Ever since actress Mackenzie Phillips revealed to Oprah Winfrey that she had a decade-long sexual affair with her father, the Mamas & the Papas co-founder, John Phillips, public reaction has been volatile. Mackenzie’s allegations have caused a seismic split within her own family as well. Mackenzie was back on Oprah Friday morning to respond to the firestorm.
Appearing via satellite, Mackenzie said she expected controversy but indicated the past few days had been overwhelming. Mackenzie said she’d received 150 letters of support through various social networking sites encouraging her to “tell [her] truth.” Oprah read a statement from Mackenzie’s half-sister, model/actress/singer, Bijou Phillips, that said in part, Mackenzie told her when she was 13 about the affair, but later said it didn’t happen. Bijou stated she was confused and scared by what Mackenzie said, especially because she lived alone with John Phillips. Bijou went on to say that if indeed the affair did occur, why would Mackenzie leave Bijou alone with their father. Mackenzie didn’t really have an answer, only saying she believed her sister was safe. She did say there had been a time when she and Owen Elliot (daughter of Cass Elliot, John Phillip’s the Mamas & the Papas band mate) took Bijou out of the home, but said it wasn’t related to any sexual abuse inflicted by John Phillips on her half-sister.
Oprah went on to ask about Michelle Phillips’ assertions that Mackenzie has “mental illness.” Michelle, Mackenzie’s former stepmother and also a member of the Mamas & the Papas, told the “Hollywood Reporter” blog, Showbiz 411, she believed Mackenzie was lying about the affair. Echoing Bijou Phillips statement about Mackenzie retracting her claims, Michelle said “[Mackenzie] told me [in 1997], then she called me back and said, ‘You know I’m joking,” I said it wasn’t funny. Mackenzie said, ‘I guess we have different senses of humor.’ Michelle went on to say John Phillips was a “bad parent and a drug addict. But [expletive deleted] his daughter? If she thinks it’s true, why isn’t she with a good psychiatrist on a couch?”
Mackenzie refuted Michelle’s claims of mental illness, saying she’s an addict, which is a different thing and that when Michelle found out she was writing the book, she vowed to discredit it.
Mackenzie’s other half-sister, Wilson Phillips singer, Chynna Phillips (John Phillips’ daughter with Michelle Phillips) was in Chicago with Oprah and said she was proud of her sister and that Mackenzie told her over the phone 12 years ago. Oprah asked Chynna if she believed it. Chynna hesitated a bit before saying she did believe Mackenzie, because who would make up something like this. Chynna stated she didn’t like the position Mackenzie had put her in by having to talk about it, but hoped she would try to help people and “get the Lord on board,” (Chynna now sings Christian music with singer/songwriter, Vaughn Penn, and Oprah did the requisite plug for Chynna’s new CD, “One Reason.”) Oprah asked Chynna if John Phillips had ever made sexual advances towards her. Chynna responded no, that she only ever saw her father once every two years and disputed her mother’s claims that Mackenzie is mentally ill.
Oprah wrapped up the interview by allowing Mackenzie to respond to Chynna. After the two sisters gushed all over each other, Mackenzie said she felt bad for the position she’d put Chynna in and Chynna said she thinks Mackenzie could have handled it better with the family. Oprah revealed that earlier this week, she’d received an email from Jessica Woods, the oldest daughter of Denny Doherty, the fourth member of the Mamas & the Papas. Jessica’s email confirmed Mackenzie’s story, stating John Phillips told her father all about it, who in turn told her. Jessica’s email said her father was “horrified” by what John Phillips had done. The interview ended and Oprah went on to chat with Jay Leno and Harry Connick, Jr.
In this age of scandalous celebrity tell-alls, Mackenzie Phillips has certainly upped the ante. Time will tell if she will turn around all the controversy she’s stirred up and use it for good by helping others, or if it is merely a ploy to sell more copies of her book.
Hanh Nguyen,Mackenzie Phillips a liar?: Tamerlane Phillips, Michelle Phillips and others weigh in, Zap2it.com