Oprah Winfrey broke her silence about James Frey's disputed memoir of addiction, "A Million Little Pieces," dismissing allegations of falsehoods as "much ado about nothing" and urging readers who have been inspired by the book to "Keep holding on."

"What is relevant is that he was a drug addict ... and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves," Winfrey said Wednesday night in a surprise phone call to a cable news anchor, who was interviewing Frey on his live television program.

Frey has been under intense scrutiny since The Smoking Gun, an investigative Web site, posted a story last Sunday alleging the author had substantially fabricated his criminal record and other aspects of his past.

Publishers, writers and readers have offered their opinions, but none mattered so much as Winfrey's. Her selection last fall of "A Million Little Pieces" for her book club made the memoir a million seller and she might have fatally ruined Frey's reputation by condemning him.

Frey, in his first interview since The Smoking Gun story came out, acknowledged he had embellished parts of the book but said that was common for memoirs and defended "the essential truth" of "A Million Little Pieces."

"The book is about drug addiction and alcoholism," he said. "The emotional truth is there."