What’s with the teary goodbyes to Oprah? OK, so her afternoon chat show is going dark after 25 years, but surely Oprah is not about to pull a Greta Garbo and veer off into obscurity. Trust me, she does not want to be alone. On the contrary. Be prepared to see more of Oprah in the weeks, months and quarter centuries to come. Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that Oprah has created her OWN Network, which is her own network, a.k.a. Oprah Winfrey Network. When you create a network like when Ted Turner started CNN, you become a full-throttle, in the public eye, media celebrity. Expect that and much more from our Oprah. The hub-bub leading to tomorrow’s final show is reminiscent of the PR around, “Who Shot JR?” and the final episode of “Mash”. Trust me, this will not have the same impact. Sure, I love Oprah, but when I would find myself watching the show at four o’clock in the afternoon, it was usually during a deep depression. This is not a slight intended for Oprah viewers, but if I am in bed on any given afternoon as opposed to working, that is not a good thing.
Why do I feel obligated to apologize for not fawning over the finale of this female-driven chat show? Surely this is not toodles, rather a big, fat hello. Oprah will provide the Oprah-viewing audience with 24-7, Oprah-like programming of chat shows and lovable reruns and all things fluffy. Surely there will be many searing documentary-style informative hullabaloos, but to fill a network is not easy. Look at the O Network. Outside of Janice Dickinson and reruns of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, what else is there besides the occasional bootylicious nonsense? When Oprah was on the recent Oscars telecast, I knew then that powerhouse Hollywood agents at CAA were planning to take the Oprah brand to the nth power. The goal was to dangle her before the global movie going audience, away from the context of daytime chit-chat queen.
Though I was annoyed with Oprah when she re-sealed Hillary Clinton’s glass ceiling, I have always respected Oprah and likened her to our Princess Di, since we have no real royalty in the United States and she has minions, like a Princess. But what made Oprah so successful was her Gary Cooper-like Mr. Deeds Goes To Town every person quality. She made it OK to have foibles like weight and family issues. She gave us a free pass to be imperfect, and begin to work on ourselves. Her commitment to books was beyond admirable. One can only hope that she produces a one-hour show on books alone on her new OWN. Oprah’s coverage of self-help philosophies sometimes was met with controversy. According to psychotherapist, Jonathan Alpert, “I think ‘The Secret,’ and all those other things, are absolute garbage and grossly irresponsible — telling people to hang a picture and wish for something,” Alpert says. “Without a strategic plan, they just give people a false sense of hope.” I guess you can’t tune in for an hour and think that you can heal or change without a long term personal investment, but I think we all have watched some Oprah and walked away feeling really good about ourselves. And that will always be Oprah’s greatest teaching moment.