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Oprah Winfrey's Lindsay Lohan interview: Has O lost her touch?

Oprah Winfrey's interview with actress Lindsay Lohan aired

Oprah Winfrey's interview with actress Lindsay Lohan aired on OWN's "Oprah's Next Chapter" on Aug. 18, 2013. Credit: Harpo Studios Inc.

I got back from a sojourn in the woods in time for the Oprah Winfrey/Lindsay Lohan interview, and the full realization -- other than the fact that this is no way to end a vacation -- that the addiction is ours.

Specifically, the addiction to interviews like this one -- that add nothing, say nothing, contribute nothing other than to our incurable need to rubberneck, gawk, and assure ourselves that no matter how sorry things may get on our end, there's always the expectation that this celebrity train wreck will roll around to remind us how much sorrier things could get.

That nothing really new or revealing came out of this interview should by now be evident to all -- it was the same assured exit interview she's given many times before, the same answers that sound so plausible, sincere and... practiced. (My colleague, Frank Lovece, wrote up the interview for the paper; go here for more.)

Interestingly, the best moments -- "best" being a word we Lindsay addicts use when discussing something we haven't heard in great detail before -- was in the all too brief discussion about the bedlam she once called home in Merrick: The chaos, boozing, insanity and, finally, surprisingly, what even seemed like an expression of genuine love for the two who caused all that trouble in the first place.

"A lot of stuff happened in my family, I grew up in a chaotic home," then admitted that she'd seen a "therapist for years and years."

"Do you think you're addicted to chaos," asked O, who knew the answer even before she asked.

"What's going to be different this time?"

"Not taking Adderall!"

(What? In the span of five seconds, a damnation by association, of talk therapy and America's overindulgent of a drug used to focus attention but which in Lohan's case, shatters it.)

What was missing last night? Plenty, besides follow-ups – the "chaos at home" as an obvious example.

But especially what was missing was Oprah herself. She was present but unaccounted for.

She was unengaged, uninvolved, uninterested.

She was the "UnOprah."

At times, she was also the Sagacious Oprah, who sat impassively, nodding as if she was about to impart all the wisdom of the ages, appearing to think the deep thoughts, but not offering much evidence of deep thoughts.

Aha! She finally came alive during a brief aha moment. So you are a spiritual person, Lindsay!

Spirituality -- of a broad, hazy, secular form that (mostly) eschews specific reference or endorsement of religions but which does endorse God -- is an Oprah specialty and Oprah strength. Get her up there on the pulpit and good luck getting her off.

But after Linds gave sort of a fuzzy, nonspecific response to a deep belief in the divine -- which sounded especially bogus and New Agey as it came out -- Oprah quickly got off the subject. "There's nothing to be gained here," you could almost see her thinking. "Move along before this gets really embarrassing ..."

That's too bad because if Oprah had really pressed her, something unexpected might have come out -- or something that she didn't say during her exit interview at that Malibu beachfront mansion/"rehab facility." Maybe. But probably not.

Why wasn't Oprah really engaged? I have a theory: Because she was profoundly bored. There is nothing this young woman was saying that she hadn't heard a thousand times before from similarly afflicted post-rehab coddled celebs, who have studied the playbook, know all the answers, and offer them with the assurance of lines in a movie where we all already know the ending.

Oprah could care less. Besides, she knew this was all part of a business proposition, which makes it all a little more sordid than it already is. It's part of a lucrative deal for Lohan who was getting PAID to talk to her, as part of multipart reality series that will air sometime next year. If this is what it takes to make OWN solvent, then so be it.

What was also missing last night? Context, for one. Further explanation about this deal specifically. This wasn't all happening in some vacuum. Oprah needed to explain to viewers -- and of course would never -- that a deal like this is part of Lohan's problem, much as a tumor is a problem for someone with cancer: That need for attention, the hot spotlight, all of which ultimately devolves into that chaos she also covets.

That last thing Lohan needs now -- this was taped July 30, or about five minutes after she got out -- is another camera in her face, or camera crews who will chart her post rehab life for that reality series, who will in turn be hounded by camera crews from TMZ and E!

She told Oprah she was going to Europe -- to meditate, do yoga. Oh, no! Oprah protested. Don't go there! Europe is so big, so sexy. There are so many temptations! Stay in New York! As if there are no temptations in New York.

The advice was absurd -- how does Oprah know what Lohan was going to do in Europe -- she didn't bother to ask. Or was she concerned that the yoga sojourn would make for really bad reality TV? Much better to have New York as a set.

There was a final self-congratulatory line posted on-screen at the end, which said Lohan had canceled her trip, and would remain stateside. Mission accomplished. The reality series remains on track, in New York, which is more TV friendly than a monastery in the Alps (or, knowing Lohan, a monastery on the French Riviera).

Maybe Linds will roll into Kris Kardashian during her time in New York -- or better yet, Baby K. Enough. My addiction has been satiated. Awaiting the series. My addiction -- our addiction -- continues.  

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