"I almost drank myself to death," the broadcaster tells PEOPLE

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
August 22, 2014 06:00 PM
Chris McPherson

When Pat O’Brien set out to write the story of his “big life” – his star-studded career in TV, the drinking that destroyed it and the four rehab trips it took to get sober – he wanted to be truthful. Brutally so.

“Most people try to sugar coat what happened and make their books a ‘love me more’ and ‘here’s what’s next,’ ” the former CBS Sports, Access Hollywood and Insider broadcaster tells PEOPLE of his new memoir, I’ll Be Right Back After This.

“I’ve had such a big life and I almost died. Recovery has taught me to be honest about it.”

In the book, O’Brien explains just how bad his drinking got – he was spending $2,300 a week on Silver Oak wine and his drunken behavior at Donald Trump’s January 2005 wedding was “so outrageous” that he was thrown out of the reception (but not before he stole a gold fork). Two months later, he blacked out leaving a crude voicemail for a woman – not his girlfriend – that eventually found its way onto the Internet.

It was the voicemail, and its subsequent bad publicity, that sent O’Brien – compelled by his then-bosses at The Insiderinto rehab the first time, he writes in the book.

And he doesn’t mince words about his feelings, still, for those bosses or what he calls the “tabloid” world he and his colleagues reported on at The Insider.

Executive producer Linda Bell Blue “was the female Jekyll and Hyde she had her company-purchased Christian Louboutin shoes squarely on my neck,” he writes, and the show became “a video carnival, highlighting 75 lb. women and 1,000 lb. men … I needed a drink and a shower every night when I got home. Meantime, it paid well and the clothes were free.”

And over at Access Hollywood, where he worked prior to his Insider days, Nancy O’Dell wasn’t let off easy either. O’Brien described his co-host as “a former Miss South Carolina who spent three to four hours a day in hair and makeup.”

If feelings are hurt, O’Brien, 66, has no apologies.

“Anyone who wants to complain about four or five sentences has to remember I almost died working in that business,” he tells PEOPLE. “I almost drank myself to death.”

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For more from O’Brien, and to read an excerpt his memoir, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

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