Friday, December 02, 2005

Oprah and Dave: Reunited and It Feels So Good

I watched Oprah Winfrey's return to Dave Letterman's show last night, and it was a strange, and I'll go ahead and say it, exhilarating experience. (I know, I need to get out more.) Far from the genial and boring celebrity chat it could have been, there was palpable tension throughout the interview, and it was a long one. The tension, in this case, derived from a guest expecting at any moment to be mocked, and a host trying desperately to assure his guest that she was in safe territory.

Usually on the Late Show, before the first guest comes out, Dave does a dopey and not terribly funny gag of some kind, varying between dropping something in water to see if it will float (a kind of Mr. Wizard-style homage to bored, dumb-guy "science"), to having pre-selected audience members answer surrealistic trivia questions about cuts of meat. Then the top-ten list, and then the first guest. Last night, they ran through all of that as quickly as they could, and all of it was Oprah-related. No matter who the guest has been, politicians, heads of state, movie superstars, I've never seen the show roll out the red carpet like that. Dave Letterman's been hounding Oprah to come on the show for a long time. It seems every time I tuned in during the past year or so (which was infrequently) there's been some reference to Dave asking Oprah if she'd come on the show, and being rejected. Their doomed-to-failure quest was kind of funny and a good gag for them. And so, in the strange, rarified world of the Late Show, an actual appearance by Oprah would be akin to, say, George W. Bush himself appearing on the Daily Show. A huge deal. You could tell he and Paul Shaffer were both a little nervous before she came on. I was getting nervous vicariously. And then he calls her out.

It was very strange to see her in that setting. I've seen Oprah a bunch of times in the 20-some odd years she's had her own show, and it was weird to see her a) outside her studio, and b)in a place where she felt she wasn't safe. It was clear from the onset of the interview she was expecting sly, mean-spirited mockery from Dave, and she seemed ill-at-ease. But Dave was very solicitous and very complimentary, saying a number of times how "great" she looked, setting his hand on the arm of her chair to show her how sincere and engaged he was. He kissed her hand like five times before and after the interview. She wasn't shy about calling Dave out on one of his antics over the years. She said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Just to show you that it's over, whatever there was is now over, I brought you a present." He opened a box and before the viewers could see it, he laughed. "Are you sure it's over?" he asked. Then he took it out and held it so the cameras could see. It was a signed photo of herself and Uma Thurman, referencing his Academy Awards gag where he made fun of their names. By the end of it he was asking her to describe at length the charitable work she's doing in Africa. As she talked about it (a school for girls in South Africa, among other things) she kept asking, "You sure you want to hear about this?", thinking that their interview was supposed to be light and frothy. And at other times she'd break in with, "I can't believe you're being so nice to me." Judging by the frequency of this declaration, one might suspect Oprah was expecting Dave to pull out a gun and shoot her in the knees. He did not -- he made no jokes at her expense (though one small one at Dr. Phil's) and directed his mockery solely at himself. When it was over, he led her to the theater where her production of 'The Color Purple' is playing on Broadway. They held hands the whole way (pictured above), with flash bulbs going off non-stop-- kinda weird, but it made for soem good photos to show, with a single image, that the "feud" was now officially over. Anyway. It wasn't a funny interview, but it did prove that either Dave has put away forever his "Mean Dave" persona, or, more likely, that he's just put it away for Oprah.

All right, that's it for this week. Hope everyone has a good weekend.


Anonymous said...

chocolate boobs

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what your thoughts on the new Christian movie Narnia? And about chocolate boobies.

Peggy said...

1 - Who doesn't love chocolate boobies? I do, and I'm a chick. If it's chocolate, I'll eat it.

2 - Narnia is a bunch of poo. If you want to watch some real movies, try Harry Potter 1-4 or the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I'm not just saying that because I'm a nerd, but also, because these are great movies.

JudgeHolden said...

Excellent comment, Peggy.

And I don't know how into chocolate boobies I would be because something like that would probably be made in the same factory that the edible underwear is made, or the genital-shaped pasta, or the genital-shaped suckers/lollipops. At least that's how I picture the factory of adult-oriented food products working, though it's probably not like that. Either way, I wouldn't eat chocolate in the shape of boobs because I would just think of the dark factory where it was produced -- it looks a little like Axis Chemicals in the original Batman movie.

As for Narnia, I'm not averse to seeing it. I'm told it's very Christian and that CS Lewis intended it as a Christian parable and because my belief system is diametrically opposed to CS Lewis's view of Christianity, I shouldn't support the movie with my movie-seeing dollars. Philip Pullman, an author I read and respect (he wrote the His Dark Materials trilogy for young adults), says the Narnia books are "poisonous". From what he's said, it sounds like the arc of one of the characters is pretty terrible. But if the movie itself isn't poisonous, then why not see it? If these folks have made a good, entertaining movie, why not see it? I didn't see Passion of the Christ because I didn't care to see Jim Caviezel pretend to get tortured for an hour. Call me crazy. But what in this movie, exactly, is going to offend my sensibilities? That the lion is a stand-in for Jesus? That it's an allegory for... Christian... stuff? I don't know. I think the fantasy label almost trumps the Christian label, and if the reviews say it's good (Ebert and Roeper have already given it two thumbs up), then I might go have a looksee (alone I'm sure). I'll go to support good fantasy movies -- there are a bunch of fantasy books out there that I'd like to see made into movies and if this one tanks, then Hollywood's going to get skittish about making any fantasy movies for a while. But if I don't see it, it will be because the trailers haven't moved me to see it -- so far, they make the movie look like so much warmed over Lord of the Rings. King King, on the other hand, is sounding better and better. Munich, too. said...

Hmmm... I wouldn't care if the movie was a propaganda film for the Christian right or not. If it's good, then it's good. It's the idea of beholding where you are not in awe of something and therefore seeking it out and you're not detesting it either, but rather you're beholding it.