Oprah Says She Was 'Duped,' Author Apologizes

ByABC News
January 26, 2006, 9:41 AM

Jan. 26, 2006 — -- Author James Frey, who has come under fire for disputed events in his best-selling memoir "A Million Little Pieces," addresses the controversy on today's episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Frey appears with Nan Talese, his publisher and the editorial director of Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, as well as journalists familiar with the allegations that parts of his story are made up. "A Million Little Pieces" deals with his time as a drug addict and alcoholic.

"It is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped ... but more importantly I feel that you betrayed millions of readers," Winfrey said to Frey.

Frey acknowledged the problems. "I think I made a lot of mistakes in writing the book and promoting book," he said.

Winfrey asked: "Do you think you lied or do you think you made a mistake?"

"I think probably both," he said.

Frey added, "All the way through the book, I altered details about every single one of the characters to render them unidentifiable."

Frey previously acknowledged taking "liberties" in writing the book. In a Jan. 11 interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," he admitted embellishing some details, but insisted that was part of the memoir-writing business. He also said that "the emotional truth is there."

Talese published "A Million Little Pieces" in 2003, and sales were brisk then. But when Winfrey named it as her September 2005 book-club selection, it became one of the best-selling books of last year.

According to Neilsen BookScan, the hardcover book sold 137,000 copies in 2003. The first paperback edition in 2004 sold 98,000 copies. Winfrey's paperback edition came out in September 2005 and has sold 2.1 million copies, for total sales of more than 2.3 million copies.

The controversy surrounding the book began Jan. 8, when The Smoking Gun Web site published an investigative story that indicated Frey, 36, had embellished, and even invented, some of the material in his memoir, including a three-month prison stay that apparently never happened.

Winfrey has supported Frey and the book. In a surprise telephone call to King's show, she said the allegations were "much ado about nothing."

"What is relevant is that he was a drug addict, and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves," she said.

She was widely criticized, including by e-mailers to her Web site, for her apparent indifference to the controversy. She said on her program that she regretted calling King's show. "I left the impression that the truth is not important," she said.

Frey also told King he had originally tried to sell his book as fiction, but Talese told The New York Observer that she had never intended to publish the book as a novel.

Frey told Winfrey that the last few weeks had been difficult, but that he was glad to set the record straight. "If I come out of this experience with anything," he said, "it's being a better person and learning from my mistakes and making sure I don't repeat them."

ABC News' Rose Palazzolo, Eric Horng and The Associated Press contributed to this report.