Press Box

Kitty Kelley, Sore Winner

Ignore her claim that the media are blackballing her Oprah book.

Oprah Winfrey

For some writers, being interviewed by Deborah Solomon in the New York Times Magazine upon the publication of their new book would be a cause for celebration. Not so for Kelley, who exploited the occasion yesterday for some full-bore kvetching about the TV shows that she says won’t be having her on to discuss Oprah: A Biography. Here’s what Kelley said:

In promoting this book, we have already been told by Barbara Walters’s producer, No, you cannot be on The View, I cannot disrupt my relationship with Oprah. Joy Behar, the same thing. Charlie Rose; Larry King said, I will not do it, it might upset Oprah. Even David Letterman.

Kelley’s bellyaching might attract a little sympathy if her complaint hadn’t appeared on a promotion-friendly page of the Times or if, the next day, the New York Times and The New Yorker hadn’t reviewed her book, the Today show hadn’t treated her to a friendly segment, and USA Todayhadn’t published a soft-focus profile. All this publicity, and the book doesn’t even come out until tomorrow (April 13).

That David Letterman might not want to offend Winfrey by hosting the author of a dishy book about her isn’t surprising. According to reports, Letterman only recently ended a long feud with her. But let’s remember, we’re talking about a comedian’s talk show here, not  C-Span’s Book TV. Also, if Barbara Walters and Joy Behar are too cozy with Winfrey, wouldn’t some press ethicists think that they’re doing the right thing by not interviewing Kelley? Finally, does Kelley have a right to appear on Charlie Rose? To the best of my knowledge, she’s never been on his show. Why does she “deserve” a slot now?

As for Larry King’s cold shoulder, Kelley has a lot of moxie to protest that snub. By my rough count, she has appeared on Larry King Live frequently enough to qualify for honorary sidekick status. Nexis has her appearing on King’s show at least 16 times between 1997—when her book about the British “royal” family appeared—and 2004, to jabber on that specific topic.

Kelley hasn’t appeared on King’s show since 2004, according to Nexis, which means he also snubbed her 2004 book, The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. Should we assume from her nonappearance that King feared retribution from the Bush dynasty, or is the easier explanation that his producers thought it was a skanky book? Whatever King is thinking, Kelley still got plenty of publicity for The Family, appearing on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN’s Reliable Sources, CNN’s Newsnight, MSNBC’s Hardball, and NBC’s Today show, just to name a few shows.  Reviews of the book or profiles pegged to it appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune,  the Toronto Star, the Seattle Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, Newsday, the Washington Post, and other newspapers.

If Kelley is the victim of a media blackball, I hope they cast it at me when I write a book.


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