Published April 13, 2010
An unauthorized tell-all biography of media mogul Oprah Winfrey contains details so shocking, the author claims she has been blackballed from appearing on most major media outlets.
Kitty Kelley, famous for her unauthorized biographies of American icons including Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Nancy Reagan, is back at it again with her book, “Oprah.” And Kelley says the salacious details -- from Winfrey’s "concocted" stories about childhood poverty and abuse to tales of secret lesbian affairs -- could do so much damage to the talk-show host’s image that her high-powered media pals, fearing alienation, don’t want to come anywhere near the author.
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Kelley said she has been rejected by nearly everyone in the talk-show circuit.
“In promoting this book, we have already been told by Barbara Walters’ 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.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the entire ABC network has banned Kelley and any promotion of her book, aside from a news report on its release.
If all of these rejections are true, they beg the question: Why is everyone afraid of Oprah?
“It’s kind of amazing that anybody would write anything about Oprah that wasn’t overly positive,” Tim Molloy, managing editor of TVGuide.com, tells Fox411."You have to admire the author and publisher's gumption to take on someone as powerful as Winfrey."
Indeed, the scope of her influence in the media is astonishing.
According to Time magazine, back in 2006, when Oprah hosted then-Democratic Senator Barack Obama, Internet searches on the still-relatively unknown presidential hopeful went up more than 350 percent.
When it comes to her famous book club, Business Week cites her power to sell a book, saying it is anywhere from 20 to 100 times that of any other media personality.
Just being a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has turned unknowns like Rachel Ray, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Phil McGraw into talk-show hosts.
"From a public relations standpoint, an appearance on 'Oprah' is the grand prize and always will be," says Peter Shankman, a media and image expert. "No one is going to do anything to anger her."
Another theory is that Oprah simply commands a professional respect among her peers.
“I'm sure other celebrities have a professional relationship with Ms. Winfrey, they wouldn’t want to sour that relationship by being a source of confidential info or unflattering information,” celebrity attorney David Adler tells Fox News. “They themselves are also in the public eye, and I'm sure that they don’t want to do things which they wouldn’t like done to them.”
But Molloy says it goes far beyond just a mutual respect.
“Many talk-show hosts likely see no need to get involved in Kelley’s promotion of the book,” he told Fox411. “There isn’t much potential reward from having Kelley on, but there is a greater chance of backlash from Oprah’s legion of loyal fans.
“To some people, she is like royalty, “ Molloy said. “They don’t want to hear anyone say anything bad about her. If a fan derives strength from Oprah, they might take it as a personal swipe and be turned off from watching something that promotes bringing her down to such a human level.”
If the claims that ABC banned promotion of the book are true, it could also be due to the unfavorable information in the book about one of the network's superstars, Diane Sawyer.
Kelley, citing unnamed sources, says Winfrey and Sawyer were plagued with rumors of a lesbian affair during her years at ABC News, with Winfrey lavishing large bouquets of flowers and a 1-carat diamond toe rings on the newswoman.
On Tuesday’s episode of “The View,” the hosts dismissed any fears of Oprah and said Kelley’s reputation, combined with Winfrey’s candid revelations about her past, make the book simply irrelevant.
“There was nothing that was terribly revealing [in the book],” Walters said. “I don’t dislike Kitty Kelley, let her make her money if she can.”
And it appears she will indeed make money, with 500,000 copies of the book ordered in the first printing. Yahoo tells Fox411 that searches for an Oprah biography Tuesday were up 5000 percent.
Kelley's interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly will be shown later this week on "The O'Reilly Factor."