Oprah, the Queen of all Media

At least a year ago, Oprah Winfrey realized her ratings were in a slump, so she started editing herself, holding back on preaching the word of God to her faithful viewers.

Out were the soothe-sayers like Eckhart Tolle and the master classes he shared with Oprah on the World Wide Web.. In were Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

She didn’t hear the voice of God; she heard the voice of her sponsors.

And so Oprah, the savvy woman she is, delivered big time in her last season. There were huge giveaways, including a trip to Australia for two hundred of her viewers, cars and makeovers. Oprah even opened up her own closet and gave a devoted viewer a  pair of her $5,000 shoes.

She proved to everybody in her final season that she truly was the Queen of all Media.

In her last week on the air, her staff brought out the big guns. Everybody who was anybody — especially in the black community — showed up to bow to Lady O. It was the television equivalent of a massive fireworks display with stars exploding on to the stage.

Even Maria Shriver took time out from her busy divorce to give Oprah a final hug.

So when the final show arrived, everybody was expecting an extravaganza,  a show of shows: giveaways, special guests, the President laying hands on his faithful servant.

What they got was a lecture on God.

In the end, Oprah just couldn’t help letting the cat out of the bag.

She really does think she is the Messiah.

It was one of the worst series endings of all time.

It wasn’t even as good as the Seinfeld farewell.

Oprah, a talking head, doing something I’ve never seen her do in 25 years: standing up for an hour lecturing her audience.

She always knew she was special. She always knew she had a calling. If you fallow my wisdom, you all can have callings too. Sure you might not make billions of dollars chasing your spirit. You might have to sacrifice. But put everything down and do what I did — follow God to your place in the world.

Truth be told, Oprah followed the money.

She isn’t the evolved human being people think she is. She rarely travels out of her comfort zone; she just sits in her office and has her staff of two hundred pitch her stories. Like Lady Gaga, Oprah has lived in her own cocoon and maintained a routine that isn’t much different from many of her viewers. She walks her dogs, makes her lunch, heads to the office, then to the gym, goes to the hairdresser, then puts on a pair of shoes she’d never walk in, sits down, does her job and goes home.

She’s in bed with a book by 9 p.m.

Only difference is that Oprah’s routine is more opulent and self-contained than most of us.

She doesn’t have to get into the car and drive to the gym, or the hairdresser. Everything she needs is in one building; it’s called Harpo Studios.

She is rich and can do anything, but in reality, she’s lived an extraordinary sheltered life. She has no idea what lies in the real world.

She’s about to find out.

Now that her daytime show is over, she’ll have to take on the task of saving the Oprah Winfrey Network, which is expected to lose a whopping $57 million this year. When the network first went on the air, it was projected to be in 80 million homes yet it has only attracted 179,000 viewers.

So far, OWN has proven to be a spectacular failure.

Part of the problem, of course, is Oprah is nowhere to be found, except in some pillage footage from her main show. The rest of the programming is cheaply produced reality fare that is no better than on the other lifestyles channels. Oprah hasn’t been able to utilize all the stars she created — Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray to name a few — because these folks are all committed to syndication deals. So she’s having to rely on a few B players — Shania Twain, The Judds, Sarah Ferguson and the cringeworthy Rosie O’Donnell — to get her through, along with her ridiculous sidekick Gayle King who is actually hosting a radio call-in show on television.

Unless her higher power can find a way to physically clone twenty-four Oprahs, it seems pretty clear that OWN will fail.

People might be surprised by this. They say, “what do you mean? Everything she touches turns to gold.”

This is untrue. Nearly everything Oprah has tried outside of television has failed in spectacular fashion. Her play, The Color Purple, flopped on Broadway. Her films were disasters at the box office. Her girls’ school in South Africa has been the subject of abuse investigations.

She’s been able to weather these storms not because of her link with God but because she’s so damned rich, she can recover personally.

And she’s always had the Oprah Winfrey Show to fall back on.

Until now.

Maybe Oprah will surprise us, maybe, maybe not.

The next chapter will be interesting.


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