We were actually going to do a live-blog of "memoirist" James Frey's appearance last night on Larry King but, if you saw the program, you understand why we couldn't bear to put forth the effort. To put it mildly, it may have been the most uncomfortable, uninformative, painfully banal hour of television to which we've ever been subjected. When he wasn't nervously sipping from his coffee mug every two seconds (surely that thing was empty after 10 minutes), Frey deftly handled hardball questions. For example:
KING: You a bad guy?
FREY: Am I a bad guy?
KING: Were you a bad guy?
FREY: I mean, I don't think I was a bad guy. I think I was a flawed person, you know. I think to this day, I'm a flawed person, you know. I've made a lot of mistakes over the course of my life, and I'll continue to make mistakes over the course of my life. You know, I think I'm a real person, and I am a person who feels and who does the best he can.
Riveting. Exactly the sort of need-to know information we were looking for. And, because Frey couldn't once just say, "Yes, Larry, I totally made up certain details and I'm sorry," his freaking mother, bless her heart, came on the show to talk about how proud she is of her son — that is, when she wasn't acting completely starstruck:
KING: How did you know be there [in the Oprah audience the day Pieces was selected]?
L. FREY: Well, James called and he knew one of my dreams was to just be in the audience.
KING: You had no idea it would...
L. FREY: ... None. I thought I was there for William Faulkner book club. And then Chris Rock and LeBron James were on, and they happened to be people I like.
It was at about this point that James' eyes glazed over ("Quit embarrassing me, Mom") — but, alas, he didn't bust out the crackpipe. After the jump, Frey is redeemed by a "surprise" caller.
KING: I'm going to hold the show a little longer because I understand we have Oprah on the phone. Let's see what she has to say. Are you there, my friend?
WINFREY: Hello, Larry, how are you?
KING: Hello, dear one, how are you doing?
WINFREY: I'm good. Watching James and Lynne. Hi, James. Hi, Lynne.
FREY: Hi, Oprah.
OMG, it's OPRAH! OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG WE LOVE YOU OPRAH! Shriek!
WINFREY: I wanted to say because everyone's been asking me to release a statement. I first wanted to hear what James had to say and I didn't want to have that colored by any personal conversation that I had.
As he said, he's had many conversations with my producers, who do fully support him and obviously we support the book because we recognize that there have been thousands and hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been changed by this book.
So the truth is this. I read and recommend books based on my connection with the written word and its message. And, of course, I am disappointed by this controversy surrounding "A Million Little Pieces," because I rely on the publishers to define the category that a book falls within and also the authenticity of the work.
So, I'm just like everybody else. I go to the bookstore. I pick out a book I love. If it says memoir, I know that — that maybe the names and dates and the times have been compressed, because that's what a memoir is.
And I feel about "A Million Little Pieces" that although some of the facts have been questioned — and people have a right to question, because we live in a country that lets you do that, that the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me. And I know that it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book and will continue to read this book.
And, you know, one of the things James says in the book, for all the people who are going through any kind of addiction, is to hold on. And I just wanted to — you know, I have been calling this number and it's been busy, trying to get through to say to all those people out there who have received hope from reading this book, keep holding on, because the essence of that, I don't doubt.
Whether or not the cars' wheels rolled up on the sidewalk or whether he hit the police officer or didn't hit the police officer is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is that he was a drug addict who spent years in turmoil, from the time he was 10 years old, drinking and — and tormenting himself and his parents.
And, out of that, stepped out of that history to be the man that he is today, and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves. That's what's important about this book and his story.
KING: One quick thing, Oprah. So, therefore, you hold him no ill will, have no less regard and still recommend the book?
WINFREY: Yes. Yes. What I think is, is, this is going to open up the discussion for publishers. And you know, as you know, I recommend books and have been for a long time. And, for me, the bigger question is, what does this mean for the larger publishing world in the entire — in this memoir category, because, as James was saying earlier, this is a new category?
And I feel that, you know, that this discussion will be furthered by the so-called controversy. To me, it seems to be much ado about nothing, because if you have read the book, as James has said here, that I don't know what percentage.
But so much of the story, the majority of the story is inside the clinic. And so whether he — I think the next book, which I have not read, read, James, my friend Leonard (ph), is — is more about the months, the time he spent in jail. But — but that, to me, is irrelevant in this story.
KING: Well, Oprah, I really appreciate you calling. And I know — do you want to say something, James?
FREY: I admire you tremendously and thank you very much for your support. And, you know, it's — I'm still incredibly honored to be associated with you, and I will for the rest of my life. Thank you.
KING: So, it's still an Oprah recommend, right?
WINFREY: Well, I certainly do recommend it for all for — well, for all of the people out there.
KING: Be well, Oprah. Thanks for calling in.
WINFREY: Thank you, James. Thank you, James, and Lynne, and you, too, Larry, my friend.
L. FREY: Thank you, Oprah. We love you. Thank you.
Yes, Oprah, thank you — you just totally saved this man's ass.