When A Million Little Pieces was selected for Oprah’s Bookclub in 2005, the book hit the bestsellers’ lists. In episode 28 of season 22, ‘The Man Who Kept Oprah Awake at Night: A Million Little Pieces’, aired on 26 October 2007, in which Oprah highly praised A Million Little Pieces. Winfrey said it was “like nothing you’ve ever read before. Everybody at Harpo is reading it. When we were staying up late at night reading it, we’d come in the next morning saying, ‘What page are you on?’”
On 8 January 2006, the Smoking Gun published an article called A Million Little Lies: Exposing James Frey’s Fiction Addiction, which detailed parts of the memoir which were fictional.
James Frey appeared on Larry King Live on 11 January 2006 to defend his position and the show received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey in Frey’s support. She said, “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 tormenting himself and his parents, and 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 … To me, it seems to be much ado about nothing.”
James Frey and his editor Nan Talese appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on 26 January 2006. Oprah questioned the accuracy of the Smoking Gun report on A Million Little Pieces and said that she felt “really duped” but that, “more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.” She also apologized for her previous telephoned statement to Larry King Live.
In July 2007, Nan Talese spoke out about Oprah Winfrey’s treatment of James Frey at a literary convention in Texas. Nan Talese explained that she and James frey were invited back to the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about ‘Truth in America’. However, as she was walking in, a producer came up to her to tell her the programme was in fact about ‘The James Frey Controversy.’ Nan Talese describes how Oprah “verbally flayed him” and how at the end of the show, Oprah pulled James to one side to tell him that she knew it was rough but it was just business. This has led to a flurry of press attention in the vein of James Frey versus Oprah: The Sequel.
Since the publication of Bright Shiny Morning, James Frey has spoken out about the controversy and his run in with Oprah. In an interview with QTV, he describes the differing reactions of countries across the world to the A Million Little Pieces controversy but how he now considers himself to be ‘the luckiest guy in the world’.
Only recently has James Frey spoken out about a phone call he received from Oprah last autumn in which she apologised to him for publicly humiliating him on her show. “It was a nice surprise to hear from her,” Frey told Vanity Fair.
In the paperback edition of Bright Shiny Morning, a new chapter has been included which is all about a writer who is publicly shamed on a talk show and who then receives an apologetic phone call from the show’s host. The host tells the writer about her true story which “directly contradicted all of her public statements”. During the phone call, the writer is wearing a wire and records the entire conversation. Read it here.