April 11th, 2010

[What I’m Reading] The New York Times Chimes in on Kitty Kelly’s Exhaustive Oprah Book…

Oprah is so controlled, so overproduced, that we only see what she wants us to see. That’s why this book could be so fascinating.

How did Ms. Winfrey leap from asking porn stars whether they got sore (during her early talk show career) to the grande dame status she enjoys today? Here Ms. Kelley does have something useful to impart: She knows a thing or two about diva behavior. So she describes Ms. Winfrey’s allusion to Kennedy family members as her “relatives.” She catalogs the loot at lavish Winfrey parties. She ticks off financial research even when it’s meaningless (records show that a researcher and a freelancer in Ms. Winfrey’s employ each contributed $250 to Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, perhaps at their boss’s behest) and tsk-tsks about the vast sums thrown by Ms. Winfrey at her girls’ school in South Africa, where the staff was poorly vetted but the thread count on the dormitory sheets was a matter of record.

When did Ms. Winfrey swan into the V.I.P. room in the Twilight Zone? Perhaps when she began talking about herself in the third person. (“Oprah does not walk.” “Oprah does not do stairs.”) Perhaps when a television show staff member began kneeling to put the star’s shoes on her. Perhaps when she first had a bathtub molded to fit her body. “I think I’m just becoming more of myself,” Ms. Kelley quotes her as having said — to someone, sometime, somewhere — “which is better than anybody can imagine.”


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