Ninety miles to the south of me in Mrs. O'Leary's Chicago, Oprah Winfrey is kicking herself.
When the queen of daytime landed the first interview with Amber Frey, the mistress of convicted killer Scott Peterson and author of a new book on their affair, it seemed like a genuine media coup. The Peterson case is this decade's answer to OJ and Oprah wisely decided to shore up a week of reruns by stretching the Frey interview to two days. Like most of America, I'm guessing she was expecting two shows of shocking revelations and fascinating memories.
Here are my initial impressions of Amber Frey: she is quite beautiful, and she is about as articulate as a coffee table.
To be fair, it's a painful and embarrassing subject and she's discussing it for the first time in front of America's largest daytime audience. If John Travolta could bawl like a baby promoting his movie on today's show, then Ms. Frey is certainly entitled to her own set of butterflies.
But let me tell you, after watching the gruesome first half I have new respect for two people. Oprah, for using all her considerable skill to salvage a few minutes of TV from Frey's deer-in-the- headlights answers; and Frey's ghostwriter for managing to sew together 200 pages of text out of that woman's thoughts.
You know, I don't think Frey read her own book. Oprah quoted a passage that described the 'exact' moment Amber fell in love with Scott. Care to respond Amber, you know, tell us in detail how you felt at that moment? Nope. Frey contradicted the passage by saying she couldn’t remember the first tine she knew she loved him.
Oookaaay, shall we move on? Oprah asks a question. Frey looks confused (gasp!), and Oprah fills in the answer herself. Repeat endlessly.
"I know this story better than you do," an exasperated Oprah said.
Heck, I know the book better than Amber, and I haven't seen a copy.
Now to be fair, I think the woman's gotten a bum rap. First, about how she had Scott pick up her daughter from school after 'only' three dates. Sure it sounds crazy, but is it the action that bothers us or the fact that in retrospect we know the man was a killer? Scott was a well -mannered businessman who was introduced to her by a friend and had already met her child. While I may not agree with her, the decision needs to be viewed in context.
Second, the speculation that Amber is lying - like maybe at some point she figured out he was married and was 'okay' with the fact.
Who cares? She didn't know when they began dating, and she loved him. If at some point she caught on and tolerated it, she at least has more credibility than the legion of hypocrites who willingly start affairs everyday.
(While we're on the subject, justly crucify Peterson for many things, but enough with the wide-eyed horror about how he lied. The man was having an affair and trying to hide the fact from two women. What was he supposed to do, email each of them an accurate itinerary? Lying is a prerequisite for an affair, and it's certainly not the most original - or abhorrent - sin on his conscience.)
Lousy interview or not, I'm going to tune in tomorrow. Partly out of interest in the case, but yeah, I want to see if Amber can suck it up and come out swinging.
If she doesn't, Oprah may just take a few swings at her.
UPDATE: I think O took Amber aside and told her to shape up, because Friday's interview was more articulate . . . that still isn't saying a lot, but it was better.