Thursday, January 12, 2006

Oprah on Frey Book: 'I Believe in James'


Oprah Winfrey finally chimed in on the controversy surrounding the embattled book that she helped promote into a bestseller, James Frey's addiction memoir A Million Little Pieces, with a surprise phone call into Wednesday night's Larry King Live interview with the author. "What is relevant is that he was a drug addict ... and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves," said Winfrey, dismissing the charges that Frey embellished if not outright falsified episodes in the book as "much ado about nothing" and urging readers who've found inspiration in the author's tale to "keep holding on." "I believe in James," she said. "The book stands on its own." In his own defense, Frey, 36, told King: "The book is about drug addiction and alcoholism. ... The emotional truth is there."

Investigative Web site the Smoking Gun reported this week that Frey's memoir, published by Random House's Doubleday division, was full of exaggerations and inaccuracies. Relying on police and court reports, interviews with law authorities and other sources, the Smoking Gun reported that Frey fabricated portions of his criminal record and, contrary to his claims, spent little time in jail. The site also questions Frey's involvement in a car accident that killed an acquaintance, a key moment in the book. Despite reports that Random House was offering refunds to readers of A Million Little Pieces, the publisher is supporting Frey and his book. "We're standing by our author," a company spokesperson said, according to published reports. After being chosen by Oprah Winfrey's book club in September, Frey's memoir of alcohol and drug-induced mayhem sold 1.77 million copies last year – making it the No. 2 top-selling book of 2005, behind only Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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