When Oprah Calls…

Will you be ready?

 

I can imagine the conversation, can’t you?

“Hello?”

“Good morning, is (insert your name) at home?” Oprah asks.

“This is she (or he).”

“How are you? This is Oprah calling,” she says.

“Riiiiiight? Who is this?”

“This is Oprah, Oprah Winfrey,” she says.

“Uh, huh. Listen, I’m registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. Could you please take my name off of your list?”

*Click*

Of course it’s highly unlikely Oprah does her own calling, so the entire premise of this blog post is tragically flawed. It’s assumed that someone on Oprah’s staff makes the call and then all of the follow-up calls as well. Not that I would know first hand.

This was one of my 3 a.m. revelations.

I’ve been working on promoting my novel and in doing so, trying out different things, like advertising, blog interviews, and radio. Some of these I entered into too lightly. I’m no celebrity and should not under any circumstances fly by the seat of pants as much as I do.

Have you ever judged a guest on a talk show or on news broadcast? Of course you have. We all have. Most of the people we watch doing such interviews are actors or famous people. They have handlers, stylists, agents, publicists, etc. They could do these interviews in their sleep and even they become intimidated by Oprah.

For celebrities, the greatest challenge during interviews and appearances is getting their ‘talking points’ across, promoting whatever they are trying to promote, and attempting to appear genuine so that people like you and me can relate to them.

For people like us, writers, novice musicians, business owners, parents, everyday folks, being genuine is the easy part, we’re too real in fact. Our challenge is trying to appear expert in our field, or to at least appear halfway intelligent.

The 20th Anniversary Collection of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

I remember when Oprah’s show was just starting out. I was just starting college. I remember watching the intro and I swear in the original show, Oprah was seen walking on the city streets of Chicago. She was so likable, so real, so different from anyone else on television.

More than anything, just like you, I always wished for an opportunity to sit on the couch across from Oprah. You know it’s true. It didn’t matter what genius landed you a spot on the show: #1 Widget Salesperson, Mother of the Year, it was a fantasy after all.

Did you rehearse your interview in the bathroom mirror with a toothbrush as a microphone?

Sure you did.

In 1988 I watched and cheered, along with America, when Oprah strutted out on stage in her Calvin Klein jeans, wheeling the ‘wagon’ http://www.oprah.com/own-tv-guide-magazines-top-25-best-oprah-show-moments/Moment-3-Oprahs-Wagon-of-Fat-Video and I kept watching and being inspired by show after show.

In 1996 when Oprah announced her Book Club, making authors famous overnight, I thought, this is it. This is how I will come to be on the show.

In 1997, seven years out of college, I landed a job working in the male-dominated, hardware industry, and becoming a writer was still just a dream. I always wanted to go to Chicago and my major account headquarters was located in the windy city. Once, on my way to a meeting, I was tempted to skip it and go instead to wait in line as an audience member on the Oprah show. I still regret choosing the meeting over the show. Of course I would have been fired.

In 2002, I left my career to become a stay-at-home-mom. I felt empowered to make this choice, for the good of my family. Four years later, in 2006, still believing I could do anything I set my mind to, my writing journey began. It was slow at first, but then I wrote with a vengeance. In 2011, I was still fine tuning my novel when Oprah announced her legacy, the show, was coming to an end.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-Takes-the-Stage-for-the-Last-Time-Video

My heart sank. No more Book Club. Then, Oprah announced her new network and all hope was restored.

I finished and published my novel and there was still hope that maybe somehow I might get my novel looked at by the staffers who handle Oprah’s book reviews. Of course, one novel does not a writing career make. One novel is but a leaf in the great ‘Amazon’ rain forest. But it is also the start of something potentially great.

Maybe, I would even send a copy of this blog post via e-mail with a link to my book to Oprah’s staffers. Maybe I would properly explain the heart of the story. That on the surface it is a story about a young, reluctant psychic, named Janice Morrison, but underneath it is a tale about overcoming obstacles, about having faith in God, yourself and those you love.

The only problem is, if Oprah ever really called, would I be ready? Would I believe it?

Maybe I would just say, “thank you, for all the years of inspiration!”

Thanks for reading!

 

Image of Oprah came from: http://dream-it-plan-it-do-it.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Oprah-Winfrey.jpg

Idol ‘It’ Factor

Top-9-Portraits

 

This season’s Idol contestants came to the auditions prepared to win. Younger and more talented every year, they came with guitars, with stage presence, and with training. So it makes me wonder, where will the show go from here?

At this stage in the game, the final nine are all winners. They will all go on to certain fame, whether they become ‘The’ American Idol or not.

It is not unlike, for us writers, being on the New York Times best sellers list or in the Amazon.com top 100. Do you really need to be #1 or are you happy being a best seller? Being number one would be nice, but again, where do you go from there?

The judges are getting tougher in their commentary. They have to, because the name of the game is who will become #1? So tonight, we will discover which contestants America decided sink to the bottom three. All performed well, as they should at this stage, so we shall see.

The judges focused on tone, bravado and pitch, tell the contestants to bring something new to the performance, a standout factor. It reminds me of what agents are always saying they want to see in a manuscript. What they want is that next great thing, but they cannot tell you exactly what that is. If you are a musician, you could learn from watching American Idol. You could soak up the expert advice doled out by the judges. You could learn from the mistakes and successes of the contestants. You could learn what makes a star a star, or could you?

The infamous ‘it’ factor is impossible to describe but most agree they recognize it when they see it. I think it is like trying to catch a shooting star. Why do we feel the need to put a name on it, to package it and to sell it?

Advertisers spend their days mulling over data, trying to pinpoint what ‘it’ is. When all the while most of us are uninterested in how it is, just that it is. We listeners, viewers and readers, know when we hear a song or watch a program or pick up a book, that we are either moved by the content or not. Some would say we’re drawn to that conclusion.

Q. Does desire to believe leave you open to be deceived?

A. Maybe our desire is to be deceived.

If so moved, then we want to connect to it or to its message in some way. Ah, but here is the decisive factor: we also want to be entertained. See we are a tricky bunch. How we connect to the message is an individual thing, yet it is also a universal thing, because despite our unique experiences, we all share our common humanity.

There is enough negativity in the world, is there not? I would rather focus on the top three or four entertainers from last night’s show, those contestants who moved me and gave the most entertaining performances of the night by my standards: Dexter, Malaya, Jessica and Caleb.

On Dexter’s performance, I disagree with the judge’s comments that he sang Boondocks just like Little Big Town. Maybe a mixed genre music fan like myself, does not hear that song all of the time, so for me, it was Dexter’s. I doubt the country music fans would mind even if it did sound like a cover tune. And yes, we are drawn in by his story, as American as apple pie. http://www.americanidol.com/videos/featured-videos/top-9-dexter-roberts-boondocks

Great tune anyway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=skAOb_EUE_M

Malaya’s range, power and voice control are amazing for such a young girl. So if she wins the competition, in a year from now, will all that makes her special fade away? What will Hollywood do to her individuality once her star is in the net?   http://www.americanidol.com/videos/featured-videos/top-9-malaya-watson-the-long-and-winding-road

Jessica continues to prove herself the consummate performer. She seems to have a maturity and edgy life experience the others lack, which shines through her performances.   http://www.americanidol.com/videos/featured-videos/top-9-jessica-meuse-rhiannon

When the lights are down Caleb transforms into a mature, hypnotic, hard rocker with a voice to match. It is as if he is channeling the lyrics. http://www.americanidol.com/videos/featured-videos/top-9-caleb-johnson-dazed-and-confused

Entertainment factor? That next great thing? It factor? Well, I’m still thinking about those performances. So yes!

Park this Rig on American Idol

The Top Ten Motor On…

I’ve decided American Idol is my current guilty pleasure. It presents such a departure from the rest of my life. So about last night…well darling, if you didn’t tune in, allow me to summarize:

Winning, while typically the result of exceptional skill sometimes comes by way of default; meaning that your opponent simply did not bring his or her ‘A’ game.

What the heck happened? Several of the show’s best contestants simply fell apart at the seams last night. Here’s how it all went down. I’ve added a star system, like in Orion’s belt, from zero to three stars, three being the best.

1. First up was M.K. with excellent pink hair and a strong start, singing my most favorite “Pink” song. Then her performance went sideways. I hope because of this one gaff, folks don’t send her packing. She has a great sound, although, her demeanor during the remainder of the program, will likely land her in the bottom three.

2. Dexter, sorry country dude, I was not digging this song choice. Even when Florida Georgia Line sings “Cruise”, the song is little more than a repetitive, monotone verse. Of course, this is true of most top ten hits, so that is the challenge. Dexter may be cruising to the bottom three.

3. Jena sang “Clarity” with authority and nailed it. With her unique sound, she pulled out a fabulous performance.** Two stars!

4. Alex, my favorite throwback, sang an up-tempo version of “Story of my Life”, which was a nice surprise since he tends to slow things down too often.**Two stars!

5. Malaya’s rendition of the Bruno Mars song, “When I was Your Man,” was strong, confident and emotional. ***Three stars! Loved it!

6. Caleb, I love you man, I just wasn’t Gaga over your song choice. Caleb can sing any song and make it his own so why did he choose that song? * One star

7. C.J. is a sweetheart but his tone was off throughout the entire tune. Looking in my crystal ball I see, C.J. in the bottom three.

8. Jessica mesmerized with her take on “Pumped up Kicks.” Although, I have to say, now that I’ve finally heard the lyrics to this deeply disturbing song, I won’t be humming it anymore. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fosterthepeople/pumpedupkicks.html Kids, just because any song with a good beat and a mumbled catch phrase can capture America’s interest, does not mean that it should. Good job Jess anyway.***Three stars!

9. Majesty, held her own, with an often too quiet “Wake Me Up”. She’s still one of my top picks but I am not sure this song kept the crowd awake.*One star.

10. Sam, America’s heartthrob, sang “We Are Young” with perfection. Is it possible to be too perfect? America will decide.**Two stars!

Of course, I’m just a fan, so what do I know????

I was very happy to see Jennifer Lopez take the gloves off on the judging. She and Keith have both mastered what I’ll call the ‘pump up, let down’, which is when you say something nice to someone right before you release the hammer. Bang!

Although I still don’t really hear Keith when he talks, it’s all just butterflies and unicorns. I’ve noticed he has a ‘tell’, when he begins his comments with “how are you tonight, baby?” you know it’s not going to be pretty, even if it still sounds nice. Sometimes, I could swear Keith is even saying the exact same thing as Harry, but Harry receives a barrage of boos from the crowd and Keith gets a new paper audience sign that says, Hug me Keith. It was great fun watching ‘the boys’ trade personas. But even while acting as Harry, when Keith spoke, it was all butterflies and unicorns again.

The show has an awesome new vibe, but what’s up with Ryan Seacrest? He’s not one of the show’s producers, but he acts like the rich kid who throws a party and then every other minute reminds everyone that he paid for the beer. At least Simon kept him in line.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCUQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D35tfXSINbCQ&ei=DS8rU9_gDqTe2QXVmYDwDQ&usg=AFQjCNFecvdf83lDtQnTHaVv5yagiMbgZQ

Sometimes I miss Simon, his arrogance was oddly attractive, but it was a distraction how everyone hated him so much. Simon laughed all the way to bank. I guess being hated pays off unless you are trying to become the next American Idol.

Good luck top ten!

Idol Fascination

Well, I am officially a captive home viewer of this season’s American Idol. In case you missed it, here is my take away from last night’s show.

First, let ask you something. Does anyone else out there think that if all of your favorite contestants are still on the show, that you could very well be a guest judge? I mean, why not? You and I may not be famous and/or talented but we know what we like, right?

I was impressed when MK Nobilette sang “To Make You Feel My Love,” the Harry Connick Jr. love song from Hope Floats. The fact that I woke up this morning singing it is a sure sign MK is among my top three, that or I was dreaming about Harry’s blue eyes again last night ;).

Anyway, thanks MK! On a side note, she could easily get away with sitting on a stool, aka Jewel, and stop awkwardly trying to move around the stage. I find it distracting and unnecessary.

Caleb Johnson still has the biggest, booming male voice I have heard in a long time. If he does not win Idol, there will surely be a top rock band or two ready to take him on. Caleb gave a stellar performance of Adele’s “Skyfall.” Even if you are not a James Bond fan, you have to love that tune. They really could have stuck with all Bond movie themes instead of “Cinema Themes,” it would have made for a better show.

Among the ladies, last nights big voice award was a tougher call. Jena Irene and Malaya Watson belted it out as divas do, although, the softer performances of Jessica Meuse and MK, as mentioned, were no less captivating.

If the group is not already recording a top performers CD, I am sure it is in the works.

True confessions time: I watch the show, but I do not vote, because I can never decide.  I am no closer to making a decision now about my favorite than I was a few weeks ago, but I am looking forward to tonight’s show. Good luck all, from this spellbound home audience member!

Where’s the American Idol for Writers?

http://media.americanidol.com/img/Season-13/Galleries/Posters-Gallery/01-ai-poster-1170×658-650×375.jpg

Are you hooked on American Idol? While I am normally a B & E watcher (beginning and end only), this season I am totally hooked. I’m not sure if it’s the pool of talented wannabe’s or the new judges or both.

It’s not that prior years haven’t produced amazing talent, but this year seems more diverse. There is also an influx of what I like to call the quirky element. I like that.

So far, among the ‘boys’ my favorite is Caleb Johnson with his edgy, rocker style. He reminds me of younger version of the famous ‘Meatloaf’ lead singer Marvin Lee Aday. On the quirky side is Alex Preston, who gave a flawless performance. Then there was the booming and mesmerizing voice of Malcolm Allen.  Who will win? It’s anyone game at this point. Every one of the top ten ‘boys’ brings something unique to the stage.

There is an equal amount of talent on the ‘girls’ side. My favorites run from Majesty Rose who just makes you want to dance, to Kristen O’Connor who dared sing an Adele song and nailed it, to Jena Irene who rocked the Rolling Stones anthem “Paint It Black”, in a spectacular new way. I would love to hear her sing a few Heart tunes because she could handle a Wilson sister’s song. Still I really like Jessica Meuse as an overall performer and my quirky awards go to MK Nobilette and Malaya Watson who are just so interesting to watch.

If you aren’t already tuning in you can catch the recap of them all at http://www.americanidol.com.

The other irresistible part of the this years show are the judges.

Jennifer Lopez is back as America’s darling. She’s so sweet, and a seemingly accessible star. After all, she’s just like you and me…only famous, wildly talented and gorgeous. We ignore all that because she could be the woman next door, really, couldn’t she?

Randy Jackson is back, but in a whole new capacity.

Then there’s Keith Urban. In a word, HOT! My only problem with Keith is that as soon as he starts speaking, I don’t hear a single word he says because I’m completely spellbound by his accent.

Thank goodness for Harry Connick Jr. who I think is one of the most qualified judges of all time with his background as not just a singer, but also a musician and an actor. He’s reminiscent of a ‘real movie star’ from back in the day when celebrities were role models and not tabloid fodder. Plus, I adored him in ‘Hope Floats.” *SIGH* To the studio audience I want to say stop “booing” him! Seriously? Leave the man alone! He speaks the truth! He can’t love everybody like Jen and Keith or there would be no reason to watch the show.

So, to my original point, where is the American Literary Version of Idol?

Where are the aspiring writers from all over the country, reciting sonnets or flash fiction?

We could do this people!

As for judges, how about:

  • Clive Cussler, Harlan Coben, or James Patterson for Thrillers
  • Maya Angelou for Poetry
  • Stephen King or Dean Koontz for Horror
  • Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts for Romance
  • Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark or Janet Evanovich for Mystery
  • George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling for Fantasy
  • Sorry folks, we’d probably have to omit the Erotica category if the show airs on prime time!

What a panel this could be! Of course, it would be hard for the contestants to compete across multiple categories and some would say, “I can’t write on demand!” Even though, it would be interesting to see who could.

The only remaining questions are:

Would it make good television?

And

Would anybody watch?

Why Black and White Films Trump Reality TV

So I’m flipping through the three hundred or so channels on my new overpriced and overrated ‘bundle’ and finding absolutely NOTHING that holds my attention.  After a hosing by the last ‘bundle’ company, you would think I would have learned my lesson.

In truth, I could pull the plug, plop the TV on the curbside and replace the old “square eye” with a reptile tank.  Not to mention, it’s fun to peer out the window to see who picks up the beast.  After looking it over curiously wondering if it still functions properly, glancing askance at my residence and then back to the machine, before…with a shoulder shrug, the curb cruiser whisks it away to its’ new happy home.

I love recycling.  Anything and everything I put on the curb with a “FREE” sign attached, miraculously disappears.

Anyway, it’s not my decision exclusively, so the TV stays put for now.

But wait!  After cursing and bemoaning the abundant reality TV shows, I unveiled a pale light flickering in the TV tunnel of doom.

First, I digress.  Seriously America, are we that nosy?  I don’t have time to care about what the Housewives in New York are doing.  And just for the record:  “Real Housewives” do not wear Prada, have expensive personal trainers on retainer and travel in limousines to fine restaurants to meet their friends and  discuss million dollar fundraisers, which benefit from the proceeds of their personal perfume lines.

And, we do not punch eachother…at least not physically.

True Housewives wear workout clothes all day, because it might motivate us to actually work out or at least convince others we just worked out and also serves as an explanation for the state of our hair.  We drive mini vans or SUVS full of screeching eight-year-old girls to public swimming pools for Birthday parties, have Papa John’s on speed dial and volunteer at the public schools.

Maybe I’ll tweet Ryan Seacrest  http://twitter.com/RyanSeacrest  to see if he wants to promote a show called “Keeping Up with my Stay-At-Home-Mom GF’s and me”.  It would be entertaining.  But would anyone care?

So, just as I’m getting ready to toss the remote across the room and cry out in defeat, I find this great black and white film from 1946, The Razors Edge, , starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney;  a brilliant story based on the novel by Somerset Maugham.

There’s something about the sharp contrast of Black and White that immediately gets your attention, it’s so stripped down, no bells, no whistles.  Nothing explodes and there is no nudity.  The actors needed skill back then and the story was compelling because, as I said, nothing explodes.  The actors held your attention and pulled you into the story.  Imagine!

It’s a tragic story full of loss, deception and heartache.  I immediately felt compassion for, Sophie Nelson, played by Anne Baxter, who for me was the tragic heroine of the film.  I kept hoping her story would end happily, after all she had been through.  Poor Sophie!

There are riveting close-ups, where you have only the actors expressions to convey the scene.  Amazing!  Think, Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, with her terrifying eyebrows arching as she bellowed,  “No more wire hangers!”

Yikes!  That still gives me the chills!

Okay, here’s a clip that isn’t black and white, it would be better if it were:  

Who knows, going back in time may just be the thing to still our over stimulated minds.

I’ll put a note in my tweet to Ryan Seacrest, that my “True Housewives” show, be shot exclusively in black and white, like an I Love Lucy episode.  For my close-up, I’ll need huge arched eyebrows and when I shout, “No more video games or reality TV, EVER!”  Audiences will shudder.