“We only reconciled on the show, not in life,” the actor told TV Guide, referring to the eight part docu-series he and Tatum starred in on Winfrey’s newly-launched ”Oprah Winfrey Network” (OWN) earlier this summer.
“In fact we’re further apart now than when we started the show,” he said. “So thanks, Oprah, for all your help.”
Father and daughter, who appeared together in the 1973 film “Paper Moon,” for which the then-10-year-old Tatum won an Oscar, endured a 25-year estrangement, much of it displayed in the public eye.
“In one word, pride,” Ryan told “Good Morning America” in June of what drove him and his daughter apart. “I thought I had all the pride. It turned out, no, there’s someone with more than me.”
The duo began talking again after the death of his Ryan’s longtime girlfriend, actress Farrah Fawcett, in 2009, and agreed to star in the reality series for OWN that documented their attempts to work through the estrangement and improve their relationship.
“ Ryan & Tatum: The O’Neals ,” which premiered June 19, showed the pair in therapy sessions, celebrating Tatum’s birthday and traveling together to the Palm Springs Film Festival for a screening of Paper Moon.
“It was a way back when there weren’t many paths,” Ryan told “GMA” in June, of why he and Tatum turned to a reality show to repair their strained father-daughter bond.
It turns out the reality of those hopeful moments on the reality show were not so real, after all.
In clips from the show’s final episode in August, the two remain conflicted towards each other, even while agreeing to continue therapy.
Both Ryan and Tatum agreed on “GMA,” after filming for the show had wrapped, that their relationship remained “tenuous.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Tatum said on “GMA.” “Relationships are tricky.”
This is not the first time O’Neal has hit back against Oprah for her involvement, or lack thereof, in the show.
“I thought that was the thing – that Oprah would be there and use her magic on us,” he told xfinityTV in June. “I thought she’d bless us and that would help. We spent New Year’s Eve with her, and she was very encouraging. Then we never saw her again. And haven’t heard from her. When she finished her show, I supposed she’d come by and talk to us, but they said no, she’s going on holiday. So Tatum and I were left to deal with each other on our own.”
A spokesman for OWN had no comment.
Ryan O’Neal’s camp is now furiously backpedaling on the TV Guide quote.
“That is a very old statement that the magazine just published,” O’Neal’s spokesman, Arnold Robinson, told “GMA.” “They are of course still working on strengthening their relationship, which is an on-going process.”
Robinson also noted that Tatum O’Neal joined her father in court a few weeks ago to offer support as her half-brother, Redmond, Ryan’s son with Fawcett, faced another drug charge.
TV Guide responded to Robinson’s characterization of O’Neal’s quotes in a statement to ABC News.
“We interviewed Ryan O’Neal recently, and published his quotes shortly thereafter. We stand by our story,” Debra Birnbaum, the magazine’s editor-in-chief told ABC.
Whatever the truth, life is more complicated than reality TV. Perhaps there’s room for a sequel.