December 2009 Archives

Opraaaaaaaaah! Winfreeeeeeeeey!

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Just because we love it: Here's a compilation of Oprah screaming the names of various celebrities as she introduces them on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" during the last 25 years. Funny, but it eventually kinda makes your teeth hurt ...

Oprah's gift gab with the Obamas

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As mentioned, Oprah Winfrey was back at the White House last week, taping her upcoming TV special with the Obamas, "Christmas at the White House." It's set to air at 9 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

These video clips show President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama gabbing about gifts -- present, past and maybe the future -- during the special:

Oprah had this to say about the experience of Christmas inside the Obama White House:

"From the very first day they moved into the White House," Oprah said in a statement about setting up this special, "I started calling Robert Gibbs and asking not for the first interview because No. 1, I didn't think I was going to get the first interview for the first 100 days -- but I wanted an opportunity to sit down with them in a comfortable setting that all of America would be familiar and relate to. So I started asking when they first moved in to do a Christmas Special because I wanted to be at the White House during Christmas time and to experience their first Christmas in the White House. So this has been in the making for a very, very long time."

She goes on: "There are 27 trees and all the ornaments and all of the decorations and we were able to go to the green room, where Thomas Jefferson used to have lunch, and apparently they've not let anybody film in there before. But I got to interview the president in the green room, where Thomas Jefferson used to eat his lunch. So everywhere you move through this space, it's filled with so much history that it's pretty hard not to think about that as you're walking through the halls."

It's not all home deco and holiday hoopla. "The President gave himself a grade," Oprah said. "This was not about grilling the President, this was really about me wanting to come and experience Christmas at the White House -- their first Christmas with them. So I wasn't here to grill him, I was curious as to what he thought he had done, what kind of job he thought he had done and ask him for his grade. You'll see what the grade is. The grade might surprise you."

Oprah show ends, but at least Harpo stays

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On Monday, Oprah's production company, Harpo, announced a shake-up at the top. Button-down president Tim Bennett, 60, announced he'll retire in May and move to Santa Barbara. He's being replaced by not one but two insiders: Sheri Salata, longtime executive producer of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and Erik Logan, Harpo's executive VP.

But in announcing their appointment, Oprah said in a statement: "Harpo Productions is a world-class production company in Chicago and will
 continue on after 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' sunsets."

Does that mean at least the company is staying in Chicago?

Apparently, given this positive affirmation Salata gave to the Tribune: "We're not going anywhere," Salata said Monday. "For more than two decades, you have this relationship with Chicago -- Chicago being our hometown city -- so that is our charge here, to keep this Chicago studio strong. Without the 'Oprah' show, there definitely are some challenges to that. But at the same time, without the 'Oprah' show, the whole world has opened up in terms of the ability to take the time to do other things as well."

What other things? That remains to be seen. For whatever it's worth, Logan added this businesspeak in that same statement from Harpo: "Harpo has built its reputation on consistently first-rate content with massive audience appeal on multiple platforms. Our history of proven success, combined with our unmatched production values and our ability to cultivate talent will be key drivers of our future growth."

Will Oprah tame the Tiger?

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Tiger Woods with Oprah Winfrey on her talk show in 2001. (Harpo)

Sure, she sat down with Obama last week for a holiday special ("Christmas at the White House," this Sunday on ABC) -- but it's the other famous black American she's after for an interview.

Oprah and everyone else, that is.

The race is on to snag the first big interview with Tiger Woods after his late-night car wreck and allegations of infidelity (the tally of women claiming to have carnal knowledge of his putter is now up to six).

Oprah, ESPN and the Golf Channel say they've requested on-camera interview; HBO Sports also put in a request but was turned down, spokesman Ray Stallone told USA Today. CBS's "60 Minutes" also is likely in the hunt.

Don Halcombe, a spokesman for "The Oprah Winfrey Show," also told them they, too, have reached out to Woods. "I do know there was a blog report that Oprah had personally called Mr. Woods himself -- that is not true," Halcombe said.

But Oprah seems a likely choice for any public confession. The sports networks are following the drama, but this is only an indirect sports story. Oprah is the natural and comfortable home for such discussions -- and she has the demographic of women Woods may want to speak to in this particular instance.

Even Woods' advisers agree. The UK Mirror reports: "The golfing star's team of lawyers and PR advisers are desperate for Woods to spill the beans on Oprah's sofa, possibly alongside his devastated wife Elin. A source said: 'Everyone around him believes it is the only way he will salvage any respect or even attempt to rebuild his family man image.' "

If she lands the interview, what should she ask him?


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