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Lindsay Lohan appeared on "Late Show With David Letterman" Wednesday night -- their full encounter aired well past deadline -- but one little surprise was announced earlier in the day: Oprah Winfrey was on the show, too.
At least her voice was -- the former talk-show legend-turned cable mogul was on the receiving end of a phone call from Lohan and Letterman.
Letterman appeared not to be keen on the idea at first. After some prodding by Lohan and an audience chanting "Op-rah! Op-rah!" Letterman called Winfrey on the actress' cellphone, identifying himself in a disguised voice as "Lindsay Lohan's secretary."
"Who is this?" Winfrey asked, and Letterman, finally using his regular voice, admitted, "It's Dave, Oprah, it's Dave." "Oh my God," Winfrey laughed. "Very good, Dave! The David Letterman who's retiring?"
Letterman asked the chief executive of OWN how Lohan -- currently in the channel's low-rated "Lindsay" docuseries -- was doing months after production on the series wrapped, and nine months after the troubled actress left rehab.
"I think she's doing really OK," a somewhat muted Winfrey responded, adding "I think, you know, to have cameras following you around for every phase of your life, and you are trying to pull your life together, I think that's a really difficult thing, so, yeah, we're really pleased that she's making some progress."
Lohan started to tear up, and Letterman then quickly changed subjects: "Oprah, I've spent 30 years trying to pull my life together. Where the hell have you been?"
Winfrey then reminded him that they both share the same "meditation teacher." To which Letterman responded: He has switched to something "that's really fantastic: Scientology."
Welcome to TV Zone, AKA Where-the-Lindsay-Lohan-Watch-Never-Stops: To that end, she'll be on "Late Show with David Letterman" next Wednesday, April 9. She's also on the following Monday's "Two Broke Girls," where she plays "Claire," or as CBS notes:
As Max and Caroline get to know her, it quickly becomes clear that Claire has trouble making decisions.
(Just to re-iterate, as to avoid confusion, Claire/Linds has "trouble making decisions," not "trouble-making decisions...")
Lindsay Lohan appears on "Ellen" this Monday, and -- don't worry -- we have clips. But she does indeed have a lot to say -- about dating, post-rehab, Wilmer Valderrama and Oprah.
Of the Queen, she calls her a "guiding force," which is what I guess Linds and I have in common: O is my guiding force, too.
Clips below, but here's a quick quote from her life in re-hab -- the sixth or seventh such stint ended last summer and, as you may know, she's been in a Sunday night "docuseries" on OWN charting her post-rehab life in New York, and the series has not exactly been burning up the Nielsens. This visit to "Ellen" may be some sort of stratagem, one assumes, to light a fire.
"When I went to Cliffside, I really wanted a moment for myself and I learned a lot of different tools and things that I didn’t in the past. In the past, a lot of it, people don’t know this, but I was sent to rehab to avoid you know, them trying to put me in jail. So it wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted or was ready for. It was something that it was kind of just going with the motions. And this was the first time where I went to Shawn Holley, my lawyer, and said look, I need some time. I need to figure something out. And it was through kind of, you know, meditation and learning different things that . . . and just growing up as well and being like I’m tired and I want to be working and all these other girls are doing this and I’ve been doing this my whole life …and maybe, you know, that’s what makes me happy. So I’m just going to do what I have to do to get there again."
"Lindsay" -- which yours truly called "utterly absorbing," an opinion clearly in the minority and possibly an overstatement when viewed in the cold light of dawn -- was seen by only 693,000 viewers. That seems like a small number in TV terms because it is.
OWN did see the sliver lining, of course: "This marks OWN’s highest rating in the Sunday 10 p.m. hour in 27 weeks among women 25-54."
And in fairness to, ummm, myself, I did indeed think "Lindsay" was absorbing if only because it tried to humanize her, which doesn't exactly happen every time you see her on screen. This coulda been a disaster. It was not. Have at me if you disagree... Comment below!
Without further comment, Lindsay Lohan's water war gambit with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday night, in which good water was wasted in the service of a comic bit, notable for two things: 1.) One of the soakees is Lohan; 2.) She becomes the first woman to get soaked in this long-running Fallon game. Also: The real interview follows, in two clips (the second one is amusing).
(App readers, watch the videos here: http://bit.ly/1fLmDSU. Unfortunately, this content is unavailable on mobile phones.)
Sure, skepticism is warranted. Sure, derision, too. Sure, you've been down this road before, manipulated by some network to watch because it's all part of the TV game ... or the sordid part of the game, anyway.
But here's a contrarian thought: What if Lindsay Lohan's OWN special isn't half-bad? What if...?
Sight unseen -- and none of us have seen anything except for that commercial that was released Tuesday -- I've come up with a competing theory. Here's the column in Friday's paper:
"Lindsay," OWN, Sunday, 10 p.m.
What it's about: This eight-part "docuseries" by filmmaker Amy Rice -- a staffwriter for HBO's "The Newsroom" and director of 2009's well-regarded fly-on-the-wall doc, "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama" -- followed Lindsay Lohan around New York after her release from rehab last summer. In the opener, she moves back to New York "to work on her sobriety and to rebuild her career." Reports say the shooting of this was tumultuous. OWN provided no review copy.
My say: "I know" -- says the subject of this series which OWN declined to preview for the press except in a two-minute sizzle reel -- "that this is my last shot at doing what I love to do."
And where have we heard the subject of this series say that before? Just before her last "SNL" appearance to Matt Lauer? Or was it on "GMA," before the "Liz and Dick" debacle? Last shots, in fact, are what Lohan specializes in because an enabling media industry -- motivated by the primal twin urges of greed and self-interest -- continue to serve them up to her.
As a result, us gawkers and other assorted rubberneckers tend to approach any Lohan project these days with a (healthy) brace of skepticism.
But there's reason to approach this particular project another way -- with a measure of cautious hope. That reason is Amy Rice, a thoughtful and obviously intelligent filmmaker who probably has no interest in putting a torpedo in the side of her career just as it's getting underway.
Sure, there is such a thing as take-the-money-and-run. There's also something called professional pride. My hope -- maybe yours, and if Lohan has any measure of self-respect, her's too -- is that pride trumps personal profit here.
Believe it or not, there is something compelling to be done on Lohan: A uniquely American story (or tragedy)? A cautionary tale? A portrait of addiction, or narcissism, or the toll Hollywood takes on the fragile, or the toll the paps take on celebrity? Take your pick, and there is much to pick from.
Rice got unlimited access. We'll all find out together whether she used this access wisely.
Lindsay Lohan: "There's nothing left in having a drink for me . . ."
Oprah Winfrey: "You need to cut the [expletive] . . ."
And there you have the bookends -- telling ones -- of a two-minute sizzle reel OWN released late Tuesday of its new eight-part series, "Lindsay," which premieres Sunday night at 10. (OWN has declined to offer review copies for reasons unknown.)
The tease features an intermittently calm Lohan with a frazzled Lohan: "People have this image of me that it is chaos. I don't want all of the negative [expletive] that's going on, and the stress that might show through on camera . . ."
Then, of course, there's chaos: Lohan tells off dad Michael ("You weren't good for me for a long time in my life") and she gets locked out of her Manhattan apartment. (Reasons also unclear.)
Cut to the director of the series, Amy Rice, who looks balefully into the camera. "So we were supposed to start shooting at 12:30, and Lindsay was locked out of her apartment . . ."
The reel ends with an assistant to Winfrey saying Lohan wants to back out of the taping. Then, it's Oprah's turn to stare balefully into the camera: "This is exactly what everybody said was gonna happen . . ."
And so it goes. Are these 120 seconds representative of an eight-hour docuseries, filmed after Lohan was released from rehab last summer? We'll all have to find out together, which is exactly what OWN and Oprah have planned.
Bottom line: If you can judge a series by the promo - and of course you can't - this one does look intriguing. Warning: Oprah drops an expletive at the end of the preview that may be offensive to some viewers.
[Meanwhile, for those readers just cynical enough to think this whole thing is a play, or ploy, to get Lindsay more employment, congratuations! You may be right. This just in from CBS: "Actress Lindsay Lohan is set to guest star on 2 BROKE GIRLS, Monday, April 14 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. She will play Claire Guinness, a soon-to-be-bride who asks Max and Caroline to make her wedding cake. As Max and Caroline get to know her, it quickly becomes clear that Claire has trouble making decisions. "]
(App readers, watch here: http://bit.ly/1gR05wD. Unfortunately, this content is unavailable on mobile phones.)