Archive for the ‘Oprah Winfrey’ Category

Wide World of TV: All Five of This Week’s Blogs

January 29, 2016
This week's TV blogs: Top - "Lucifer" on Fox, Kirstie Alley vs. Oprah; middle - NATPE programming session, Trump vs. Megyn Kelly; bottom - Mike Nichols.

This week’s TV blogs: Top – “Lucifer” on Fox, Kirstie Alley vs. Oprah; middle – NATPE programming session, Trump vs. Megyn Kelly; bottom – Mike Nichols.



NEW YORK, Jan. 29, 2016 — TV commercials emerged as the subject of two out of this week’s five MediaPost TV blogs. One blog dealt with the dueling weight-loss commercials of Oprah Winfrey and Kirstie Alley, and the other imagined a world without commercials at all — something that’s already happening in some corners of the TV biz.

Read these blogs, plus three more, with these links:

Monday, Jan. 25: Sympathetic Devil: Fox’s ‘Lucifer’ Has Roguish Charm

Tuesday, Jan. 26: Kirstie, Oprah In Heavyweight Battle Of Weight-Loss Commercials

Wednesday, Jan. 27: TV Without Commercials? That Reality Is Already Here

Thursday, Jan. 28: Trump’s Absence Tests Whether Debates Can Thrive Without Him

Friday, Jan. 29: Mike Nichols ‘American Masters’ Documentary Is Not To Be Missed

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Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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Annals of Oprah: Why OWN isn’t working

May 7, 2012

Has Oprah lost her touch? Probably.


NEW YORK, May 7, 2012 — Oprah Winfrey’s OWN isn’t working for the simple reason that Oprah herself seems passé.

Why opine on this subject now?  Because the news is all over the place this week that losses are mounting at OWN.

Among other places, a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal says Discovery has sunk $312 million into OWN with no predictions of profitability except for a lukewarm forecast that losses are expected to continue through 2012.

So has Oprah lost her touch?  In a word, yes.  How?  Well, that’s always hard to say.  For some, the decline in her influence stems from the repetitive statements she issues continually, in public appearances and interviews, about “her journey” and “her mission” and her “legacy.”  Truth be told, it all feels tired, not to mention off-putting.

It also comes across as self-centered and egotistical, as if the viewing audience has some kind of stake in helping to ensure Oprah Winfrey achieves fulfillment in her “journey” and accomplishes her “mission,” which has something to do with empowerment and living one’s “best life” and yada yada yada.

Taken together, the shows on OWN play like the TV equivalent of having to eat your spinach.  And here’s an observation I once made about self-help: I once was acquainted with a guy whose bookshelves in his New York City apartment were filled with self-help books — perhaps the most I’d seen in any one place that had been purchased over the years by a single person.

Perhaps he was sincere in his search for guidance when he bought these books, but I was fairly certain he hadn’t read very many of them.  More than likely, he read part of them, perhaps the introduction and first chapter, and then never finished them.  Why?  Because self-help books, like self-help TV shows, are decidedly unentertaining (is that a word?).  In fact, I can say from personal experience with the few self-help books I have tried to read that reading them is a chore.

Try watching “Oprah’s Life Class” — yes, a “class” about “life” led by Oprah, with the assistance of some guest motivational speaker — and you’ll see what I mean.

When you really stop and look at it, there never really was any evidence, much less a guarantee, that Oprah Winfrey could build an entire TV network from the ground up in the first place.  She was hugely successful in a variety of endeavors in the TV business, but launching an entire network was not on her resume.

Oh, yes, there was plenty of evidence that Oprah was capable of making a lot of money for herself and anyone who had the good fortune to go into business with her.  She’d done so with her syndicated daytime show, which probably generated — what? — a billion dollars or more over its 25 years.  And she added to that sum with the other daytime shows and personalities she championed and developed — Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Rachael Ray.

But even more than those successes, the impression that Oprah could mine gold from virtually anything she touched began to form long ago, when her (seemingly) off-the-cuff endorsements of exotic soaps or artisanal popcorn could make the entrepreneurs behind these products suddenly flush with orders, not to mention money.

Nothing represented Oprah’s power in this regard more than her impact on the book business.  Sure, that was fun while it lasted, especially if you were the publisher of some book Oprah just happened to read recently and then mention on her talk show.

But like afternoon talk shows, the book business has changed a lot in the last few years.  Who knows if Oprah could drive book sales today, when books themselves are looking more and more passé.

Certainly, a prominent TV personality falling victim to changing tastes is no crime, especially if you’re Oprah and already a billionaire.  You know, most people don’t get a chance to strike it rich twice in a lifetime.  And it could be that Oprah’s best life was the life she had when she dominated daytime TV for one hour every afternoon.

Now, those halcyon days are gone, and it appears increasingly unlikely that Oprah will be able to return to anything resembling them anytime soon.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Click HERE to read what I wrote back when Oprah was preparing to ditch daytime TV to start up OWN

Contact Adam Buckman:

Oprah’s farewell: Long good-bye takes three days

May 26, 2011

HASTA LA VISTA, BABY: Oprah Winfrey waves good-bye. (Photo: (c) 2011 Harpo, Inc./George Burns)


NEW YORK, May 26, 2011 — The final “Oprah Winfrey Show” Wednesday consisted of little more than Oprah standing on her stage and talking.

For her millions of loyal fans, this must have been heavenly.  For the rest of us, who tuned in to her final show (the 4,561st, as Oprah herself pointed out) expecting a bit more excitement – perhaps some fireworks, a big cake, a brass band – the show was a bit of a letdown.

On the other hand, as Oprah said repeatedly, this particular show wasn’t really for those of us who didn’t regularly ride the Oprah train to inspiration, validation and self-fulfillment over the last 25 years.  This show was for those who did ride along with Oprah on this “journey” (her word) that began back in 1986.

With the Paul Simon song “10 Years” (the one he converted to “25 Years” in her honor earlier this season) playing as a theme in and out of the show’s commercial breaks, Oprah took her stage at Harpo Studios in Chicago for the last time.  Dressed in a simple pink dress, she stood for the whole hour (though a white chair was there in case she needed it) and spoke to the audience.

“This last hour is really about me saying thank you,” she said when she took the stage.  “It is my love letter to you.”

“I wanted to spend this last hour telling you what you’ve meant to me,” she said, one of many times she would thank her viewers in the course of this hour-long speech (some might call it a sermon), in which she shared details from her life story (as she’s done many times before), imparted various life lessons, and even preached about the meaning of God.  “God is love and God is life!” she exclaimed. “And your life is always speaking to you, first in whispers . . .”

And so it went.  There were no celebrity guests, though Tyler Perry was recognized from his seat in the audience because of his participation in a show earlier this season about men who had been sexually abused in boyhood.  Oprah’s fourth-grade teacher was in the audience too – the one who Oprah still calls “Mrs. Duncan” – and who apparently had a profound impact on the young Oprah.

If there was any central theme to this show, it was nothing less than the meaning of life, which is a lot for any one person to take on.  And yet, Oprah doesn’t shy away from such challenges.  She advised her viewers to “use your life to serve the world.”  She talked about the Golden Rule and the importance of “validation.”

“There is a common thread that runs through all our pain and suffering and that is unworthiness,” she preached, advising viewers to “validate” the ones they love.  Tell them: “What you say matters to me!” Oprah beseeched.

Toward the end of the hour, the commercial breaks came more frequently.  After all, television is a business and the breaks near the end of this particular show were valuable indeed.  Finally, after one last break, the end was near and Oprah said her final words.

“I thank you for sharing this yellow brick road of blessings,” she said.  “I thank you for tuning in everyday . . .  I thank you for being as much of a sweet inspiration for me as I’ve tried to be for you.  I won’t say good-bye.  I’ll just say, Until we meet again.  To God be the glory.”

She then strolled out of the studio, stopping briefly for a few hugs and greetings, then continued walking down a narrow corridor lined with members of her staff.  At the end of this gauntlet, she encountered her small dog Sadie.  Lifting the dog into the air, Oprah declared: “Sadie, we did it! We did it, Sade! We did it!”

And then Oprah, with Sadie under her right arm, disappeared behind a pillar and was gone.  Until we meet again.

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