Oprah, the celebrity whisperer: Did they really just say that?
What is it about Oprah that she can get the world’s most famous celebrities to spill their guts? Does she cast a spell on them? Does she temporarily blind them so they can’t see the camera rolling? Whatever her secret, Oprah is the go-to host when celebrities need to unburden their conscience, bear their soul, or just make an a** of themselves. Here are a few examples…
Of course, the world is spinning for different reasons over Lance Armstrong’s admission that he doped and used performance enhancement drugs — after years of denying it. So now the question everyone wants to know is, why? Why admit to it now? And who in his life knew? It has been alleged that ex-wife Kristin knew and participated in the doping fun, but what about Sheryl Crow? Did she know? Did it contribute to their breakup?
Regardless of all those implicated in Lance’s web of deceit, Oprah got Lance to fess up. How did she succeed when so many others had failed? Was it simply a matter of Lance being ready to confess, or does Oprah possess some Jedi mind trick that she uses on celebrities to get them to sing like a canary? (Note: Can we talk about the set for this interview for a second? What is happening with those dreadful drapes and that bow-cha-wow glassware on those ugly tables? It looks like Oprah hosted this interview in our grandma’s basement!)
Probably one of the most memorable of celebrity bombshells, was Mackenzie Phillips' on-Oprah, on-air confession that she had an incestuous relationship with her father, John Phillips. For most of us, that would have been a really insert-chirping-crickets-here kind of moment. But Oprah carried on in her trademark, we-are-the-only-two-people-in-the-room style. Oprah paved the way for others to bear their souls when in November of 1986 she revealed on camera that she had been raped by a relative when she was 9 years old. Perhaps that revelation created an environment that made celebrities comfortable sharing their deepest and darkest secrets.
This has got to be one of pop culture’s favorite Oprah moments — it's a bit like toilet humor, it never gets old. It also began a very public Tom Cruise breakdown, that was all-at-once fascinating and painful to watch. This is where Cruise unveiled his now familiar evil, phony heh, heh, heh that we’ve seen way too much of. Oprah plays along with Tom’s couch-hopping, knee bending antics as if he’s a 5-year-old overdue for a nap. When Oprah says, “Something’s happened to you,” the audience must have wanted to shout, “Yeah, that backstage bong happened to him.” Tom seemed higher than a kite, and it’s noteworthy that Katie runs for her life when Tom and Oprah try to get her out on stage. Was she humiliated, or also stoned to the bone? Or, was she practicing for a few years down the road when she’d be running for her life for different reasons?
When she sat down with Oprah, Rihanna was trying to warn us that a Chris Brown/RiRi reconciliation was right around the corner. Oprah looks on like the doting mother as Rihanna says, “We’re working on our friendship since the restraining order had been dropped.” A trained therapist may warn of a relationship where you have to use “friendship” and “restraining order” in the same sentence, but not Oprah. Rihanna goes on to say that “my stomach drops” when she sees Chris Brown. Is that because she’s still in love with him or because she’s afraid? This is all yesterday’s news as Rihanna has been tweeting pictures of herself in Brown in various stages of undress. But Oprah got her to say it, and she got her to say it first. You go, guuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrlllllllllll.