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Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86, and possibly mentioned or not among the many tributes today will be this: She had a huge influence on Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey has spoken long and often of Angelou, who was on OWN last year at this time.
And Winfrey may even be the first to suggest even this: No Angelou, no Oprah, or at least not the one millions have come to know.
These clips, including Angelou's appearance on "Super Soul Sunday," explore that influence. Meanwhile, here's Winfrey's statement, posted on Facebook:
I've been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my 20’s. She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give’ is one of my best lessons from her. She won three Grammys, spoke six languages and was the second poet in history to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration. But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she lived her life. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.
"...I can take a deep breath and enjoy the view.."
And there you have it, or them: Last words of a singular career that ended a little while ago. Write them down or remember them, if only to say "'last words, my eye...'" when Barbara Walters returns to the air after a brief "retirement sabbatical..."
Nevertheless, this morning's "The View" was her last official on-air appearance, not counting tonight's career retrospective.
She went off in style: Saluting 25 "incredible" women of the TV news industry who, in fact, are incredible - a who's who of female newscasters, each of whom has insisted she owes her career, or at least some of it, to the trailblazer they all surrounded on "The View" set. Robin Roberts, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Paula Zahn, Jane Pauley, and on and on and on...
They were introduced by Oprah Winfrey who had this to say: "I had to be here to celebrate you because what you have meant to me. You have literally meant the world to me. There are so many things to say but not enough time to say them all. I want to thank you for being a pioneer and everything that that word means - being the first in the door, to knock down that door, to break the barrier, to pave the road we all walk on. I thank you for that..."
Walters looked surprised. Maybe she even was. But she was also undeniably pleased.
It was a nice hour, and in some ways a characteristic hour, with friends mixing pleasure with business - the usual promotional fly-throughs, courtesy of Hillary Clinton, selling a book, and maybe a candidacy ("I am running," she joked. "Around the park.") And Michael Douglas, another longtime Walters friend and starring in a forthcoming movie with Diane Keaton, who showed a picture of his father, Kirk, now 97.
But that's OK. Television is about I-rub-your-back-you-rub-mine, and Barbara Walters has done plenty of back-rubbing over the decades - consecrating careers, or pushing them into places of distinction, all the while pushing hers into an aerie essentially occupied by one person: Herself.
There were no tears and no tears were expected. Steely, tough and focused, Barbara Walters didn't get to be the most influential woman in the history of network news - and one of the three or four titans of this business - by succumbing to emotion. Walter Cronkite didn't tear up on his last night. Barbara did not on her last day.
Her final words were practiced - she said the exact same speech at the party in her honor the other night at The Four Seasons... But you also knew they were from the heart: "True, I was the first female co-host of an evening new show, but it's also true I was a flop" - she said the word as if the 40-year-old memory still stings.
"I was drowning, gasping for air, and then someone threw me that life preserver, called prime-time specials..."
Those specials - four a year, and for which she was paid $500,00, one-half of her famed $1 million salary in 1976 - created one of the unique bifurcations in TV history: A newswoman who interviewed real newsmakers and also real stars...
But those specials did indeed save her.
Meanwhile, she got advice from Clinton this morning: "Take some time off...take a real vacation."
Will Walters, who turns 85 this September, take this counsel? What do you think? Consider: She was just getting started at age 65, a couple of years before she even started "The View."
Who knows. She may just be getting started again.
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!
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.)
OWN's "Lindsay" is coming -- and sooner than you think: March 9, Sunday, 10 p.m. But it is beginning to look as though OWN plans on keeping the media in a fenced off area, so to speak, on this one: No "preview" screeners, no clips and maybe even no interviews (with Amy Rice, the director here; Linds doesn't "do" interviews.... except with Oprah who paid hard cash for this interview/docuseries package.)...Read more »