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Oprah defends James Frey on Larry King Live

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 11th 2006 10:31PM
James Frey's mug shot - from The
Smoking GunJust finished watching Larry King Live, who had the first interview with author James Frey since the controversy over the truthfulness (or "truthiness," as Colbert would say) of some of the facts in his memoir A Million Little Pieces. During the interview, Frey kept responding to Larry's queries over The Smoking Gun's exposé -- it revealed that some of the book's details about his criminal past were highly exaggerated --  by saying that it was a very small part of a huge book. People are not concentrating on the meat of the book, said Frey, which takes place in a rehab clinic. Frey went on to explain that memoirs generally have embellishments, composite characters, and time compressions, and that it's a subjective story about the author's life, so it's hard to judge it on the facts.

(Embellishments are one thing. I write personal essays, and I know that recalling your personal recollections sometimes makes things come out differently than someone else's recollections. But what Frey did goes a bit beyond tweaking a fact or mis-remembering a detail. He made up a jail sentence out of whole cloth, among other things.)

Oprah Winfrey, who shot Frey's book to the top by recommending it for her book club and was the one person whose reaction every news outlet wanted, called into the show at the very end -- they extended the show for five minutes -- to give her view. While she was disappointed in the controversy, she said that she relies on the publisher to correctly label the books she reads. If they say it's a memoir and it has no disclaimers about embellishments and other story changes, Oprah has to take their word that everything in the book is true. She hopes that the brouhaha doesn't take away from the message of hope and recovery that the book gives its readers, though, and still supports Frey and his career.

So that's that. Oprah's still in Frey's corner. I'm sure he breathed a sigh of relief after her call, because if she had pulled her support, his career would have been sunk.

Overall, an fascinating hour, especially coming from the ol' softball pitcher Larry King. Definitely watch the replays if you get a chance. We'll put up links of the transcript and video when they're released.

(Here's Bob's initial take on The Smoking Gun's article on Frey)

(UPDATE: here's the transcript. Clips are on the CNN web site.)

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many interesting comments on this site. For more good conversation on this issue go to www.allreaders.net

February 24 2006 at 11:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aimee

Ok, I have a few bones to pick. First of all why is James Frey a scapegoat for all the lying author's and writer's of the world? I'm sure tabloids such as 'US' and 'InTouch' say all of their stuff is true. Same with 'Entertainment Tonight' and all those reality shows, right? Many Journalists embellish their stories everyday. Author's EMBELLISH everything to add drama. I think the 'attack' (I say attack only because of the way Oprah treated him on her show on Thursday) on James Frey is over publicised and some what unfair. I do not condone lying in any way, what he did was wrong. But as the mother in the smoking gun report said it is his 'license' as a writer, he is a story teller. I've read the books and really enjoyed them and the word 'memoir' means nothing to me, because you can't trust anything that is that entertaining. And as for Oprah...I think she was right in admitting she was wrong, but didn't she defend him on Larry King saying that the truth doesn't matter? As long as the 'essential truth' is there...Right. I just hope his career isn't ruined, it took alot of guts to get up on national television and confess something like that. I'm sorry for ranting!! I just get so defensive about this because I really liked the books and think that he is getting all this negative attention for something that has become normal and acceptable in today's society. I'm sorry again for going on and on, and I'm even more sorry for James Frey. 'Hold On'

January 28 2006 at 1:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cindy A

Bravo Mike M. I read the first 30 pages, before all the controversy and felt I was being lied to then. His story just didn't ring true. I suspect that there are many more lies than what has been revealed. I too am a recovering addict. Only the truth shall set you free. Addicts are so good at shading things to fit their needs, whether by overstating or understating. There are those that get sober and really change their life and those that are sober, but continue to lie and manipulate. Hey James F! You may be sober, but your not in RECOVERY!

January 27 2006 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike murphy

my hat's off to anyone who can successfully pull off the facade james frey has.i'm a recovering addict who works in and is a director of a hard-core recovery facility to help the most hardened cases of addiction's casualties change attitudes and behaviors .my guys in one day experience more sincere healing by acknowledging the truth about themselves and their pasts,this guy ,frey,obviously had his lunch money taken alot and still has not even resolved that issue as obviously is apparent when a RECOVERING addict creates a fictional history for himself as if there is some prestige in being an ex-con,abusive,foulmouthed and violent.for men who truly have this history or currently have this history there is guilt ,shame or at the very least embarrassment with relief coming only when they acknowledge the truth,make attempts to repair the damage done and change their current attitude towards society.oprah is just another typical political celebrity giving off the pretense of sincerity when in actions she simply covers her ass and does not even acknowledge her part in this sharade so we can definitely expect to see more of this type of hype and watergate type material from herself let alone Frey's small part in the whole event,he's simply a small time punk she's a powerful woman in commerce who has manipulated the masses and refuses to even apologize.if she really wants to do a story on the real mcCoy feel free to pass along my email address and let her know that i'll definitely give my history for alot less than the phony,my records are intact and ongoing ,all {most}people involved are still alive and present and i've been out on a $50,000. bail for the last 2 and a half years,have changed my life and my God has found a way to use my hell filled past to help others change their lives.if that's not appealing we can offer anything from live shoplifters to Canada's most wanted turned Surrey's most trusted member's of society. got the parts ?? contact mikemurphy@telus.net all proceeds will be donated to Surrey House Recovery facility in name of all of my freinds lost to this disease both in addiction and in recovery cause when life's hopes for the future are simply felt to be illusions addicts take their own lives....clean. Oprah ,what kind of damage do you think could possibly be caused by your endorsements ongoing?? defending the lies all in the name of some greater good is like looking to Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk as a hero,he did a B
&E,stole a bag of gold,took advantage of the kindness of the Giant's wife and manipulated her into assisting his robberies by hiding him away from being found out and in the end when he got caught he did'nt admit his mistakes and change his ways...oh no !!! he chopped down the beanstalk killing the giant and leaving his wife a widow. all throughout everyone applauds his bravery and abilitiy to provide for his abusive mother and in the end it is Jack who is known as the hero...kinda like James Frey huh??? Love and respect,Mike Murphy.

January 19 2006 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike murphy

my hat's off to anyone who can successfully pull off the facade james frey has.i'm a recovering addict who works in and is a director of a hard-core recovery facility to help the most hardened cases of addiction's casualties change attitudes and behaviors .my guys in one day experience more sincere healing by acknowledging the truth about themselves and their pasts,this guy ,frey,obviously had his lunch money taken alot and still has not even resolved that issue as obviously is apparent when a RECOVERING addict creates a fictional history for himself as if there is some prestige in being an ex-con,abusive,foulmouthed and violent.for men who truly have this history or currently have this history there is guilt ,shame or at the very least embarrassment with relief coming only when they acknowledge the truth,make attempts to repair the damage done and change their current attitude towards society.oprah is just another typical political celebrity giving off the pretense of sincerity when in actions she simply covers her ass and does not even acknowledge her part in this sharade so we can definitely expect to see more of this type of hype and watergate type material from herself let alone Frey's small part in the whole event,he's simply a small time punk she's a powerful woman in commerce who has manipulated the masses and refuses to even apologize.if she really wants to do a story on the real mcCoy feel free to pass along my email address and let her know that i'll definitely give my history for alot less than the phony,my records are intact and ongoing ,all {most}people involved are still alive and present and i've been out on a $50,000. bail for the last 2 and a half years,have changed my life and my God has found a way to use my hell filled past to help others change their lives.if that's not appealing we can offer anything from live shoplifters to Canada's most wanted turned Surrey's most trusted member's of society. got the parts ?? contact mikemurphy@telus.net all proceeds will be donated to Surrey House Recovery facility in name of all of my freinds lost to this disease both in addiction and in recovery cause when life's hopes for the future are simply felt to be illusions addicts take their own lives....clean. Oprah ,what kind of damage do you think could possibly be caused by your endorsements ongoing?? defending the lies all in the name of some greater good is like looking to Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk as a hero,he did a B
&E,stole a bag of gold,took advantage of the kindness of the Giant's wife and manipulated her into assisting his robberies by hiding him away from being found out and in the end when he got caught he did'nt admit his mistakes and change his ways...oh no !!! he chopped down the beanstalk killing the giant and leaving his wife a widow. all throughout everyone applauds his bravery and abilitiy to provide for his abusive mother and in the end it is Jack who is known as the hero...kinda like James Frey huh??? Love and respect,Mike Murphy.

January 19 2006 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
d

To Nathan Hall, Get over it... James is helping alot of people, And if you have read MFL you would know that james did donate alot of his money to the center that he went to. Peolpe like must have nothing better to do then hate. The man is helping that should be all that matters.

January 17 2006 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JCA

I would like to first start by saying that everyone is entitled to their opinion and thats all that this is, but I belive that James Frey is a hero. Some of you may just look at him as just the rich kid who hit rock bottom and is reaping the benefits of it but if you actaully think about the courage and determination that it took for him to get where he is today, he should be nothing but praised. The fact that James has been fortunate enough to benefit from his struggle is not something he had asked for. His book was written in the hopes of helping people who suffer from addiction. He has been successful in doing that and many people would not have recovered if it weren't for him. He did not ask for this attention nor did he push his book into Oprah's face. She chose and decided that it was worthy of her book club. James should be commended for his countless hours of volunteer work and the many people he has visited in order to get them through their struggle. James had a very difficult time with his recovery it was not easy for him, otherwise he would not have written a book about it. Everyone who is diputing his book is clearly missing the message that James is trying to portray. If you didn't like the book thats fine, but it is completely unnecessary to put a man down for trying to express the pain and struggle he has suffered in his life.
JCA

January 17 2006 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
d

U KICK ASS JAMES !!! Myself and all my friends stand by you and AMLP 100%...... keep on truckin James..!!!

January 17 2006 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kenneth T.

Maybe some of the book may or may not be fictional. Maybe the reason the book was made was to make people aware that these can and do happen to real people. It has moved me and made me change my life and seek help as an alcoholic. A while back I saw an episode of ER with Ray Liotta as an alcoholic.It was a fictional episode but affected me to the point where I was glad to have changed my life. Granted, It wasn't a memoir. But It still carried an imprtant message. And I am sure touched many others as well and created awareness as to the severity of an addiction. As does James Freys book.
My point is it is a good read and thanks James.

January 15 2006 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thomas

I used to be all messed up on drugs and alcohol, and then I found James Frey and Oprah. Now....I'm all messed up on James Frey and Oprah....

January 15 2006 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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