Tag Archives: oprah

Oprah, Kathleen and Heavy D: we got our OWN thang

O, the wonders of photoshop

So, yesterday Oprah was talking to me (like she does several times a week). I was a little preoccupied with something on my laptop, but when I finally looked up at her she looked me right in my eyes (to make sure I was really paying attention, I suppose) and she said,

“Here we are, this is our day. This is our moment.”

She was talking about our new OWN network, of course–you know, the one we launched on January 1st.  She insisted to me that (even though her name is the only one on the logo) it really is OUR network, and darn it, I believe her.

I know she said the same thing to you, I mean, I’m not crazy. I know she wasn’t talking only to me when she said this network is for us, but I must say that so far the programming choices come pretty close to exactly what I would love to see on television. I especially love the show called Master Class.  <click to see the promo if you haven’t seen the show yet–it’s (in Oprah’s voice) really good.

I won’t list the complete schedule, but in addition to Master Class I’m super geeked about these shows: (OWN’s descriptions)

The Miracle Detectives: Do miracles really exist? Or is there a logical explanation to the seemingly inexplicable? Two investigators; one a believer, the other a scientist will travel the globe to uncover answers to mysterious incidents that transcend logic

Mystery Diagnosis: Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to real-life medical mysteries—ailments that go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. Their lives are thrown into turmoil—sometimes their sanity is called into question

Searching For: Viewers can expect an intensely personal ride when cameras follow Pam Slaton, a professional investigative genealogist, and her clients through each step as they track down lost loved ones.  Whether Pam’s clients find a joyous reunion, painful rejection or tragic loss, they all walk away with the closure they were desperate to find. (Pam has an 85 percent success rate, follows a strict “no find, no pay” policy, and is one of the most sought-after professional searchers in the country.)

The Gayle King Show: Start your day off right with Oprah’s best friend and O Magazine Editor-at-Large Gayle King, as her hit radio show comes to television every weekday on OWN. Gayle’s live talk show will offer her unique perspective on an array of topics ranging from current events and cultural trends to politics and more, all while bringing viewers closer to their favorite celebrities and notable public figures with her revealing, compelling daily interviews.

I love Gayle. I think she’s really down-to-earth for someone who is the best friend of one of the most powerful women in the world. (Sorry, I digress.)

Anyway, by now you’re wondering, what the heck does Heavy D have to do with any of this? Well, ever since Oprah started talking to me about this OWN thing… Heavy’s “diddly diddly diddly dee” has been stuck in my head. I know I can’t be the only one who mentally plays the song when the OWN network promos come on.

“We Got Our Own Thang” by Heavy D and the Boyz <listen to a snippet.

Although not all the lyrics in the song are going to be to Oprah’s liking (you know how she is about hip hop), this part of the song is perfect for what OWN is all about:

“In this life, I strive for improvement
Be your own guide, follow your own movement
Loving is a legend
Me, I’m legendary at it…

Stay self-managed, self-kept, self-taught
Be your own man, don’t be borrowed, don’t be bought
Started with a pow and I’m going to end it with a bang
We’ve got our own thang
We’ve got our own thang”

How is that not the theme song playing on the OWN promo?
Maybe Will.i.am and Heav could do a remix for you…
Oprah, it is our network, right?




The sexiest teacher alive: don’t let the Clark Kent disguise fool you

I mean no disrespect to Geoffrey Canada’s wife, but her husband is my idea of what a real man looks like.

Okay, okay, before I get myself in too much trouble, let me clarify that in using the term “sexy” to describe this married  father of six, I am respectfully referring to the non-erotic definition: “arousing intense excitement.”

Just so you know, I’m not the only person in the world admitting to being intensely excited by the man. Geoffrey has aroused the ardor of a diverse body of media personalities including David Letterman,  Ed Bradley, Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper, Oprah Winfrey and Glenn Beck.  When Oprah first laid eyes on him she flung her arms wide for a hug and gushed, “I just want to kiss you.” (I’m feeling you, O.)  The President of the United States called Canada “a pioneer…saving a generation of children.”  First lady Michelle Obama referred lovingly to him as “one of my heroes,” and an award-winning documentary about him entitled “Waiting for Superman” (yes, that is a reference to Geoffrey) was released this fall to critical acclaim.

If you’re not up on what this man does for a living, I’m going to have to let you Google that, because as ambitious and awe-inspiring as it is, I am on a more personal mission here.  Here’s the short version of why he’s garnered so much attention:

Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone is transforming a 97-block area into a community of stakeholders whose primary focus is educating the program’s 8,000+ (mostly poor) children to such high levels that 100% of them will graduate from college. (Yes, you read that right.)

What Mr. Canada does is undoubtedly worthy of great respect and praise, but why he does it should also be the subject of a documentary as far as I’m concerned.  What motivates a man with a Master’s Degree from Harvard to invest it in Harlem? We can easily observe that  he shows incredible passion and tenacity in pursuing quality education for all, but what exists deep down in the man that leads him to devote his life to saving other people’s children?

Geoffrey says the calling to serve his community rang in his ears at a very young age–on one of the saddest days of his life.

“…my mother told me Superman did not exist.”

He cried.

“I read comic books and just loved them because even in the depths of the ghetto you thought, ‘He’s coming, I just don’t know when, because he always shows up and he saves all the good people’.”

Geoffrey’s mother thought he was crying for the same reason a child mourns upon learning that Santa Claus is not real, but even at such a young age, he knew his loss of Superman had devastating  implications.

“I was crying because there was no one coming with enough power to save us.”

Some fifty years later, while most of us stand around arguing about whether it is poor leadership, ill-prepared teachers, uninvolved parents, disinterested students, or a multitude of other excuses for why millions of children are being academically shortchanged, this man chooses to focus instead on high expectations and successful solutions.

The urgency he feels about educating children is reflected in this excerpt from a poem entitled “Don’t Blame Me,” written by Canada in 2007.

If there is a God or a person supreme,
A final reckoning, for the kind and the mean,
And judgment is rendered on who passed the buck,
Who blamed the victim or proudly stood up,
You’ll say to the world, “While I couldn’t save all,
I did not let these children fall.
By the thousands I helped all I could see.
No excuses, I took full responsibility.
No matter if they were black or white,
Were cursed, ignored, were wrong or right,
Were shunned, pre-judged, were short or tall,
I did my best to save them all.”
And I will bear witness for eternity
That you can state proudly,
“Don’t blame me.”

I love this super man.

Give Oprah a friggin’ break

Let’s suppose for a moment that we all agree on this premise:

The purpose of life is to

  1. Love and be of service to others
  2. Develop one’s own emotional, intellectual, creative and spiritual potential to its fullest
  3. Positively influence the emotional, intellectual, creative and spiritual growth of others
  4. Leave the world a bit better than it was when you arrived

(You’ve probably noticed the list doesn’t include anything that refers to allegiance to a specific religious figure. That one is between you and God so we’ll leave it closed to outside scrutiny.)

I don’t know where you are on your list, but, um… Well, let’s just say I hope I have at least another 50 years or so left to work on mine, ’cause I’ll likely need every second of that time to accomplish even 1% of what Oprah Winfrey (who was born to a single teen mother and raised in a house with no electricity and no running water) has in her 50+ years. But hey, maybe I can get a little extra credit for having raised a houseful of kids with little assistance from my ex-husband.

When you are at the helm of an empire as gargantuan as Oprah’s, it is a given that you will have sacrificed much in your personal life along the way. After watching her recent interview with Barbara Walters, I have gained a profound respect for Oprah’s dedication to perfecting her craft, and her unbelievable work ethic–but I find myself wishing that she and Stedman had produced some children. With the kind of career ambitions Oprah held from a young age, I can completely understand why she didn’t feel like motherhood was her path, but it just seems impossible to me that she and Stedman wouldn’t have raised some beautiful kids that would have added value to the world. I know, I know, what happens or doesn’t happen in the woman’s womb is none of my business, but as with all public figures, it’s always tempting (and easy when you’re not in their shoes) to speculate on what they should or should not do with whatever they’ve got.

Despite the fact that Oprah is tested on a daily basis with the kind of wealth and power that would turn many of us into self-aggrandizing heathens with little concern for the lives of others, I would venture to say the number of souls she’s purposely helped (so far) in her lifetime far outweighs any she’s purposely hurt, and despite the fact that her “brand” generates billions in corporate profits, the legacy she’ll leave when she’s gone will certainly be one of inspiration, transformation and personal growth. And, according to Oprah, she’ hasn’t even really gotten started yet.

When asked by Barbara if she felt like she’s accomplished the greatness she was born to, Oprah replied,

“I feel that I’m still in process…as great as the past 25 years have been–just astounding, I mean really the word ‘AWEsome’ does apply–I think it was just the beginning.”

I was a guest on Oprah’s show many years ago, which impacted my writing life and my career in countless ways I won’t go into here, but I’m not one of those Oprah worshipers who believe she walks on water (if that were possible, believe me her producers would have already made a show about it). No. Oprah’s no saint (nor has she ever pretended to be). The woman is certainly flawed, as all of us humans are, but it amazes me how many vicious haters she has in the world. I mean, really. Give the woman a friggin’ break already.

Frankly, I’m not sure what kind of person I’d be if I was worth 2.3 billion. (Not that I wouldn’t like to find out.)

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Barbara Walters’ interview, I have posted it below. (Thank you to CelinishAnime for uploading the 5-part interview to YouTube for our viewing pleasure.)

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