Monday, February 1, 2010

Team CoCo, and the O Factor.

Cody:   By the way, Oprah is narrating the next generation of Planet Earth
Jen:     Oh yeah?
Cody:   Indeedy.
Jen:     I suppose she can do whatever she likes
Cody:  For all intents and purposes, she is Mother Earth now
Jen:     So true.

Oprah Winfrey, you are a pretty cool cat. Can I say that?

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of being part of the studio audience on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Unfortunately our cameras and phones were confiscated before we were allowed inside the building, so you'll have to take my word for it. The kinds of opportunities that working in advertising has put in front of me never cease to amaze me, and I was pretty stoked to be able to cross this one off of my bucket list.

Oprah interviewed Jay Leno in regards to the NBC late night lineup showdown, and the results were pretty much what I had anticipated. Seeing as Jay doesn't have ownership of the Tonight Show, the whole debacle was really a bad misstep on the part of NBC affiliates in an attempt to help two shows, both suffering in the ratings, that was handled poorly by NBC executives. It didn't really have much to do with Conan or Leno at all. After the interview, Oprah stayed around first to get audience opinions on the matter, and then to chit-chat. You can check out the video here (I'm pretty sure I'm not in it).

Two things about this whole experience stood out in my mind as particularly notable. I apologize in advance for making an outline, but that's just the kind of girl I am.

1. Oprah said that she felt inclined to do the interview with Jay because she had run a poll on her website and found that 96% of those polled were on Team CoCo. Ninety-six percent! This blew my mind, and the reasons for that are as such:

A. When has a poll shown 96% of people having the same opinion on ANYTHING, ever? Conan, please consider running for president. Apparently, you've got it in the bag.

B. Despite the fact that I am an ardent Conan supporter and longtime viewer, it never made sense to me that anyone was on any team at all. Team NBC, if anyone, is to blame. But, instead of fact-checking, or pausing for a hot minute to consider that maybe NBC execs are the ones who should be in the hot-seat, people jumped on the crucifixion bandwagon like a bunch of rabble-rousers. We Americans love to crucify our celebrities, even relatively boring ones. Fascinating!

C. As I just mentioned, I am a longtime VIEWER of Conan's shows, since high school, at least. 96% of people polled decided that they were Conan supporters. Had they been Conan viewers, this whole mess would have been avoided, and I would still be happily falling asleep to Conesies. Maybe even the Cactus Chef Playing We Didn't Start the Fire on the Flute. A very large portion of that 96% are not very good fans at all. For shame.

2. Oprah. Is. Awesome. I guess that seems obvious, right? But, perhaps not. The woman is as famous, rich, and powerful as it gets. She has the potential to be a total jerk, which would be heartbreaking for me. But, never fear, she was not.

A. She's smart. She did a great job moderating the studio audience (not always the sharpest knives in the drawer) when they started getting rabble-y, reminding them politely that this was merely a media-created sensation around a business decision. She also spoke about the scenario from her own standpoint as a media personality, as well as a business owner (imagine that - Oprah thinks of herself as a business owner). She rationalized Jay's thoughts, and provided her own viewpoints on what she might have done in his shoes (walked away five years ago, when NBC told him he was being let go). She explained why it's advantageous to own yourself as a talent, and to have ownership over your show. Listening to her talk about how she manages her brand was really something.

B. She's nice. Oprah was down-to-earth and wonderfully witty. She spoke anecdotally, like we were old drinking buddies. She cracked jokes and laughed at herself for having a cold and doing the show with a kleenex in hand, making sure to Purell anyone she touched. She thanked us kindly for coming, and maybe I'm just naive, but I felt like she really meant it. Sigh.

I guess my point is, it's really cool to find out that celebrities really are good people. I mean, they're just people, right? Perhaps the media could calm down and give them a rest every now and then. Jay and Conan aren't 15 year old girls, they're men who want to keep their jobs. And even Oprah, who is always getting such harsh criticism about her weight - girl is busy! I don't have all that much time to work out, and what am I doing? Not running a media empire, that's for sure. Seems ridiculous, the way we sensationalize this stuff. Ah, well.

The Oprah Show is in its final season, so if you're interested in participating, better jump on the ticket bandwagon! I would recommend it most highly.

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