June 2010 Archives

Reporting with Natasha Korecki & Sarah Osterman

Rod Blagojevich and John Harris are floating names for the U.S. Senate seat on the next tape. Blago suggests Oprah Winfrey.

"That's crazy," Harris says.
"That's where you're wrong," Blago replies.

Blagojevich is increasingly out of breath while he's talking; the sound of weights clanging is audible in the background. It sounds like he is working out at home while discussing the appointment.

Rod: "She made Obama ... she's a Democrat."
Harris: "You're looking for a celebrity to be your friend?"
Rod: "She's so up there, so high ..."

Later, Rod keeps brainstorming: "Maybe a black Albert Einstein," he suggests. At that, one African American juror gently shakes her head.

Blagojevich is insistent that they "bolster the list" of potential candidates -- even if it means looking outside of Illinois.

"Who outside of Illinois might fit the bill?" he is heard asking Harris. He mentions Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example.

Harris tries to talk him out of it.

"Picking somebody outside of Illinois has a whole host of problems," Harris tells him. "(They'll say), 'There are 13 million residents (in Illinois), Rod hates them all.'"

Read more about the Blagojevich trial here.

Voters of the hopefuls trying to get their own show on Oprah Winfrey's new network are accusing the Queen of Talk of rigging the contest.

Winfrey's new cable channel, OWN, has been holding online casting calls for 'Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star.' The reality show will premiere next year and get a prime spot on Winfrey's channel.

Last week, fans started to speak up against Winfrey--stating that people were fraudulently stuffing the online ballot box, according to the New York Times.

Some fans have even suggested that Winfrey herself was behind the scam.

In a statement, the OWN channel spokesperson said that no "contestant has been favored in this competition," but that an investigation would be undertaken and that all votes would be verified twice. The five most popular online contestants will go before a casting director, but only one is guaranteed a spot on the reality show, though OWN could choose to add more than one. A total of 10 in-person and online contestants will vie for a spot; eventually the show's winner will be hired by OWN."

As of Sunday, the top two runners Zach Anner and Phyllis Wick-Turner were separated by two million votes.

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BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Chicagoans appreciate Oprah Winfrey, but they also respect her privacy, Mayor Daley said today, disagreeing with Stedman Graham's portrayal of his longtime partner as the Rodney Dangerfield of Chicago.

Graham says Oprah gets no respect in her adopted home town as she prepares to pull the plug on her syndicated talk show and pull up stakes for California.

Daley respected Oprah so much, he closed off Michigan Avenue for two days to make way for her 24th season premiere. He also invited her to Copenhagen for, what turned out to be Chicago's failed Olympic sales pitch.

Today, the mayor was asked about Graham's remarks and took issue with them. Respect is one thing. Appreciation is quite another, Daley said.

"One thing about Chicagoans -- we respect your privacy. She could be in a restaurant. She could be at the East Bank Club, walking down the street. People don't run up to her. ... They respect your privacy. That's unique about Chicago," he said.

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FROM STAFF REPORTS

Oprah's longtime partner, Stedman Graham, says Chicago doesn't "appreciate" the daytime queen of talk and that she hasn't gotten her "just due."

"I think they take her for granted a lot," Graham said in an interview this week on Fox Chicago News as he discussed Oprah ending her show.

"I really don't think they appreciate her," Graham said. "I don't think they understand the value of who she is as a human being and what she's done."

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