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Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah's Politics Club

Oprah is throwing a $2,300-a-head fund-raiser for Barack Obama at her ranch in Montecito, California, and it's sold out. Writer Robert Olen Butler's wife, Elizabeth Dewberry, left him for Ted Turner, perhaps because Turner resembles the grandfather who once molested her. The Good Morning America intern who posed nude (for Playboy) is named Lace Rose Allenius, and she once dated Matt Dillon. Mayor Bloomberg, Donald Trump, Billy Crystal, and Joe Torre won a charity golf tourney by nine strokes. Uma Thurman is dating Elle Macpherson's ex, Swiss banker Arky Busson. Lindsay Lohan's bodyguard has received half-million-dollar offers to sell her out, but he won't do it. Members of Usher's camp maintain that fiancée Tameka Foster made up her "baby scare" so Usher would talk to her. Cindy Sheehan sang along to Cypress Hills' "Fuck the Pigs" while drinking beer at a Randalls Island concert.

Allah's Love We Deliver

Some Palestinians claim that Yasser Arafat died of AIDS. Justin Timberlake had Lance Bass and his boyfriend run interference at the opening of his Southern Hospitality so that he could sneak out without running into Jessica Biel. Donald Trump and other captains of industry are fighting to keep the heliport in Hudson River Park open. Firefighters invited to the screening of Adam Sandler's I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry took issue with Sandler's financial support of Rudy Giuliani. Jonathan Ames is set to box with another writer. Moby got a surprisingly funny letter from Karl Rove. A.M. Homes is developing a show about the Hamptons for HBO.

Diddy Dissed

Diddy's longtime girlfriend Kim Porter has finally moved out (and on). Henry Kissinger is bummed he isn't portrayed in Frost/Nixon. Chris Tucker impersonates Bill Clinton, and the former president can't get enough. At Bergdorf Goodman last week, Beyoncé was barefoot and Katherine Heigl was hot. André Balasz has taken over the Chelsea Hotel and is setting his sights on the Pacific. White House in Hampton Bays paid Diddy $200,000 to host his Independence Day Party there. Ashlee Simpson might be at the Blackbook party in the Hamptons tomorrow. Gwyneth Paltrow, who's on crutches, blames running into furniture for her injury; Helen Hunt, also on crutches, won't say why.

Barron Hilton Was Not Mugged

Security guards from Stereo thwarted a mugging of Paris Hilton's brother, Barron Hilton. (And Barbara Walters will get Paris's first post-prison interview.) Biographies of Dina Lohan state that she was a Rockette and Broadway actress, but she is neither. Porn star Savanna Samson backs Giuliani for president. Anna Quindlen is auctioning off naming rights to a character in her upcoming novel. Former Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad often does not show up to parties she's expected at. Bruce Willis was angry that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore were dating until Will Smith gave him a talking-to. Bebe Neuwirth went to a chiropractor.

Walking the CFDA Red Carpet With Jack, Lazaro, and Oprah

The big winner at the CFDA awards last night was … well, actually, it was two winners: The venerable Oscar de la Renta shared the Best Picture–ish womenswear award with Proenza Schouler whippersnappers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. Ralph Lauren won for menswear, Derek Lam for accessories, and Lauren was awarded the first-ever Fashion Legend Award. But the real question remains: What did they all wear? Our fashion folks can answer that for you, no problem. Check out our CFDA slideshow to see what Ralph, Derek, Jack, Lazaro, Oscar, Anna, Oprah, Tinsley, and many, many others wore on last night's red carpet. The 2007 CFDA Fashion Awards [Slideshow]

The Soho Grand Is a Wonderland

Rumors of the demise of the John Mayer–Jessica Simpson relationship may be greatly exaggerated; the two spent Sunday night together at the Soho Grand. (Mayer is also still doing the stand-up comedy thing). Today show correspondent Jill Rappaport owns eighteen acres in the Hamptons. Johnny Damon hung out till 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, but he still hit a two-run double later in the day. Ivanka Trump and Zach Braff exchanged numbers. (Uh-oh. Does Jared Kushner know about this?) Warren Buffett, David Remnick, John Kerry, Ted Turner, and Jann Wenner, among others (ahem), were all rejected from Harvard. After asking for $5.5 million, Stone Phillips sold his penthouse on West 72nd Street for $4.35 million. Times managing editor Jill Abramson is suing the truck driver who ran over her foot.

Party Reporting on a Sunday Night, or How We Fell for Oprah

We saw Oprah Winfrey in person for the second time in our life last night at the gala for Elie Wiesel's Foundation for Humanity at the Waldorf- Astoria and determined though we were to be our usual bitter, jaded selves, we couldn't help falling in love with her all over again. It wasn't just the way she held her hands to her face and closed her eyes and unabashedly sang along with the national anthem. It wasn't just how she gripped Wiesel's arm tightly as photographers descended upon them. It wasn't just her admission that she'd cribbed moves from Barbara Walters to land her first job in television, particularly Walters's technique of asking a question, then looking up, then down, and waiting for the answer. And it wasn't even how she gave an impassioned speech about how we must live to serve and save other people while still admitting she was pretty happy for the things she's got. ("I like the shoes," she said. "And I really like the plane.") No, it was the moment she looked out at the crowd — people who'd arrived at 6 p.m. but had to wait until 11 p.m. before she spoke — and said, "I know what it means to get dressed and come out on a Sunday night. I get it. You're busy people. You've got work tomorrow. And it's The Sopranos. We'd all rather be sitting at home in our PJs." Amen. —Jada Yuan

Saddam Lives?

An agent claims to have forensic evidence and government documents that allege Saddam Hussein is still alive and well. Former CBS News reporter turned professional CBS basher Bernard Goldberg takes shots at Les Moonves and Katie Couric in his newest book. The relationship between 77-year-old Barbara Walters and 80-year-old Robert N. Butler is heating up. Arianna Huffington broke her cheekbone and got stitches after fainting in her office from exhaustion. Taxi tycoon Andrew Murstein bought a suite at Madison Square Garden for $500,000. The man accused of shaking down Oprah Winfrey claims he was set up by her lawyer, according to Radar. Exes Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr continue to dislike each another.

Also, There Were Parties After the Oscars

Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, and Vince Vaughn cruised the Vanity Fair Oscar party at Morton's solo. (Everyone who is anyone was there.) Except Brad Pitt, who was a no-show at the Oscars despite having starred in Babel and been a producer on The Departed. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard are leaving the West Village for Brooklyn because of the paparazzi. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams are fighting. Oprah says that Barack Obama didn't start the Clinton-Geffen feud. Zero-star Kobe Club owner Jeffrey Chodorow has banned Frank Bruni from all 29 of his restaurants. At $70,000, a private soccer lesson with David Beckham was the lowest winning bid at Elton John's Oscar-night AIDS benefit. Natalie Portman left an Oscars party with Gael García Bernal.

Breaking: Oprah Apparently Has African Heritage!

It's a red-letter week for Oprah Winfrey. Not only did we learn that her Book Club is returning, tonight brings the PBS special Oprah's Roots, the blazing coda to the popular African American Lives series, in which Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. examines prominent black people's background through both historical records and DNA testing and has determined that, in fact, no one he's profiled is descended from an Indian chief. A sneak peak at the romp through Oprah's DNA reveals that the talk-show host, who explains that she has a passion for "education and land," has links to both an educational fund-raiser and a former slave who when freed acquired 80 acres. Unconfirmed: Oprah may also have had a self-righteous great-aunt, a nosy great-grandmother, and a distant cousin who gave tin lizzies to an entire town. Oprah's Roots [PBS] 'Oprah's Roots' Is Part Biography, Part Genealogy [Chicago Tribune]

Oprah's Book Club Returns; Americans — Or At Least Publishers — Rejoice!

Publishers across the city are presumably giddy as schoolgirls today over Friday's announcement that Oprah's Book Club — on hiatus for a year in wake of the James Frey debacle — is returning to the airwaves with an as-yet-unknown pick to be announced at the end of this week. Elie Wiesel's Night, the last Oprah pick — and not exactly an unknown work — sold more than 1.5 million copies after being tapped. So who will hit the jackpot now? The industry newsletter Publishers Lunch reads the Amazon tea leaves and determines that it's likely a HarperCollins trade paperback listed at $14.95. The Rupert Murdoch–owned Harper, of course, was most recently in the news for If I Did It, O.J.'s stillborn work of wit and wisdom. So it's pretty good time for the publisher to be getting a dose of Oprah-endorsed goodwill. And if it's true, well, we can't help thinking that a certain Australian billionaire owes the Chicago talk queen a drink the size of Lake Michigan. Oprah's Book Club Returns With New Title [AP via Yahoo]

Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine

A choir sang "This Little Light of Mine" at Eliot Spitzer's inauguration; the Albany Times Union editor was one of the singers. The owner of Patroon, who used to run '21,' brought his current staff to his old restaurant. Courtney Love made 53 New Year's resolutions. Casa Casuarina in South Beach lost power on New Year's Eve, and Anna Anisimova and Jonathan Cheban couldn't take the heat. Brad Pitt wants to produce a Borat project. Spirit Airlines lost James Gandolfini's luggage. A producer was going to make an Elmore Leonard book into a movie but now isn't. Oprah is happy that Madonna adopted that Malawian kid. Semi-disgraced Miss USA Tara Conner might pose for Playboy. Someone hit on David Schwimmer at Pastis. The Soup Nazi actor took Kramer's Reality Tour. Former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe has a new memoir out, in which he tells stories about raising money. George Michael did a private New Year's Eve concert in Russia for $3 million. Wilmer Valderrama is set to launch a menswear line. Meatpacking club Double Seven is moving down the block. Will Ferrell won't do Elf 2. Kevin Connolly pulled a blonde out of the way of an ambulance in Miami.

Spicoli Isn't a Big Bush Fan

Sean Penn wants Bush and Cheney to be impeached, he said while accepting an award at a Creative Coalition dinner. Josh Hartnett may have been texting could-be girlfriend Scarlett Johansson from a movie screening. Sharon Elghanayan, girlfriend of Jon Corzine, wants to marry the New Jersey governor, but he's not biting. Fabiola Beracasa gave her boyfriend and her fellow socialites a little strip show at a Lower East Side club on Saturday. Reese Witherspoon and her kids moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where they attend public school. (The kids, not Reese.) Diane Kruger and boyfriend Joshua Jackson (yes, Pacey from Dawson's Creek) hung out in Dubai. Fat Joe spent $20K over three nights on strippers and booze at Sin City near Yankee Stadium. Canadian heiress Lisa Belberg says she and Harold Ford Jr. are "great friends" not "boyfriend and girlfriend." Mayor Bloomberg, Senators Clinton and Schumer, Eliot Spitzer, and others schmooze the media tonight at the New York Press Club's holiday party. Oprah, Jude Law, Damon Dash, and others are turning their humanitarian efforts to South Africa. Former Miami club king and Madonna pal Chris Paciello is out of jail after eight years and back on the town. Barnard alum Joan Rivers instructed fellow graduates to "go through your husband's wallet and give everything in it" to the school. Nas claims he was drunk on Hennessy during many of his early recording sessions. Lewis Black admired a painting of a naked woman. Mischa Barton drank a beer in Hoboken.

Alice Walker Confesses Tracy Chapman Affair to Someone Other Than Oprah

Alice Walker
Fresh off the recent Riverside Church reading of Oprah-ordained author Alice Walker, the Guardian's Sarah Wajid buttonholes the author in Soho and gets her to dish on leaving Random House and comparing herself to a fig tree. But the interview also includes this official bomb:
I tell her people are still fascinated by her love affair with the singer Tracy Chapman in the mid-1990s. Moments earlier she had said firmly but politely that she didn't want to answer any questions about her family life … So I was surprised to see her face light up at the mention of Chapman. "Yeah I loved it too. Absolutely." So why did they decide against using their relationship to make a big social impact like other celebrity lesbian couples, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, have in the past? The idea seems to amuse her. "I would never do that. My life is not to be somebody else's impact — you know what I mean?"
Wait … Alice Walker is going on the record about having an affair with Tracy Chapman in THE GUARDIAN? Be sure to catch next week's Oprah to see if you can register the note of quiet betrayal; check out YouTube for inevitable Rosie clip. No Retreat [The Guardian]