Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Controversial biographer Kitty Kelley calls Oprah Winfrey controlling during a talk at the University of Mary Washington

The final speaker of this year’s University of Mary Washington Great Lives lecture series was controversial biographer Kitty Kelley, who wrote “Oprah: A Biography.” Kelley didn’t talk about Oprah much until a question-and-answer session after her lecture. 

Kelley said she interviewed 850 people for the Oprah book, including employees of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

“The employees that I interviewed past and present have signed confidentiality agreements,” Kelley said last night. ”This woman who appears so open is so controlling. She puts everybody under a strict confidentiality agreement. That means not just her producers and her assistants…but her gardeners, her hairdressers, the guy that waxes her eyebrows. Absolutely everybody.”

This year’s Great Lives lecture series has ended, but organizer William Crawley–a retired distinguished professor at UMW–is thinking about next year’s lineup. Possibilities include:

  • Sean Wilentz, who wrote “Bob Dylan in America.”
  • Stacy Schiff, who penned “Cleopatra: A Life.”
  • Time Magazine editor Richard Stengel, who has written about Nelson Mandela.

Crawley said he hasn’t yet talked to authors or their agents about speaking at UMW next year.

Read tomorrow’s Free Lance-Star for more information.