November 2009 Archives

Letterman's lame-duck Oprah list

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David Letterman's Top 10 list last night, from the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska...

"Signs Oprah Doesn't Care Anymore"


10. Greets guests with, "Uh, what do you want?"

9. When Dr. Phil's name comes up, Oprah mutters, "Quack."

8. Instead of "woo hoo," can only muster a "woo."

7. Dumped Stedman for that "Jon and Kate" dude.

6. Yesterday's show was Oprah watching an episode of "Tyra."

5. Hosts program in sweatpants and Tweety Bird T-shirt.

4. Friday show now entirely devoted to her college and pro football picks.

3. "Oprah's Book Club" now "Oprah's Bookie Club" (that's barely a joke, we promise to do better in the new year).

2. Today's topic: "Oprah takes a nap."

1. Last three guests were Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam and Jose Cuervo.

Oprah's tearful announcement on Friday

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The video of Oprah's complete announcement at the end of her show this morning: Watch and read it here.

What O's news means for TV

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Here's one marketing pro's take on what an Oprah void will mean on network TV, and what her arrival means to cable ...

Ellen and others react to O's news

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People caught up with some of Oprah's pals, too, to see what they had to say to about her decision to quit her talk show in 2011:

Martha Stewart: "She'll do another show. She's evolving. She's fabulous."

Gayle King: "I think that Oprah always makes the best decision for herself. I really do. And I have a feeling she will come up with some things to do. She has a very full life ... We don't need to worry about her filling her time, I promise you that! Life is good for her."

The big O news round-up

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Everyone's rushed to their keyboards to pontificate on the big news: that Oprah will shut down her daytime talk show in 2011 to concentrate on her new upcoming cable network.

Here's a run-down of what's been said thus far tonight:

Sun-Times TV critic Paige Wiser points out that, hey, just a few months ago Oprah shut down Michigan Avenue and hollered to the throng about how wonderful a city Chicago was and what a beautiful backdrop it made for her show. So ... yeah, uh, Oprah. Was that a going away party?

Mayor Daley's reaction: It's the media's fault, he says, apparently because we had the audacity to inquire who exactly was paying for that Boul Mich street party. "She loves this city, and I will be talking to her," he said tonight, "but again, that became a big rhubarb of the Chicago press: Beat up Oprah. And so, you keep kicking people, and people will leave. Simple as that."

Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert (who once dated the queen of talk shows) thinks this move is all about Oprah's forward thinking: "Scheduled TV is no longer where the audience is. It's not the shows that are slipping; traditional television itself is slipping. I think Oprah will announce she's shifting into the new mode. I predict she'll be on OWN cable, she'll syndicate overseas, she'll have same-day reruns, she'll stream on the Internet, she'll have an online archive of popular and legendary shows."

We also have a timeline of Oprah's existence, and some choice photos of classic O.

Elsewhere online, there's a lot of talk about the void that will be left behind when "The Oprah Winfrey Show" signs off.

The New York Times sees trouble on network TV:

The list of repercussions of her decision is long. For CBS, the owner of syndication rights to her show, it means the loss of its signature program and millions of dollars every year in revenue. For ABC stations, where her show was largely seen, it means the loss of daytime's most popular program, a generator of giant audiences leading into evening news programs.

The L.A. Times sees promise for Oprah's cable venture, but hey -- you know Ellen's pretty happy about this (no wonder she dressed as O magazine for Halloween):

The big winners are Discovery Communications, which is partners with Winfrey on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) that is due to launch in early 2011, Ellen DeGeneres and Warner Bros., which syndicates her daytime talk show and all the TV stations that will no longer have to compete against Winfrey in daytime.

A source summed up the situation neatly for The Hollywood Reporter: "As one syndie veteran summed it up for me, 'If you now have "Oprah," you're depressed; if you don't, you're ecstatic.' "

And Forbes has the best headline of the night: Oprah Gets Out of Her Own Way.

Also, you know who else is really crying over this news? Book publishers!

Oprah will end her show in 2011

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Rumors, rumors, rumors for weeks. And now confirmation: Oprah's ending her show in 2011.

Oprah is reportedly announcing live on Friday's show that she will end her rule of daytime TV talk at the close of her 25th season, on Sept. 9, 2011.

A statement from Harpo Productions president Tim Bennett was sent this evening to TV affiliates, saying:

Dear Friends:

Over the past several weeks, my team and I have had conversations with many of you to help address your questions about the future of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Of course, the one question we couldn't answer was the one that only Oprah could. And tomorrow, she will do just that.

But before she speaks to her loyal viewers, we wanted to share her decision first with you - our valued partners for more than two decades.

Tomorrow, Oprah will announce live on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that she has decided to end what is arguably one of the most popular, influential and enduring programs in television history. The sun will set on the "Oprah" show as its 25th season draws to a close on September 9, 2011.

We welcome you to share this news this evening with your colleagues and viewers. As we all know, Oprah's personal comments about this on tomorrow's live show will mark an historic television moment that we will all be talking about for years to come.

We want to thank you for the partnership and friendship we have shared over the years. Your invaluable support has helped us to create the phenomenon of the "Oprah Show" that we've all been so proud to be a part of for the last 24 years. My staff and I will be calling all of you directly tonight and tomorrow. We look forward to speaking with you.

And, if you think the last quarter century has been something, then "don't touch that dial" as together we plan to make history in the next 20 months...and beyond.

Yours sincerely,
Tim Bennett
President, Harpo, Inc.

Staffers at Harpo were told in a meeting this afternoon. Severance packages were even discussed for various levels of service.

Now the question remains: Will she stay in Chicago?

Last week, rumors swirled that Oprah would be moving her show to Los Angeles, so she could be better located to oversee the launch of her upcoming cable channel, OWN. A Harpo spokesperson denied that report at the time.

MSNBC mentions unnamed sources saying "that Winfrey will host a new daily talk show on OWN, and will also host specials for the network." (This was reported on a blog earlier this month.) But no one yet is saying where that will take place.

The New York Times, however, reports that when Oprah informed her staff of the decision she said "she will not transfer the show to cable. She is expected to produce new programs for OWN, and may appear on some of them."

The timing of the move coincides with what was shaping up to be a tough renewal of syndication for "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Local affiliates, many of whom are suffering from decreased revenues, were beginning to balk at the show's high price tag -- especially since her ratings had begun to slip, giving them less bang for the Oprah buck (even though this week's Sarah Palin interview went through the roof).

The show's syndicator, CBS TV Distribution, also issued a statement this evening: "We have the greatest respect for Oprah and wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors. We know that anything she turns her hand to will be a great success. We look forward to working with her for the next several years and hopefully afterwards as well."


Earlier speculation and summation ...

Oprah's ratings Palin by comparison

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Those of you who claim that Oprah brought Sarah Palin onto her show this week strictly for the ratings -- during sweeps month, duh -- well, the gambit worked. The Palin interview scored Oprah the highest ratings she's had in two years.

Broadcasting & Cable reports:

The CBS Television Distribution talk show hit a 7.2 rating/18 share weighted-metered-market average for all telecasts on Monday, Nov. 16. That's up 36% from last year's 5.3/13 time period average.

The last time Oprah did as well was when the entire Osmond clan appeared on Nov. 9, 2007. The Palin episode also was the highest rated since this year's season premiere featuring a tell-all interview with Whitney Houston and last year's post-presidential election episode.

Let's try that again: Local man's makeover redo

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Russell Davenport - 90s After.jpgLook at that fella! If someone dressed you up like that, wouldn't you demand an apology?

That's Bollingbrook resident Russell Davenport on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" back in 1990, and even though he didn't demand an apology, he's getting one on Thursday's edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" -- from Oprah herself.

"So I would like to take this moment to personally apologize to you for that [1990 makeover] ... for the layers, the socks, the rolled up thing, the man purse," Oprah tells Davenport. "This was at a time when we clearly were still working out the kinks in our
makeover department. ... I don't know what on earth were we thinking?"

Well, he could have found work in, say, a Deee-Lite video.

Thursday, Davenport is back on Oprah's stage, where he is surprised by the opportunity for another makeover -- this time by "Project Runway's" Tim Gunn.

Also on the show, former "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" Carson Carson Kressley is set loose on the streets to give unsuspecting men some unsolicited fashion advice.


UPDATE: Davenport just spoke with the Sun-Times about his Oprah makeover redux. Read the story here, and check out his new "before" photo ...

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The next Oprah spin-off: Nate Berkus

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Dr. Phil became a regular on Oprah, and he got his own show. Dr. Oz became a regular on Oprah, and he got his own show. Who's next? Looks like it's Nate Berkus, Oprah's go-to interior designer for doctoring a room. He was also host of "Oprah's Big Give."

Broadcasting & Cable reported on Tuesday that Harpo Productions is shopping a new daytime talk show centered around Berkus, and may even be close to finalizing a deal with Sony Pictures Television to syndicate the show next fall. Harpo and Sony also partnered to unleash Dr. Oz on the world.

Berkus currently hosts "The Nate Berkus Show" on XM's Oprah & Friends channel.

The New York Times reported this item and noted: "The plans for Mr. Berkus will probably heighten speculation about the future of Ms. Winfrey's own talk show, as her syndicator, CBS Television Distribution, said this month that negotiations about a new deal were continuing. Ms. Winfrey may change syndicators or move her show to her coming cable channel, OWN."

Highlights from the Sarah Palin interview

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Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's interview on today's edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" touched on all the topics, political and personal. Here's a run-down of the highlights:

Levi Johnston
As we saw in the teaser video for the interview, Palin insists that Johnston -- her daughter's ex-boyfriend and baby daddy -- is still "part of the family." But she was clear about her disapproval of his next career move: posing for Playgirl. "Some of the things he is doing is kind of heartbreaking," she said. Of Playgirl, she added, "I call that porn."

Our favorite bit: "I hear he goes by the name Ricky Hollywood now. ... He's quite busy with his media tours and he hasn't seen [his son] in a while."

As for Palin's claim that Johnston would still be invited for Thanksgiving dinner, Johnston himself doesn't buy it. Johnston said, through a Playgirl rep, that it was "a nice gesture but she didn't mean it," adding, "You could tell by her laugh she was full of it."

But Palin said she continues "to hope for the best, and pray for Levi."

The Oprah 'snub'
Much was made during the campaign of Palin feeling snubbed by Oprah and vice versa. Palin insisted today she wasn't really thinking about it.

"No offense, Oprah, but it didn't really register," she said. "It wasn't the center of my universe."

Wardrobe malfunctions
Palin discussed criticism of her large budget for clothes, which was revealed late in the campaign. She says she's no clothes horse and often felt uncomfortable about the outfits selected for her.

"I don't even like to shop," she told Oprah. "[I was ] never thinking it would be a big controversy."

Then, in a recurring theme during this book tour, Palin praised Hillary Clinton: "It gave me a lot of appreciation for what Hillary Clinton had to go through for her campaign."

Tina Fey
Tina Fey's impersonation of Palin was so spot-on that even Fey's young child was confused when the two made a joint appearance on "Saturday Night Live" last fall.

"So yes, I meet Tina Fey, and she was funny," Palin said. "She said, 'Oh don't worry, they'll put makeup on me. I'll look different in a couple of hours.' She's holding her baby, Alice, and Alice is looking back and forth between the two of us, and I'm saying, 'We're confusing your child.' "

The Katie Couric interview
Amid a string of claims that the McCain campaign mismanaged her, Palin confessed that her interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric was a bomb.

"I don't blame people for thinking that I was unprepared for the office after watching that," Palin said.

"I was annoyed with her badgering of questions," Palin said -- particularly Couric's question about which news sources she regularly reads. Palin infamously fumbled the answer, but she says it's because she was bristling at the question: "It was more like, 'Are you kidding me, are you really asking me? It seemed like [Couric] was discovering this nomadic tribe ... asking me, 'How do you stay in touch with the real world?' I rolled my eyes and was annoyed with the question. ... No matter what I say it will be twisted and perceived as a bit negative."

Working mom
Palin discussed raising her five children while still camapigning and holding office. "It never occurred to me that I couldn't do the job because of my children," she said. "My children are my strength. ... They allow me to be grounded."

Why the Republican ticket lost in 2008
Palin explained McCain's loss this way: "The economy tanked under a Republican administration. "People were sincerely looking for change. They were quite concerned about the road that America was on with its economy. They did not want more of the same. They did not want status quo. And I think, unfortunately, our ticket represented what was perceived as status quo."

Why she resigned as Alaska's governor
"I resigned as governor of Alaska because I wasn't going to run for a second term and I was heading into a lame duck term," Palin said of the decision. "We came back [from the campaign] to a new normal in Alaska. Everything had so changed in my administration. There were so many opposition researchers up there in Alaska that were sent, probably, by the Obama camp. ... It was a point where my state of Alaska was being hampered by my presence there."

A 2012 campaign?
Palin says she's not thinking about a presidential run in three years. "I don't know what Im doing in 2012," she said. "It's not on my radar screen. In 2012, Trigg heads to kindergarten and I'm focused on that."

The upcoming week
Palin has a full schedule this week, with numerous other interviews scheduled to air (including Baba Wawa tomorrow), as well as a book tour -- one that she pointed out is avoiding blue cities (like Chicago). See the full schedule of her tour here.

Her new book, Going Rogue, hits shelves tomorrow. Pre-sales have been big -- though while her book is popular, a new poll shows that Palin herself is not.

For more video of the Palin interview on Oprah, including clips that didn't make the show, look to Oprah's Web site here. Oprah even posted a post-interview summation here.

First look at the Sarah Palin interview

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Here's the first set of clips we've seen from Monday's eagerly (for various and conflicting reasons) anticipated interview with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The chat has been pre-taped, and it looks fairly casual and comfortable. Oprah asks if Levi Johnston -- her almost son-in-law and future Playgirl model -- will be invited to Thanksgiving dinner. In answering, Palin actually says, "We're not really into the drama. We have other things to concentrate on."



The question that won't go away

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Only Tom Cruise -- who jumped up and down on Oprah's couch in an effort to prove his hetero love -- is dogged as much by the same persistent question. It somehow sticks to Oprah, too, the lingering query: Is she gay?

Opah's best pal Gayle King -- and the one most often suggested as her more-than-friend -- once again tried to put the rumors to rest by saying, hey, if we were a couple, we'd tell you!

The rumor was stoked once again, this time by Rosie O'Donnell, who made these comments on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show late last month:

Rosie: "I don't know. I think [Oprah's] never been married and she's exceptionally close to Gayle. I don't know that she and Gayle are necessarily doing each other but I think they are the emotional equivalent of..."

Howard: "A gay couple."

Rosie: "When they did that road trip, that's as gay as it gets. And I don't mean it to be an insult either. I'm just saying, listen, if you ask me, that's the couple."

O'Donnell recently broke up with her partner of several years.

Monday night at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York City, King answered the implication by denying the couplehood to "Access Hollywood."

"The thing [is], if we were gay, we would tell you," King said. "We would so tell you. We wouldn't try to keep that a secret because there's nothing wrong with being gay. So if we were, we would tell you. The truth of the matter is we're not. It's hard enough for me to get a date on a Saturday night as it is. This isn't a rumor I'm trying to continue to explore, but no there's nothing, there's nothing wrong with it."

King has said this before, back in 2006 declaring the same sentiment: "The truth is, if we were gay, we would tell you, because there's nothing wrong with being gay." Oprah herself at the time said, "I understand why people think we're gay. There isn't a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women. So I get why people have to label it - how can you be this close without it being sexual?"

King this week added that she actually isn't bothered by the speculation. "I love that question," she said. "That never bothers me because it's so silly."

Sources inside Oprah's camp, however, are plenty bothered by it. One source tells Sun-Times celebrity columnist Bill Zwecker that they are none too pleased with O'Donnell's comments. Oprah herself allegedly has "warned" Rosie to knock it off.

Oprah has been in a relationship with Stedman Graham for years, though there was speculation in August that the two were having difficulties and might split. But they must be fine because here he is discussing their life and love in a new interview.

Book Club author signing copies in Chicago

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110609author.jpgThe author of the short story collection Say You're One of Them -- the 63rd selection of Oprah's Book Club -- will be in Chicago next week for a book signing.

New York Times best-selling author Uwem Akpan will sign copies of the book from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday at The Oprah Store, 37 N. Carpenter St. (312-633-2100 , www.theoprahstore.com).

Winans cut from show till abuse charges settled

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Oprah Winfrey is removing gospel singer BeBe Winans from her show's "karaoke challenge" until charges against him for allegedly pushing his ex-wife to the ground are resolved.

Winans appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last week and was seen in promos for future appearances. Now he'll be cut out of the segment, said Winfrey spokesman Don Halcombe on Thursday.

Winfrey was criticized by some bloggers this week for including Winans after she had taken a strong stand against domestic violence earlier this year. She did a show on the topic when singer Chris Brown assaulted his then-girlfriend Rihanna.

The daytime TV leader said at the time: "Domestic violence is something that I wouldn't tolerate. Period."

Halcombe would only say that the decision to eliminate Winans was made this week. It was not clear if Winfrey had been aware that Winans was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault in the Feb. 13 incident, where Winans and his ex-wife Debra were allegedly arguing about their children. Winans has a court date set for Jan. 20.

Winans' manager did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.

"Let's just not have a double standard on domestic violence or even accusations of domestic violence," said Joni Reynolds, a woman from the Baltimore area and author of a blog called Ebony Mom Politics.

She had called attention to Winans' participation and wondered if Winfrey had overlooked the charges because the Winans were friends or because there were no photos that had become public as in Rihanna's case.

Reynolds commended Winfrey for deciding to take Winans off the show.

AP

Oprah show moving out of Chicago?

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Oprah is in talks to move her Chicago-produced show to Los Angeles in 2011, Deadline.com blogger Nikki Finke reports.

With the show's syndication contract to CBS up in 2011, Winfrey would be free to move the show to her own long-delayed cable channel, Oprah Winfrey Network.

Finke reports that Winfrey's struggling network has had trouble launching without the daytime diva's own talk show. The Discovery Communications associated network allegedly gave Winfrey the ultimatum to move her show to the new channel or risk losing the cable network entirely.

Winfrey will reportedly make the announcement public within the next several weeks.

Yes, that's Sherri Shepherd in 'Precious'

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Sherri Shepherd is nearly unrecognizable as Cornrows, a school receptionist in the film "Precious."


Sherri Shepherd certainly gets around -- in a good way. She's a co-host on "The View" every morning. She plays Tracy Morgan's wife on "30 Rock." She's been the "best pal" in sitcoms like "Less Than Perfect." She's got her own sitcom now, "Sherri," on Lifetime.

She also has a small part in the new Oprah-acclaimed movie "Precious." But don't ask Oprah to comment about the performance. She didn't even recognize Shepherd in the movie.

So says Shepherd in this red carpet chat at this week's AFI Fest ...

Chicago-based sex columnist Laura Berman interviews Shepherd about the new film here ... on Oprah Radio.


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