Hoo boy: I’m not going to be able to see Oprah until late tonight, but I hear from Gawker and now from Edward Wyatt that she’s superpissed. Wyatt’s calling today’s episode “an extraordinary reversal of her strident and angry defense of the author whose book she catapulted to the top of the best-seller list,” which surprises me a bit because I didn’t think her phone call to Larry King was the least bit angry, or even particularly strident.
What amuses me the most, though, is that in Chicago, the show got pre-empted by a Bush news conference at which el presidente apparently had little more to say than “we live in historic times.” Yeah, I can hear Chicagoans saying, and we’d be able to learn how they turn out if you’d shut the hell up and let us watch Frey squirm some more. For those viewers, at least there’s the Internet recap…
Sarah adds: Luckily, I made it home just in time to watch almost the entire show, and I must echo Frank Rich’s comment: that was amazing television. For someone like Oprah, who’s usually so quick to be obsequious and embrace her subjects (or at least let them jump up and down on couches) watching her get angry, scornful and be on the verge of tears certainly reminded me that she still knows how to make people squirm if necessary.
But here’s the thing, buried deep in Hillel Italie’s report for AP: why didn’t she engage in “publishing’s equivalent of the death penalty,” revoking the book club endorsement? What’s bad enough for Jonathan Franzen (who merely criticized her) isn’t bad enough for Frey, who supposedly “betrayed and embarassed” her? Or was she so caught up in the moment that it escaped her and something to that effect will happen in the future?
In the end, one Livejournal blogger says it best: “i feel so, so bad for james frey. he’s just a sad man who wanted to be bret easton ellis. and now everyone hates him.”
UPDATE: And the party continues tonight as the Smoking Gun’s Bill Bastone — who told Chicago Tribune reporter Patrick Reardon that he watched the Oprah episode with his jaw hanging open — will appear on Larry King tonight at 9.