"Who will be Oprah's last star?" asks the New York Times in its new article about the end of Oprah the talk-show, which happens in 2011. When that day comes, must our dreams of reaching stardom die? Of course not!
Yet some people are very worried about the end of Oprah's long-running show. "With the show's finale at the end of May 2011 (some call it the Oprah-calypse), and only a limited number of guest appearances up for grabs, the would-be chosen have their work cut out for them," says Times article by Stephanie Rosenbloom. A media coach who actually wrote a how-to guide about getting booked on Oprah tells Rosenbloom that people are "scrambling" for that final shot at glory and fame. It seems that for some people, getting on Oprah is not just a funny thing to daydream about, but a life goal worthy that requires focus and purposeful steps.
How purposeful? One woman Rosenbloom chats up, a clothing designer, has a personal mantra that goes, ""Passion. Drive. Oprah!" Another source, a historical fiction writer, has created a blog all about getting her book on Oprah before the show ends. ("I feel as though making it into the coveted NY Times is bringing me one step closer to Oprah's couch with my novel," she writes on her blog.) But my favorite example of Oprah-mania is Canadian film blogger Emmanuel Lopez's positive visualization project, which involves taping his head on printed-out screengrab photos of people like Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey, and other past Oprah guests. The inspiration comes from the movie The Secret, which Oprah helped to make popular. (I can almost see these reconstructed photos being turned into popsicle puppets that Lopez could use to act out his Oprah-related fantasies. Would his puppet jump up on the couch, a la Tom Cruise?)
Rosenbloom refers to people's perception of an Oprah appearance as the "express lane to the American dream." And sure, many of the people who have sat on her furniture over the years, or caught her eye, have indeed hit it big: Dr. Phil, Eckhart Tolle, and (though he surely regrets it now) semi-memoirist James Frey. But what about all those people who didn't make it? Oprah's been on the air for almost 25 years; even with stretches of reruns, that's a lot of shows, and a lot of guests whose names we don't and won't ever remember.
In reading the Times article, I was reminded of my parents' constant talk about "some day winning the lottery." When I was six, hitting the jackpot sounded like the solution to all of our problems. Of course, this was the early 1980s, and my dad was laid-off from the steel mills, and we were dining on government cheese, and desperation was in the air. Eventually, my dad ended up getting employed again, and we were back on financial track. But the talk of Super-Millions whatever persisted, and does so today: "If we win the lottery, you won't have to worry about those student loans anymore," my dad sometimes says to me on the phone.
I wouldn't say my parents are deluded. Far from it: after working with their hands for decades, they're about as hardcore realistic as it comes. And I think they realize deep-down that winning the lottery is a pretty unlikely occurrence. Maybe that's why they haven't started a blog about it, or taped their faces on anybody's picture. But still, it's a little pie-in-the-sky to count on something so random; I'd say the same dynamic applies here, given how many novelists, clothing designers, bloggers, and other people are competing for that couch space.
Then again, maybe I'm being judgmental. In a lot of ways, it's admirable that people are so gung-ho about getting some face-time with Oprah—it shows they believe in what they're doing enough to imagine themselves in front of that coveted national audience. And it conveys that "anything is possible" spirit that can be truly hard to muster at a time of high unemployment rates, housing foreclosures, terrorism terrorism terrorism, and other depressing subjects. These folks are daring to dream, and dream big—which Oprah would probably support, right?
At any rate, if any of these folks don't make it on Oprah's show, maybe they can get their own program on the Oprah Winfrey Network, which launches January 1, 2011.