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From the Archives: The Strange Genius of Oprah

Earlier this week, the entertainment industry blog Deadline Hollywood reported that Oprah Winfrey will be moving her talk-show to her own cable network when her contract with CBS expires in 2011. Her production company responded that she has not yet made a final decision. No matter what Oprah decides to do, the rumors and speculation can only help her popularity, and as Lee Siegel wrote in a TNR cover story in 2006, the true genius of Oprah is that she blurs the line between her private life and entertainment life so well:

“In TV terms, Oprah's multiplication of herself into simultaneous actual, fictional, and didactic selves was on the order of Picasso inventing cubism … If Oprah is in a fake romance, and if she is gay, neither reality would contradict her public advocacy of courage, fortitude, and growth through suffering. Rather, her seemingly calculated intimations of a hidden second life only strengthen her hopeful message of ceaseless personal possibilities.”

If you haven't yet, it’s worth reading this definitive piece on the Oprah phenomenon.