Eight days after Oprah announced A Million Little Pieces as an Oprah's Book Club selection, Harpo was contacted by a former Hazelden counselor challenging the truth of James's memoir. Harpo producers contacted the publisher.
Oprah: We asked if you, your company, stood behind James's book as a work of non-fiction at the time. And they said, absolutely. And they were also asked if their legal department had checked out the book. And they said yes. So in a press release sent out for the book in 2004, by your company, the book was described as "brutally honest and an altering look at addiction." So how can you say that if you haven't checked it to be sure?
Nan: You know, Oprah, I mean, I think this whole experience is very sad. It's very sad for you. It's very sad for us.
Oprah: It's not sad for me. It's embarrassing and disappointing for me.
Nan: I do not know how you get inside another person's mind.
Oprah: Well, this is my point, Nan. Otherwise then anybody can just walk in off the street with whatever story they have and say this is my story.
Nan: This is absolutely true...
Oprah: That needs to change.
Nan: No, you cannot stop people from making up stories. We learn by stories.
Oprah: You can if you call it a memoir. You can make up stories and call them novels. People have done it for years.
Nan: A novel is something different than a memoir. And a memoir is different from an autobiography. A memoir is an author's remembrance of a certain period in his life. Now, the responsibility, as far as I am concerned, is does it strike me as valid? Does it strike me as authentic? I mean, I'm sent things all the time and I think they're not real. I don't think they're authentic. I don't think they're good. I don't believe them. In this instance, I absolutely believed what I read.
Oprah: So did I.
Leading journalists share their opinions about the controversy.