The Shrubbery
September 1999
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Channel 1: Why Oprah Doesn't Have a Movie Club

by P. Kellach Waddle

Oprah. God Love her. Who else could have a fortune to rival that of Bill Gates and still feel your pain? But seriously, as much as this "Change Your Life TV" campaign smacks of a tad bit of megalomania, the woman does have sincere good influence on her faithful fans. Perhaps her most famous influence now seems to be her book club.

All pithy comments aside, this is an astounding effect Oprah has had. Not only do the books she picks immediately take up long-term residence on bestseller lists, but people who literally haven't read anything more than the cereal box since the Truman Administration are now, just because Oprah told them to, toodling off to Barnes And Noble as fast as their minvans will take them. Though I still cringe at this borderline Orewellian moniker of "Life Changing Television," in view of America's growing illiteracy the fact that she can suddenly make TV-addled masses actually go read a book is revolutionary, noble, outstandingly laudable and perhaps yes even...Life Changing.

However, the other day as I was deciding which of her picks to read next, White Oleander or Mother Of Pearl, something struck me. I mean, why doesn't Oprah have a club for everything, where everything she denotes as worthy would immediately be a super hit? An Oprah candy bar club ("Oprah said to eat Snickers this month!"), an Oprah vegetable club ("Honey, Oprah says to eat eggplants!!") and so on....

Why not a Movie Club? Wouldn't Oprah's bestowing of her glowing light on cinematic as well as literary picks create $100 million ticket sales at the flick of her lovely hand?

Then it hit me as I went through my past-Oprah watching Rolodex in my head...she's tried to do that. And well, let's see.. I came up with four reasons why Oprah doesn't have a Movie Club, too.

#1: She once dedicated a show to the cast of Arthur 2. I personally thought the original was an overrated mess glorifying alcoholism with a short English fellow doing his Foster Brooks impression. However, I was in the minority. Hence, her showcasing of the opening of Arthur 2 with Mr. Moore and Ms. Minelli themselves should have made a sequel to that blockbuster a hit also, right? The only further explanation needed is this question... How many of you reading this even remember an Arthur 2 before it was mentioned here?

'Nuff said.

#2: With her bibliophilic nature, how on earth could she have given a whole hour to a rather rude and unfriendly Kathleen Turner to showcase the dreck that was V.I. Warshawski? The travesty is that the mystery books featuring Sara Paretsky's opera loving detective are nifty and well-written. But that movie was a rather pitiful mishmash of three of the books' plots all collapsed into a rotten mess where the sexy, yet cerebral and cool main character was turned into a boneheaded slut. Not only was Oprah again pushing a crappy movie, but one that was a gross injustice to the books it was based on. Shame.

#3: While their movie wasn't in the same super-disaster league, Tom Cruise & Ron Howard's hour long pitch of Far and Away didn't keep movie goers from realizing it was a yawn-fest among a lot of pretty Irish scenery (Regardless of how much stoneware made contact with Mr. Cruise's "Family Jewels." Rent it. You will know what I am talking about.)

Yet, there was the beautiful talk queen herself acting like it was the next Citizen Kane...or maybe Citizen O' Kane.

#4: Finally, Rosewood, the stark movie about the burning of an entire Black southern community by racists, was certainly a movie that needed to be made. But perhaps that film's dismal box office might have been averted somewhat if Oprah hadn't been flag waving so hard for an hour that it was an "issues" movie. It might have behooved her for a film that was a hard sell anyway, to keep her sincere, yet perhaps somewhat heavy-handed preaching to a minimum while waving her injustice flag just a tad more quietly. Then perhaps maybe more than 27 people might have gone to see it.

These recollections were my answer to my query of wondering why the mighty Oprah doesn't have a movie club. It seems that if she likes your book, then the glory fame and fortune are poised to pour in like gangbusters. But if she likes your movie, perhaps you might be better off putting some trailer residents in your film who are lying about their real sex.. and then get on "The Jerry Springer Show" instead.

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