TV & Radio
The New York Times
September 13, 2006
McGreevey Tells Oprah Winfrey About New Book, and New Life
By SHIA KAPOS
CHICAGO, Sept. 12 — James E. McGreevey, who resigned as New Jersey governor two years ago after revealing that he had an affair with a man he put on the state payroll, told Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday that he has renewed faith in God and wants to work on education and poverty, according to several people who were in the audience for the taped interview.
Scheduled to air next week in conjunction with the release of Mr. McGreevey’s memoir, “The Confession,” the interview on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was the first stop on a publicity tour.
Reporters were not allowed into the taping, but members of the audience said the hourlong conversation ranged from Mr. McGreevey’s relationship with God to the sexual encounters he had with a former staff member in his home. He told Ms. Winfrey that “he felt he was being dishonest and had to change his life around,” said an audience member who spoke on the condition she not be named.
Many who watched the taping said there was little new. “It was underwhelming,” one guest said. As sometimes happens on the taped show, audience members were told not to discuss the interview.
As they left the studio in the West Loop neighborhood here, many offered “no comments” with the practiced ease of celebrities, but some mentioned a few details: Mr. McGreevey, 49, wore a suit and tie, laughed and joked throughout the interview, and was thoughtful in discussing the people in his life.
Audience members gasped at a few comments, some because they were astonished, others moved. “He was very real, whether you agree with him or not,” one woman said.
Ms. Winfrey won the first interview, but Mr. McGreevey is scheduled to appear next week on “Today,” “The View” and “Hannity & Colmes.” His agents describe it as more a coming-out story than a political tell-all.
Mr. McGreevey, who did not speak to the small posse of journalists at the studio, also discussed poverty and education, causes Ms. Winfrey has taken up on her show and in her personal life. He was joined in the studio for the taping by about a dozen friends, including State Senator Ray Lesniak of Elizabeth, N.J.
The former governor has largely stayed out of public view since the stunning day in August 2004, when he stood with his wife at a news conference and announced, “I am a gay American.”
He stepped down from the state’s top job and separated from his wife. He now lives with his partner, Mark O’Donnell, 42, an Australian financial adviser.
“He’s a human being who has a right to live his life the way he wants,” said Casey Grant, a retired flight attendant who lives in Chicago and watched the taping. “No matter what kind of governor he was.”
Andrew Jacobs contributed reporting from Newark.