So James Frey is appearing on Oprah this afternoon, but we're lucky to have an honest-to-God sneak preview for you (the show is taping live, right now, in Chicago). We'll keep updating this post as the show progresses.
Oprah opens the show by saying she's sorry; she also apologizes for calling Larry King to defend Frey. And then the kicker: Oprah says to Frey, "You betrayed millions of readers." Remember how we said Oprah had totally saved Frey's ass? Yeah, not anymore.
After commerical, Frey appears. Of the Smoking Gun report that broke this story, Frey says they "did a good job." He admits to Oprah that he lied to her about jail. "I made a mistake," he says.
Oprah's not satisfied and keeps pushing. Frey admits that Lilly didn't hang herself; claims that in reality she cut her wrist. "Why did you have to lie about that?" responds Oprah.
Update: Frey says, "I don't think it is a novel — it's a memoir." When he says he wrote the book from memory, the audience actually boos him. "I have been really embarrassed by this," says Oprah.
On the documents Frey refuses to share, Oprah asks, "Where are they?" She's really angry. Regarding the dentist incident: "What is true?" Frey responds, "I have no idea if I had Novocaine."
Frey says that he's struggled with the book, to which Oprah retorts, "No, the lie of it." The audience claps (OPRAH WE LOVE YOU YAY OMG!). She goes back to the root canal issue, he says he doesn't know. Oprah's visibly pissed; it's almost painful.
More ass-kicking after the jump.
Update 2: In a taped interview, Maureen Dowd says Oprah should revoke her Book Club seal.
Publisher Nan Talese shows up, claims she's had a root canal without novocaine. Considering that was likely in 1957, we don't know how this helps Frey's case.
Talese claims to have learned about the inaccuracies in Frey's book at the same time as everyone else, through the Smoking Gun report. "But should I ask more questions?" she stupidly asks. "YES!" says Oprah. Duh.
Talese says this "whole experience has been sad." Oprah snaps back, "It's not sad for me. It's embarrassing."
Oprah's people were contacted by someone from the Hazelden clinic days after the book was picked. This person questioned the book, so Oprah had her people contact Talese. Talese's team backed up it up and said Frey's book was "non-fiction." More TK.
Update 3: After the commercial break, Richard Cohen from the Washington Post cozies up on the couch with Frey and Talese. Of the book's beginning, in which Frey claims to be incredibly mangled en route to his parents, Cohen says, "How'd this guy get on an airplane? I can't get on with a third piece of luggage."
Oprah, more calm but still pissed, asks Frey, "Do you think you made a mistake or lied?" Frey answers, "Probably both." Yes, James, PROBABLY.
Unreal: Now Frank Rich is here! He notes that this is all "amazing television." Insightful...
Update 4: Now Rich and Cohen are discussing the issues surrounding Oprah's latest pick, Night, and whether it is to be read as truth or fiction. Some journalism scholar comes out to pontificate, but everyone falls asleep.
Frey is still onstage, but he's been relatively quiet since Talese came out. Talese's phone rings onstage. Live television is awesome.
Oprah asks Frey if he could do things over, would he want a disclaimer in the book? He says no, but he would've written things "differently."
Update 5: The show is wrapping up. Oprah has tamed her angry inner Harpo. She says to Frey, "I appreciate you being here. It is a difficult time and I hope you were joking about there being a gun backstage—not worth that. [Ed: Uh, WTF?] Just come clean and that begins the process. Maybe the beginning of another truth..."
Frey responds, "It hasn't been a great day/week but I come out better and admit to lying. And that's not easy."
In the last moments, Frey is asked about anything else he wants to come clean on. He says he really did board a plan looking like a bloody mess; when he left rehab he was with only one person, not two. Claims that there are no other major issues. Well, that's good, because if there were any more "major issues" with this, we'd expect every existing copy of the damn book to spontaneously burst into flames.
And scene. Later this afternoon, we'll provide some photographic documentation of the Angry Oprah in her natural environment.