Saturday, January 28, 2006

Two Arses don't make a right

Well, who knew that one little rant could cause such a stir? I decided to post this here rather than continue the string of comments.

Here's the thing. I am not excusing James Frey for lying. I think smart wonderful talented writers like The Editor and LA Barabbas are coming at this issue from a different perspective than I am. I work in "reality" TV. I spend my days "freying" stories to make them more interesting for the viewer. Do the people at home really think that the survivors all hike from their crappy little villages to the tribal council area to vote off their least favorite brethren? You do all know that they are driven in comfy 12 passenger vans, right? You don't really think that Amy Grant just shows up at the house of the long lost birth mother of the girl whose adopted parents were just killed in a horrible car wreck? You do know that a producer has had dozens of conversations with this woman for weeks - months - before an ENG crew arrives as planned to set up the lights and cameras and place the microphone on the woman so that when Amy "unexpectedly" knocks on the door, we can see and hear the woman's "honest" reaction. And, come on people, those idiot rednecks on Jerry Springer don't just randomly fly off the handle and pounce on their babies daddy's latest girlfriend! They are given complete instructions from a producer when and how to initiate the altercation.

As a producer, I know that Ms. Winfrey has a large staff of people who do a crap load of work behind the scenes. I actually work with people that have worked with Madame O. I also know that the Big O would never invite the author of say a diet book onto her set without talking to people about how the diet has worked for them - talking to medical professionals about the safety of the diet - there's a lot of behind the scenes talking before anyone ever speaks a word that the TV and studio audience will hear. So, as a producer, I am appalled that O Diddy didn't have her staff make a single phone call to the alleged rehab facility that Frey wrote about. She made no effort to obtain his mug shot from his alleged stay in jail. She did none of that. But I guarantee that when she has Lacey Peterson's mom on the show to talk about her book, there will be all sorts of ancillary information. There will be police detectives and lawyers and maybe even a jailhouse interview with the evil Mr. Peterson.

Say what you want about the publishers and about the author. I am neither. But I do know how TV works and for Oprah to stand on her stage and whine for an hour about how she was duped is ridiculous. She has IMMENSE power and had her staff made just a few tiny phone calls, which is their JOB, she would have had a far more interesting show than either of the Frey shows she DID have. Come on! Oprah reads a book in which a patient in a rehab facility is given 2 root canals without any sort of pain killer. She admits that she found it "unbelievable". She admits that she even asked her dentist about it. So why didn't she assign a staff member to call said facility? Really? I just think it's irresponsible. And, with that in mind, she should have just said so.

Yes, Frey lied. Yes, the publisher lied. And I am not condoning, excusing or endorsing that. I also can not condone, excuse or endorse Oprah's behavior.

The wise Cup O'Joe really summed it up for me in his comment to my last post.

One more thought to ponder, this from a quote by H.L. Mencken:

"The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth - that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured on one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one."

Now, let us burry this topic once and for all and move on to far more important things.


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