Oprah Gets Godlike; Trump Gets Presidential

Tuesday, 26 Apr 2011 04:51 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. The Gospel According to Oprah Winfrey?
2. Obama Mines More Tinseltown Gold
3. Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee Trade Jabs
4. Tyler Perry: Spike Lee Can Go to Hell
5. Trump: The Art of the Real Presidential Deal
 

1. The Gospel According to Oprah Winfrey?

An academic study confirms what many observers have suggested to be the case: that Oprah Winfrey is the purveyor of a religion.

Having studied almost every episode of Oprah's television program for the last 12 years, a Yale professor concludes that Oprah's success is based on her ability to transform herself into a religious icon.

Religion professor Kathryn Lofton examined transcripts of more than 1,560 shows, 105 issues of O magazine, 17 issues of O at Home, 68 Book Club selections and 52 Spirit Newsletters. She sets forth her findings in a book, "Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon."

According to the study, the most important moment in Oprah's career occurred in 1994, when the TV host changed the direction of her program.

"The time has come for this genre of talk shows to move on from dysfunctional whining and complaining and blaming," Oprah said at the time. "I have had enough of people's dysfunction."

"Her spiritual revelation was converted into a corporate makeover," Lofton told The New York Post. "Her show became 'Change Your Life TV.' As a part of this new look and focus for the show, she began to develop her brand, including, eventually, the book club, the magazine, the website, and her Angel Network."

By using a Southern preacher's rhythmic speech pattern with a sermon-like structure, Oprah has been able to create a new "gospel" for each show. The message of her programs became what Lofton refers to as "The Gospel of You."

"Gospel is a word that means 'good news,'" Lofton said. "Oprah says that the good news is 'you.'"


2. Obama Mines More Tinseltown Gold

He came, he spoke, he cashed in.

President Barack Obama recently headed west to woo Left Coast libs in the entertainment biz. His presidential panhandling efforts managed to raise several million dollars.

The wealthy and reliable Tinseltown donors were expected to be supportive of the president's announced goal of raising one billion in campaign dollars. In attendance at one fundraiser, the high-priced $38,500-per-plate dinner event, were Steven Spielberg, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, and George Clooney.

Part of Obama's re-election pitch included attempts to defuse liberal frustrations with the pace of his administration's push toward European socialism.

Despite anemic numbers for recent growth, the president bragged, "We've pulled this economy out of a recession."

In what is sure to be a recurring stump speech that lists his so-called accomplishments, Obama said, "We've stabilized the financial system. We've passed historic healthcare legislation to make sure 30 million people aren't going to go without coverage. We have repealed 'Don't ask, don't tell.' We have put two women on the Supreme Court, including the first Latina."

Then came the double dribbling, which will no doubt be replayed from now until the election. "We can go down the list, but we also know we've still got a lot more work to do. We've just started, and we've got a lot more work to do," Obama said.

Hanks turned to others at his table and said, "Five and a half more years."

At a larger event at a Sony soundstage, Obama appeared in front of 2,500 supporters. Jason Mraz sang "I'm Yours" with some special love lyrics for Obama.

The president referenced the "birther" issue in his comments, while still managing to flatter his supporters. "You all got involved when the prospect of electing Barack Hussein Obama was slim," he said. "None of you asked for my birth certificate. It was a complete leap of faith."

In what may be the re-election campaign equivalent of "Yes We Can," Jamie Foxx led the crowd in a chant. The new mantra? "Let Him Finish."

To which folks all over the country are adding the word "Last."


3. Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee Trade Jabs

In one corner, a conservative radio host and Fox News personality. In the other, a conservative radio host and Fox News personality.

It's a match-up between Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee.

For the better part of a week, the two men have traded jabs.

Beck swung first, labeling Huckabee a "progressive" because of the former Arkansas governor's defense of First Lady Michelle Obama's attempts to influence what folks choose to eat.

Huckabee responded via his blog and radio show, claiming that Beck had effectively labeled him a "Nazi."

Beck hit back and accused Huckabee of getting material from the George Soros-funded Media Matters, saying, "Interesting how you would go to 'Media Matters' talking points when you feel it would benefit you, Mr. Huckabee."

Beck also suggested that Huck is too "thin-skinned" to run for president and brought up one of Huckabee's most sensitive topics, a gubernatorial clemency decision for a man who went on to commit another crime.

I wonder if Spike TV is working on a cage match for these two.


4. Tyler Perry: Spike Lee Can Go to Hell

Spike Lee has decided to play the role of film critic, giving a thumbs-down to Tyler Perry's "Madea" movies.

The most recent installment, "Tyler Perry's Madea's One Big Happy Family," debuted last weekend in second place at the box office, with almost $26 million.

Calling them "coonery and buffoonery," Lee maintains that the "Madea" flicks "harken back to Amos 'n' Andy."

Perry's response: "I'm so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee. Spike can go straight to hell — I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: 'You vote by what you see,' as if black people don't know what they want to see."

It could be a case of a jealous bone. Lee, who has helmed the likes of "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X," hasn't come close to Perry's amazing track record of more than a half-billion box-office bucks.


5. Trump: The Art of the Real Presidential Deal

At first a lot of political observers were chalking up the potential presidential candidacy of Donald Trump to a conveniently timed publicity stunt.

As time goes on, though, it seems that even if Trump weren't serious when he initially began talking about the GOP nomination, he is now.

Despite some fierce attempts by establishment Republicans to diminish Trump's appeal, he has become a bona fide presidential contender, as exhibited by his standing in several polls.

No matter where party leaders fall on the trepidation scale, all have had to come to grips with the Trump reality. In the most recent Gallup poll, the real estate mogul and "Celebrity Apprentice" host ties for first place with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both garnering 16 percent of likely Republican voters.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney follows with 13 percent. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich — an establishment choice — gets a modest 6 percent show of support.

Much of the media attention has focused on the so-called "birther" issue, which Trump has skillfully invested with an air of legitimacy in the public discussion. Voters, however, are largely resonating to his appealing rhetorical spunk, a quality perceived to be sorely lacking in the GOP leadership as well as in several of the other Republican alternatives.

The Rev. Franklin Graham, whose father, Billy Graham, served as spiritual adviser to several presidents, has given Trump a boost, should he decide to run in the early primaries.

On ABC's "This Week" Graham said that Trump could be his choice to go up against President Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

"Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well, this has got to be a joke," Graham told anchor Christiane Amanpour. "But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe this guy's right."

"So, he might be your candidate of choice?" Amanpour inquired.

"Sure, yes," Graham answered.

Trump has also drawn the attention of some big-name celebrities, including actor Robert De Niro, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and former TV sitcom star Charlie Sheen.

In a "Nightly News" report on the Tribeca Film Festival, NBC anchor Brian Williams interviewed De Niro, who became animated over Trump's inquiries into the failure of Obama to produce his original birth certificate and other documents.

"I won't mention names, but certain people in the news the last couple weeks, just, what are they doing? It's crazy," De Niro said. "They're making statements about people that they don't even back up. Go get the facts before you start saying things about people."

Williams specifically asked whether De Niro was talking about Trump. He nodded, and then added, "It's like a big hustle. It's like being a car salesman. Don't go out there and say things unless you can back them up. How dare you? That's awful to do. To just go out and speak and say these terrible things? Unless you just wanna get over and get the job. It's crazy."

Seinfeld expressed his disapproval of Trump's political rhetoric by pulling out of an appearance at a September benefit for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a charity event organized by Trump's son, Eric.

At a tour stop in Washington, D.C., Sheen, too, in his inimitable way, weighed in on the Trump tussle. The actor talked about running for president himself, saying, "For starters, I was [expletive] born here, how about that? And I got proof! Nothing Photoshopped about my birth certificate."

According to The Washington Post, the birth certificate quip drew "boisterous applause" from the crowd. Evidently, though, Sheen later felt the need to distance himself from Trump. While in Sunrise, Fla., he advised against voting for Trump because cufflinks that the Donald had allegedly given him turned out to be worth $60 upon appraisal, not $100,000 as originally represented.

Putting the birther issue and celebrity comments aside, it is interesting to note that the Iowa Republican Party's website now sports a large picture of Trump as a promotion for a speech that he is scheduled to give at a June fundraiser. Displayed in conspicuously large type are the words, "An Evening with Donald Trump."

The event is slated to take place following the "Celebrity Apprentice" finale. It will also occur after what may be the announcement that Trump will, in fact, run for president.

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