Friday, November 20, 2009
So in the last 24 hours, no fewer than two dozen people have sent me e-mails excitedly passing along the news that -- ding, dong, the witch is dead -- Oprah will be closing the curtain on her daily talk show in 2011. One would have to assume that "wiping the puss off the horrific face of a woman who was attacked by a chimp" was the final thing on the list of human experiences that Oprah hadn't yet achieved and once that was done, I mean, really, where else can you go?
Admittedly, this would be great news -- except for the fact that the end of Oprah's stranglehold on the American soccer mom attention span for an hour a day is pretty much meaningless. Sure, her show as it currently exists will be over, but Oprah always be with us. There's no way that anyone who's that thoroughly self-obsessed could fall off the public radar and spend the rest of her life sitting on a couch somewhere dropping bon-bons into her gaping maw like some sweet-toothed megalodon.
We'll still have the magazine (which features her face on the cover every single month), her book club (which consistently elevates crap and diminishes truly vital art until it all reaches the same level of easily-accessible, pop culture mediocrity), her radio and cable network (which push the Oprah brand harder than a street-corner pimp), and of course -- her daily TV show.
I say her daily TV show because what's really driving this decision is Oprah's admittedly impressive business savvy. She knows full-well that, ratings juggernaut or not, broadcast television is dying and cable and the internet is now where it's at. In other words, you can pretty much guarantee that she'll be moving her show to her own cable channel come 2011 -- 2012 at the very latest (not coincidentally, the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar).
Make no mistake: In the end, Oprah's decision makes her simply the latest celebrity cash, ahem, cow to dump the networks -- but she ain't going anywhere.
(Update: This is great.)