vat of mashed potatoes.

    • not

      Her new network is actually doing well now. Perez Hilton just had a story yesterday about how the ratings have been way up the past couple weeks thanks to new shows like the Judds and Addicted to Food.

      • UGH

        Perez Hilton. Hard hitting news there.

  • jt


  • Sue Banks

    i was a huge Frey fan…but trust me…he’s a pain. In the past years, he’s worked to hire writers to pump out books that are published as “his” book…and he convinces them to sign contracts that do not allow them to be given credit for any of their intellectual property. It’s like a deal with the devil that many singing artists made when they signed with powerful record companies when they were young. His ego can go toe to toe with Oprah’s. I think more interesting than her talk show will be BEHIND THE SCENES WITH OPRAH on her network, which I find much more compelling. What is said b/t Oprah and the staff will be the most interesting and I will like to see their off-camera interactions…if there are any.

  • Nicole

    Team Frey, always was. So, he didn’t actually get a root canal without meds…doesn’t change the fact that the book was incredible, fiction or no. He’s a fantastic writer and should be respected for his talent. I understand the controversy, but she could have handled that with so much more class than she did and I still cringe just thinking about her batting him around like a lion playing with an injured mouse on her show. Frankly, I can’t believe he’s going to allow her to try to redeem herself but I’m sure he’ll come out looking like the bigger person in this case.

    • Nina

      Team Frey. I’m not condoning his lies, but it was still a well-written novel and I didn’t care if he lived through that or not. Oprah was embarrassed because she’d fawned over him so much and that was why she went on the tirade.

    • not

      I don’t care if he’s the living reincarnation of William Shakespeare. You don’t lie to Oprah. He can lie all he wants on Larry King, The Today show, and all the other shows he went on, but you don’t lie to the hardworking stay at home moms who watch Oprah because they are the foundation of America. You lie to Oprah and her fans and she will spank the living daylights out of you on live TV no matter how talented you are.

  • TorontoTom

    I predict it will be an retrospective episode about the Oprah Book Club with short segments from many different authors. Frey will appear for about 4 or 5 minutes and everyone will be cordial and nicey-nice. No controversy here.

  • Elisabeth

    I’m on team Frey, he’s a family friend and got my sister a job in 2005. We felt really bad for him when Oprah slammed him on her show.

    I loved John Stewart’s take on the outrage, he said something like…”James Frey, how dare you use lies to force us into a book we had no business reading!”

  • Mazo

    I really can’t believe anyone other than the Frey family is on Team Frey. People love getting lied to, I guess.

  • KC

    Glen Frey IS The Eagles.

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