Thursday, September 15, 2011

Whatever Became of Oprah Winfrey?

Where is she now?

You probably remember the name.

Once she was the Queen of American Media.

But the Oprah Winfrey story is yet another in the long line of sorry McLean Stevenson/ David Caruso/Shelley Long Gonna Blow This Popsicle Stand and Become a Big Star scenarios.   Sadly it takes just one show business flop for even the highest and mightiest to join these less than illustrious ranks.

For Oprah Winfrey, it was Reach for the Skies, a television show in which she starred as a City of Chicago vice cop who’s also an angel. Despite a high-rated premiere episode in which special guest Tom Cruise played someone who is not gay, the show sank faster than Governor Chris Christie in a bottomless dunk tank.

The highly touted special effect in which Ms. Winfrey’s feathery wings punched out pimps and pushers, comforted weeping crime victims, and reached for a Snickers --- often all in one take --- failed to find favor with viewers.  Similarly the syrupy Mitch Albom-crafted dialogue often did not go down well, especially when thrust into the mouth of acerbic frequent guest star Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel

And a weekly episode-ending epilogue in which Ms. Winfrey sat around humorously mulling over the night’s adventures and drinking coffee with God had to be scrapped when God demanded to be paid “at least as much as Steadman.”

Reach for the Skies lasted six (6) episodes. When Ms. Winfrey came out to do her tearful farewell on the final show, even Gayle King was watching America’s Best Staring Contests on Fox.

To be sure,  Ms. Winfrey tried other ventures. She started a television network named OWN, which somehow failed to attract expected viewership with programs like  Oprah Winfrey Presents: My Favorite NotaryAnyone I’ve Ever Met Has Loved Me, and Best Memos I Ever Wrote to Tom Cruise, Who is Not Gay.  Soon viewers began abandoning OWN in record numbers, often moving great distances at severe hardship to areas where the cable company declined to carry it.

Meanwhile Ms. Winfrey's cash-strapped magazine --- named O because she couldn’t afford additional letters in the title --- was forced to resort to scandalous tabloid journalism, all of which was about Ms. Winfrey since it was cheaper than paying reporters to make up scandalous tabloid journalism about anybody else.  Ms. Winfrey sued O Magazine for libel  seven (7) times, continually getting away with it until courts started catching on that she herself was the one who made up the headline Oprah Winfrey Has an Alien Baby; Now You Can Too!

Over the next several years, Oprah Winfrey was largely forgotten.  The public, you see,  has a short memory.  

Don’t believe that? Quick, what did I just say the public has a short one of?

Ah, crap! Thanks for helping me prove my point, jerk!

One day Ms. Winfrey was accidentally caught on YouTube in the process of shop lifting, trying to bench press an entire Pier 1 Imports.  Out of this came remembrance, redemption, and a small nonspeaking part in the upcoming Here’s Shelley Comedy Hour!”

I hope many of you will be watching.

Cause I won’t.

Gayle, Steadman, and me just love us our America’s Best Staring Contests on Fox.