Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Hey, y'all. I don't know quite whas'sup with Oprah these days, but it seems her "farewell season" has to trumpet "a Very Special Oprah" every damn day now.
Having survived the Kitty Kelley debacle (the most unflattering star bio I have ever read), she's all geared up to put on Memorable Shows about Memorable
No issues, however. Not even Favorite Things, that gluttinous orgy of empty materialism. Most of them have to do with movie reunions. Oprah is big on reunions, not having been to her high school one (can you imagine the mob scene? The devastation to the buffet table?).
I recently sat through a Sound of Music reunion with the entire cast (actually it was nine people, and I really think the credits rolled for longer than that). An aged but wicked Christopher Plummer talked about his drinking binges during the shoot, and revealed that his nickname for the saccharine picture was "The Sound of
Oprah asked the eldest von Trapp daughter (I think it was the one who dated the Nazi: can't resist a man in a uniform!) what she had learned on the shoot. "Chris taught me a lot," she said sweetly. "What did he teach you?" (A life lesson that changed the course of her existence?)
"He taught me how to drink."
So much for "doe, a deer, a female deer," and all that rot. (Maybe it should have been "dough"). But hark! What see-est I now-est? She's doing it again, the reunion thing, only this time with the movie she refers to wistfully as the high point of her life, The Color Purple. Even back then, in '84 I think, when she was relatively unknown and had never acted before, she somehow butted everyone else out of the
So now we have a Reunion of the Entire Cast, consisting mainly of a wisecracking Whoopi Goldberg (laying to rest rumors of a monumental feud sparked by Oprah cutting Whoopi out of a prestigious Legends Weekend to honor "accomplished" African American Women. I guess multiple Oscar nominations and 25-year careers aren't enough.)
Anyway, we got to see Whoopi's deluxe toilet, which was a blast and a half. She has a nice house, huge rooms. OK. We know Oprah is big on luxe housing. Then she trotted out Danny Glover, Rae Dawn Chong (what the - ?), and a few others we forgot about, the dame who played Shug Avery and all. Stephen Spielberg sent his video greetings, and Quincy Jones, looking half-stoned and sounding like Harry Belafonte on a bad day, was wheeled out to represent Living
So what exactly was wrong with this show, aside from the kind of terminal gushing we used to see on SCTV's Sammy Maudlin Show? Why were there only a couple of references to Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple, THE MUSICAL? I don't know much about it. No one does, because I don't think it did very well. Too grapey, or something.
But that's not what fried me.
What fried me is, this all started somewhere. The movie, I mean, and all the surrounding gush, and even the vulgar Broadway musical with Oprah's name
above the title (even though she wasn't in it anywhere).
Somebody, like, at some point, kind of, uh, er. WROTE THIS
I'll give them this: there was one, very brief mention of Alice Walker, with a shot of her that was on for maybe two seconds. Then they quickly moved on.
Let me tell you how wrong that
If it weren't for Alice Walker's quirky little gem, NONE OF THESE PEOPLE WOULD BE UP THERE ON THAT STAGE.
None of these people would have had the career break of a lifetime by being cast in a Spielberg film that garnered 11 Oscar nominations (but no wins: another shutout, it seems. Oprah defends it by saying "it was ahead of its time". Does the name
Beloved mean anything to you?), had it not been for the diminutive,
brilliant woman
who penned the original novel in a sort of hypnotic trance.
I don't think Alice Walker got rich.
She went on writing, which is what real writers do, though no doubt The Color Purple is still her best-known work. Given its obscurity when the movie was made, it's doubtful she was paid a fraction of what the actors made (even the lesser-known ones).
Kitty Kelley's book talks about how Oprah quickly "dropped" Alice Walker once the movie contract had been signed. Kind of the way she "dropped" Whoopi, after Whoopi made a little joke in public about Oprah's absolute power in talk-show land.
Never mind that it was
In spite of a lot of posturing, Oprah is uncomfortable with certain true things, and in spite of all her bafflegabbing, she must hate authors too. Remember poor James Frey being fried, live on the air, and wanting to commit suicide as a result? The drug memoir he wrote, A Million Little Pieces, turned out to have some fictionalized elements. Show me a memoir that
Oprah's naivete in this regard reveals that she isn't the sophisticated reader she pretends to be. She should have known that almost all memoirs are partly fictional. If anything, it's a sign that he actually wrote it
The next Oprah gush-a-thon will be a unique, one-of-a-kind, unforgettable Barbra Streisand show (hey, it went over well last time, and moved a lot of albums), in which Barbra floats onstage in a diaphanous floor-length Davinchsky gown and the same banged bob she wore in Funny Girl. (For some reason, really big stars get
frozen in time, especially regarding their hair.
You see it whenever they interview 95-year-old starlets from Hollywood's Golden Age, their lacquered 1940s do's sitting atop ancient faces bizarrely rearraged by primitive plastic surgery.)
Barbra still sings, but her voice is now in the lower register, and she no longer belts because she can't. Why she's doing all this after 30 years of being publicity-shy is anybody's guess. (Another album?) But soft! What comes next, I wonder?
Why. . . speaking of bad face lifts. . . it's. . . it's. . .
It's Robert Redford, in a VERY VERY Special Oprah, a reunion of the Cast of The Way We Were!!!
God, haven't some of these people died by now?