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When I heard the first reports of Whitney Houston’s death at age 48, just hours before she was set to perform at the legendary Clive Davis Grammy Eve party, I was neither shocked, nor stunned nor saddened in contrast to the mounting numbers of television reporters and fans gathering at the Hilton Hotel where her lifeless body was found in her fourth-floor bathtub. I had already grieved the loss of Whitney Houston for more than a decade.

I have now spent what remains of “Grammy weekend” wondering if all the people around Whitney Houston throughout the second half of her life were enablers, unwitting or not. Or did they help extend her life throughout these final turbulent years. Read the rest of this entry »

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WHAT DO YOU THINK  IS THE “BIG SECRET” OPRAH WILL REVEAL MONDAY? SEE BELOW FOR DETAILS

She’s said this family secret “shook her to the core.”

They don't know who the father is, but could the egg donor be Oprah?

7) The Piers Morgan interview wasn’t really one of the toughest interviews in 20 years. It was the toughest in the last 20 minutes.

6) She’s fixing Fergie’s show for OWN by updating the old the Patty Duke Show and adding Snooki.

5) Oprah”s not retiring at the end of this year.  She’s signed on to co-anchor with Anderson Cooper.

whoops, she said it was a family secret…

4) Kitty Kelly was right; Vernon Winfrey isn’t Oprah’s father; he was Elvis’ dad.

3) Gayle King is her mother and her sister

2) Oprah is the egg donor for Elton’s baby.  Meet Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John-Winfrey?

and the #1 family secret?

1) Oprah’s baby boy didn’t really die in the hospital and, according to the date of birth that fits the time frame, it’s either Tyler Perry, P.Diddy,  Bobby Brown or Chaz Bono…. or (drumroll….) the shadowy guy we got a glimpse of in the promo!

ADD ON TO THE LIST OF  SECRETS  YOU THINK OPRAH COULD REVEAL MONDAY

**** SIBLING UPDATE:

It’s now Gayle, Oprah and Patricia, the half-sister who was separated at birth.  Now the ultimate study/test of nature, nurture. Poor Pat was raised in foster homes, but at least as far as we know, wasn’t molested by men around the house, as was Oprah. Now she belongs to someone… and it’s not Kitty Kelly or the tabloids, and she can thank her new big sister for that!

HOW LONG BEFORE PIERS MORGAN GOES LIVE, ADDS MULTIPLE GUESTS? START THE OFFICE POOL NOW

KING REPLACEMENT STILL LIKES HIS INTERVIEWS PRE-TAPED — NOT SHAKEN OR STIRRED


Whew, what a relief that Piers Morgan’s first week is over.  We can both relax now.  I don’t really know how he felt, but I certainly was  full of anxiety watching.  Imagine getting hired to replace an icon like Larry King.  The set, the suspenders, open heart surgery (or as he awkwardly called it with Bill Clinton: the “zipper club.”) And all the wives we loved and lost.

Replacing a broadcast original, even if he’d acted like your embarrassing uncle some nights, is a daunting challenge.  I just couldn’t wait for those  first interviews to be over so we can all dig into reality.

YOU MIGHT AS WELL BURN THE FIRST WEEK…

No matter how strategic one tries to be, you might as well burn the first week anytime you’re stepping into big shoes, especially comfortable old ones.   And you’ve got to know the size of the shoes into which you step —  the American size, not the English size, which is smaller. (A man’s size 12 in the US is an 11 in the UK.)

Speaking of smaller, the total audience for Morgan’s show began to shrink throughout the first week, losing nearly a million viewers across all ages.

Among adults 25-54, the audience  was nearly halved by Wednesday.  But then again, anyone here could have warned in advance that Condoleeza Rice, while one of the most interesting women in the world, is not fascinating as an interviewee. Ricky Gervais, on the other hand, is — especially right after his Golden Globe controversy.  But “right after,” in our world of 24/7 news, would have been Monday, not Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »

INTERVIEW IS TOUGHEST, BUT FOR WHOM?

WHEW, WHO ELSE  BUT THE QUEEN OF TALK COULD EVER HANDLE QUESTIONS LIKE THESE…

It began at 9:00 p.m. just like this:  after days of intensive CNN promotion where we see Oprah call it “one of the toughest interviews I’ve had in twenty years,” Piers Morgan opened the door, sat down and asked the first question on his highly anticipated new talk show.  I turned up the volume, shushed my husband and leaned forward.

"one of the toughest interviews Ive had in twenty years"

PIERS: Tell me this, do you ever get surreal moments when, I’m trying to picture what it’s like being you, when you wake up in the morning and you go, ‘Bloody hell, I’m Oprah Winfrey.’

OPRAH:  Well I don’t say, “bloody hell,” but I did have a surreal moment, January 1st, when I launched my new network.

It had been only a matter of seconds before Oprah was pitching her heart out about her new cable network, OWN.  Watching the January 1st launch, she told Morgan,  had moved her to tears when she finally “got it.”   Groomed in the rough and tumble world of London’s Fleet Street, he was more than ready for his follow up.

PIERS: What does it really mean to have your own network?

With the words, “exclusive” written in the lower third of the screen*, Oprah revealed a story she had only shared with the few dozen reporters who attended her press conference at the  Television Critics Association on January 7th.  She said she never loved commercials as much as when she saw them on her OWN network. (*Full disclosure, I have over-used “exclusive” myself  plenty over the years.)

Okay, to be fair, Morgan wants Oprah to get a little something out of the interview, so perhaps it’s good to get a few warm up questions out of the way.  Let’s dig in now.

PIERS: How many people do you trust?

Oprah says about 5 or 6, but she’s not going to say who they are.  Oprah’s on to him now and lets him know she’s not going to discuss what she told Barbara Walters about Gayle.

PIERS: Typical Oprah, you nailed the lie!

Oprah makes it very clear that she will never address those “rumors” again.  And Morgan backs off, but not before Oprah explains why she cried in the Walters interview while discussing her friendship with Gayle.

Having been warned by Oprah not to tread on “rumor” territory, or to expect her to cry again, Morgan deftly backs her in a corner with this follow up:

PIERS: How did Gayle react to your reaction?

OPRAH: She said, ‘that’s so nice.’

It turns out, Gayle didn’t have a chance to see the Barbara Walters interview until they were in Australia, something which made Morgan absolutely collapse in laughter.  But then he composed himself in order to continue Oprah’s toughest interview.  Read the rest of this entry »


WHY OPRAH’S OWN SEES RATINGS DIVE IN WEEK #2

Oprah: "she sure can talk"

When Oprah Winfrey first announced the creation of OWN, she revealed she had once written in her journal “that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold.”

Well, three years and $168 million later, we have now seen the future, and it is — extremely disappointing. Not just in the number of viewers who pulled the escape hatch after the first few days, but why they are bailing.

OWN promises to recycle 5,000 hour of the Oprah Winfrey Show starting this September.

Who wants to watch more recycling than you’ll find at a plastic bottle processing center.

I’m not certain how this has happened given the OWN brain trust with Oprah as chairman, the amazing Tom Freston as top advisor, and the awesome Christina Norman, the CEO. The bottom line: OWN is a stodgy old bore.

Even worse, while they were forgetting Oprah’s own recipe for success, a quiet little Columbus Dispatch newspaper reporter went instantly viral with his story of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice.

Talk about dream fulfillment.  Today Oprah told Entertainment Tonight she was thinking of ways to fold Ted Williams into OWN.  Really? Doesn’t he have enough benefactors on his bandwagon.   Instead, why not hire that unsung Columbus Dispatch reporter and give him a show to find the other jewels of humanity who are still living on the street or in makeshift tents?

Thursday, Oprah met with members of the TV Critics Association where some  suggested she had actually staged a filibuster to avoid addressing real issues of OWN. Here are some of the questions tv critics didn’t have an opportunity to ask: Read the rest of this entry »