When Harry Met Oprah

These days, it’s much easier to bury Caesar than to praise him, and even though I like to think I’m a better person than that – I’m not.  Given the opportunity, I’m right in there, shovelling the dirt with everybody else.  So it was with a little bit too much glee that I noticed there’s going to be A Royal Event on March 7th.  Buckle up, boys and girls, because the Queen of Jell-o Journalism, Oprah Winfrey, has granted an audience to the Queen of Southern California, Meghan Markle.  Not since Henry VIII of England met Francis I of France on the Field of The Cloth of Gold in June 1520 has there been this much Royal star power in one place at one time.  In fact, there’s a danger that the San Andreas Fault may buckle under the weight of their combined egos.  But, what an occasion!  In a more civilized time, there’d be jousting and jugglers, puppet shows and magicians, minstrels and at least a dozen suckling pigs.  Unfortunately, the 21st century is a dark, joyless age, so, we’ll have to settle for two women talking (more about that later.)  However, I do not exaggerate when I speculate that over a billion people will tune into this regal — uh – conversation.

Wow!  This is a match made in celebrity heaven.  Meghan Markle, former suitcase girl on Howie Mandel’s Deal or No Deal, gets to sit on the same sofa that Tom Cruise bounced up and down on.  And even though, before May 19, 2018 Winfrey wouldn’t have given Markle, the second banana on a 3rd rate TV show, the time of day (never mind a spot on the vaunted Oprah sofa) Meghan’s the one who’s going to help Ms. Winfrey kick that little upstart Ellen off the top of the TV ratings pyramid.

Of course, the actual television show won’t be anything special.  The two women will trot out the usual suspects — how difficult it is to be filthy rich, how the media (present company excluded) are a bunch of dicks, how the Royal Family were unreasonable and why — as a mother — Markle just wants to give her children a normal life.  (On that last point, when you can rent Disneyland for your kid’s birthday party, that “normal” ship has kinda sailed.)  Anyway, Winfrey will call Markle “brave” a couple of times, she’ll share a cute anecdote from the wedding and maybe squeeze out a tear or two.  Then, they’ll take a break … “And when we come back, Prince Harry will join the conversation.”  WHAT?  That’s right!  For the first half of the program, Harry isn’t even going to be there!  He’s going to be cooling his heels, nice boy, in the Green Room.  Frankly, I’m not surprised.  After all, it would be totally out of character for Meghan Markle to share the spotlight of her magical moment on Oprah with anybody else – including the guy who got her there.

In the end, they’ll all agree that, despite the horribly hard row Mr. And Mrs. Mountbatten-Windsor have had to hoe, they are just an ordinary couple who want to shun the public eye (Yeah!  That’s why you’re on Oprah!) and have a normal life.  Oprah will give everybody in the studio audience a diamond tiara.  “You get a tiara!  You get a tiara!  You get a tiara!  Everybody gets a tiara!”  Both brands, Harpo and Archewell, will get a kick up the Social Media ladder; both PR entourages will do some high fives; and everyone will go home happy with a job well done.   

Meanwhile, however, in a dark corner of the cutthroat world of Daytime TV, Ellen, the nastiest sycophant on the planet, will be beating the bejesus out of her producers, screaming “What the hell am I paying you for?  Those two cash cows should have been mine!”

Winter News


Late winter news is never as weird as late summer news, but sometimes the combination of too many coats and too much cold just aligns the stars properly and strange things peek out.  Here are a couple of items I found that might tweak your brain on an otherwise ordinary day.

I don’t ever wish bad luck on anybody (That stuff has a tendency to come back and bite ya!) but this week’s Oprah Winfrey news just screams “just desserts” — with extra sprinkles.  The news is Ms. Winfrey has lost somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 million dollars from her investment in Weight Watchers.  We all know that for someone of Winfrey’s financial girth, 40 million is chump change, but still there’s a certain poetic justice here.  The thing is Oprah Winfrey made her money (at last count $3.5 billion) from telling women there’s something wrong with them – and then mercilessly selling them the cure.  (Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the headlines on any O Magazine.) Therefore, it seems only fair that she should lose some of her ill-gotten gains while trying to suck even more cash out of the self-help industry.  Karma’s a bitch, huh?

Meanwhile, according to France Vingt-Quatre (the Gallic equivalent of the BBC) Le Beverley, a quiet little movie theatre on a quiet little street in Paris, has closed.  It seems the 90-seat cinema simply wasn’t pulling the customers in anymore and the owner, Maurice Laroche, 74, decided it was time to retire.  And this is news because …?  Le Beverley was the last porno theatre in Paris.  Actually, “erotic” movies have always been a respected part of French cinema.  Back in the day (I’m talkin’ late 70s) many of them (Emmanuelle, Immoral Tales, Tendres Cousines) even made their way into the mainstream.  Unfortunately, these days, when every movie except Toy Story has a complimentary nude scene, most people don’t understand that erotic is a whisper, not a shout, and they just call it all “porn” and get on.  Anyway, Le Beverley, like most movie theatres that aren’t Multiplexes, has disappeared into the 21st century where Netflix is king and Pornhub gets 80 to 90 million views a day.  (That’s right! A day!)  Personally, I’m not much for porn, but, considering Parisians invented the modern porn industry by selling racy postcards to uptight Englishmen, I think it’s only fitting that their last erotic theatre should get a few international headlines.

And finally:

A guy from the Isle of Wight has written a book — with his nose.  Apparently, Josh Barry (who has Cerebral Palsy) just got tired of dictating his thoughts and decided “The hell with it: I’ll do it myself” and for the last nine years has been typing away – one letter at a time – and now his book is finished.  Normally, I’m not interested in inspirational tales at all, but this story has such a cool “Archy and Mehitabel” vibe that I’m going to go with it.  Honestly, I can’t imagine this kind of perseverance, but, the next time I’m moanin’ about a 500 word Friday blog, I’m going to try my best to take a page out of Josh’s book, cowboy-up and just get on with it.

Lance Armstrong is a Jerk

lanceThe headlines should read “Lance Armstrong is a jerk!” That’s the beginning, middle and the end of anything else ever written about the guy — and not because he pedaled his ass over the Pyrenees higher than the Matterhorn. At this point, who cares? Come to find out, most of the cyclists at the Tour de France have so many drugs in them, their pee has been patented by Dow Chemical. Here’s an interesting fact: since 1980, France’s most prestigious bicycle race has been won 17 times (that we know of) by the gentlemanly use of performance-enhancing drugs – that’s over half! So, it’s not like doping is unusual. Nor is he a jerk just for lying about it. What was he going to do … admit it? That would be like Al Capone phoning Eliot Ness to admit he owned a couple of speakeasies. No, Lance Armstrong is a jerk because he thinks he’s smarter than the rest of us. The unfortunate thing is he might be right.
The sordid details of Mr. Armstrong’s misdeeds have been reported to death, so there’s no need to retrace them here. Suffice it to say that Lance concocted an elaborate chemical scheme to turn himself into a superhuman. It succeeded beyond his wildest expectations, and he basked in glory for many, many years – collecting the accolades, admiration and cold, hard cash that come with athletic success. However, Lance didn’t stop there. He wasn’t content with two, four or even six championships: he wanted seven, and when he got that he even tried for eight. The audacity of the man is unbelievable. There he was, year after year, doing things no human being (not even his drug-bloated competition) could accomplish and smiling about it. What did he think? No one would notice? Or, did he simply believe that he could fool the entire world forever? These are rhetorical questions that only Mr. Armstrong himself can answer; which brings us to January 2013, nearly 14 years after Lance first sacrificed his honour for Tour de France laurels. Tomorrow, he’s going to sit down in front of the world and confess his sins. And we’re all waiting to hear it.
However, there will be no ordinary press conference for Lance Armstrong. Helance1 will not be relegated to a shame-faced confession and a couple of sincerity tears that get slotted into the morning news — after the headlines, traffic and weather. Lance is going prime time, and the three-ring media circus he’s hauling with him is being brought to you by the 20st century’s Uber Agony Auntie, Oprah Winfrey. In an ingenious attempt at reviving two faded careers, Lance and Oprah have organized an interview extravaganza. This two-night stand is designed to put them both back, wall-to-wall, on video screens around the world. It’s an arrangement made in public relations heaven.
Ever since Oprah decided she needed a whole network because (a la Norma Desmond) she was big and it’s only the television stations that got small, she’s fallen out of the sky. Like it or lump it, her audience numbers just aren’t there, anymore. Even, in an election year, Barack and Michelle couldn’t rekindle the old Midwest magic. So Oprah has unleashed her formidable Harpo publicity machine to tease the world into believing a guy who rides a bicycle is big news. They’re treating it like some magnificent media mating with hints, innuendos and voyeur-style sneak previews. I’m no follower of Freud, but Oprah herself is quoted by the BBC as saying, “At the end of it…we were both pretty exhausted. And I would say I was satisfied.” Make of that what you will, but it certainly is intriguing.
For his part, I’m sure Lance is considering a seven-figure book deal to pay the legal bills when all the people he lied to come calling. Oprah’s celebrity (faded as it is) isn’t going to do him any harm there. Besides, who better to confess to than the High Priestess of Jell-o Journalism? It’s not like she’s going to ask him any hard questions like, “Did you think the French were morons?” Plus, as long as he doesn’t jump around on the sofa, she’s going to make him look good.
This Lance and Oprah show is almost guaranteed to go off the scale on the ratings meter. It’s become an event. So, at the end of the day, maybe Lance Armstrong is smarter than the rest of us. He’s never going to be treated like the smarmy little cheater he obviously is. He’s probably going to write a book and maybe even get a movie deal. In fact, after tomorrow, his future is going to look pretty damn good.
However, it doesn’t matter how many times he confesses to God and Oprah Winfrey. It doesn’t matter how many stagy tears collect in the corner of his eye or how much remorse (real or imagined) he says he feels. At the end of the day, he’s not about to give back any of the money he “earned.” And until he does that, he’s just a jerk.