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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 10/16/2007

Love to Hate: Oprah's Shoe Fetish

By Liz Kelly

I have not been an Oprah Winfrey fan for years. I think she's self-absorbed, disconnected from reality and holds way too much sway over the minds and tastes of her target demographic. So, my disgust wasn't too difficult to summon when I saw this story about Jessica Seinfeld's $15,000 thank you note to Oprah.

Seinfeld -- wife of Jerry -- appeared on Oprah's show last week to promote her new cookbook "Deceptively Delicious." With the book now comfortably perched on the bestseller list, Mrs. Seinfeld sent Oprah a thank you gift of what is estimated to be $15,000 to $20,000 worth of shoes. Here's a look, along with a peek in Oprah's closet:

Yes, Jessica is undeniably guilty of Gilded Age behavior here; I expect a velvet-liveried monkey delivered the gift on a recommissioned Concord.

But by sharing a glimpse of Seinfeld's largesse with her audience -- along with a peek inside her capacious vault of footwear -- Oprah has uttered the 21st century equivalent of "let them eat cake." Her actions say: $20 thousand of shoes is so much gravy to me. Now let's talk about your hot flashes and your failing marriage while I chastise James Frey for being a phony. Oh, and when you get home be sure to buy this month's Oprah magazine so you, too, can read about Celine Dion's "Aha Moment" and memorize my "O List" of things I think are great.

Maybe I'm just jealous because no one gave me a trunk full of Christian Louboutin heels but I like to think that if someone did I would be busy donating them to Dress for Success or auctioning them off to benefit childhood nutrition programs (since childhood nutrition is the focus of Seinfeld's book, why not help kids who aren't the offspring of book jacket blurb pals Sarah Jessica Parker and Kelly Ripa).

I ask you:

By Liz Kelly  | October 16, 2007; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Oprah Winfrey  
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Comments

Liz,
You need to really get over it. Whether you like her personality or not, you cannot deny what she has done for charity. Surely more than you or I have. Do you give your gifts back when someone gives them to you? You don't have to like her, but hating is also very unattractive.

Posted by: Stacy | October 16, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I think it was tacky on Seinfeld's part since it does feel a little like a payoff for best-seller status but shame on Oprah for rubbing it in her audiences' faces.

I do believe there is a middle ground solution here though. Keep 1- 5 pairs of the yummy shoes and then auction or donate the rest.

Posted by: sjcpeach | October 16, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

What good're shoes for the ol' minge? And Gary hasn't even been to Paris yet!

Posted by: Minge & Gary | October 16, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

This might be the first time I disagree with Liz on anything, ever. Yes, she is a multi-gajillionaire. The vast majority of that money was made by operating a TV show that has been devoted, at best, to improving others' lives, and at worst, to entertaining people. On top of that, she gives millions and millions of that money to charitable causes. If you don't like her, don't watch her, but why does no one criticize Donald Trump's real estate collection or Bill Gates' anything the way people criticize Oprah? I think Liz summed it up when she says Oprah "holds too much sway" over the American public. If she had the same amount of money, but were not nearly so popular, people wouldn't care. But isn't that the choice of the people who watch her or are her fans? Why the sour grapes among those who don't or aren't?

My guess is, she will wear each pair of shoes once on her show and then either donate or auction them.

Posted by: NoShowMo | October 16, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Seinfield's wife is such the suck-up. Like Oprah needs more shoes. Like, if she did, she couldn't snap her fingers and make them magically appear. It just seems pointless to waste $20,000 on shoes for someone like Oprah.

And I say this not because Oprah doesn't deserve gifts. She certainly does. She does a lot for charity and for people in general. I like her.

But I think next time, give her something she CAN'T buy. You know she can buy shoes. I think it would mean more to someone like her that you send something creative, self-made. I don't know. Something homemade with a video-taped thank you or I don't know, something she can't buy anywhere.

As to what she should do with the shoes...

Who said she will keep them? She didn't. I think she was less showing off and more showing her appreciation for Mrs. Seinfield's gesture. She'll probably give a lot of them to her staff at Harpo, keep some, or auction them.

And Liz, Leave Oprah alone!

(Kidding...O's fair game. But I do disagree that she is anymore self-absorbed than your average billionnaire or even your average person.)

Posted by: Anonimis | October 16, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Liz on this. I have a love/hate Opralationship. I think she's an evil genius bent on world domination, and though I respect her firm command of the tastes of the masses, I really can't respect her adulation of the idiotic "The Secret" bs. So she gives millions to charity... ok. Then what's a few thousand more in shoes? Auction them off, give the proceeds to a good cause, and have done with it.
Also, I think that book, and the gift that went along with it are seriously creepy. What were you thinking, Jerry Seinfeld? Give that book money to charity, too!

Posted by: Violet | October 16, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I have never enjoyed Oprah for pretty much the reasons Liz points out. But then again, I'm not exactly Oprah's target audience.

And Liz, if I call my sister I think I can score you a nice collection of vintage Jellies.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 16, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

My guess is, she will wear each pair of shoes once on her show and then either donate or auction them.

So are we supposed to be impressed that the great & mighty O will deing to donate used footwear to charity?

I will never take anything away from Ms. Winfrey's accomplishments and I believe she has earned what she's got. I also believe she does plenty of good & makes many charitable donations. On the other hand, lay off Liz! She's absolutely right, there are plenty of people who don't feel the same about Oprah as they used to. For some reason I can't get over the picture of a giant Oprah pulling all our strings like so many marionettes.

Posted by: jes | October 16, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I HAVE ALWAYS FOUND OPRAH ANNOYING. I used to be chastised also since she does give back to the community, etc. BUT I AGREE SHE IS DISCONNECTED FROM REALITY. Jeez, this with the Sarah Silverman hate... like a weight off the old shoulders.

Posted by: not bluto | October 16, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

as I sit here at my computer, i'm also taking the occasional glance at my favorite pair of black high, high heeled boots--the first time i'm wearing them this season. yay for fall!
oh, oprah...right.
i think she should wear each pair on her show in a 'fashion show' with an outfit to match, then put each ensemble, shoes included, up for auction on her website.
i'm uncomfortable w/jessica seinfeld giving her the shoes since it stinks of payola even though i don't think it really is. seems like there was some other way to 'thank' oprah that would have been less 'personal' and more meaningful.

Posted by: methinks | October 16, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

[On that note, I'm going to think of other things I secretly hate that people chastise me for or I'm too embarassed to say aloud. Will report back...]

Posted by: not bluto | October 16, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I vote to leave Oprah alone, she does give tons and tons and TONS away (school in S. Africa anyone?)She might not be as demure and delightful as Diana, but as Anonimis suggested, she's probably better in terms of self-absorption than most billionaires or the general populace. I think donating the shoes, or at least saying "I'm donating the shoes" would be tacky - they were a gift and should be accepted graciously. Seinfeld was being a suckup and it did look as though she were making a payoff - if SHE had made a donation in Oprah's name or something, that would have been classier (Because, what, Oprah can't buy $20,000 worth of shoes on her own?)

Posted by: Omaha | October 16, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I not an Oprah fan but she deserves praises much better than crazy Angelina Jolie.

Posted by: Lisa1 | October 16, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

BTW, that was supposed to be deign.

Also, the thought of giving someone a wildly inappropriate & expensive 'gift' in lieu of a thank you just makes me feel a little icky.

And what possible reason would Oprah have to show this on her show. This is not how normal people live by any stretch of the imagination.

Hoo boy, I think I'm getting a tad worked up, sorry folks.

Posted by: jes | October 16, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you, Liz. The gesture was the epitome of tackiness and Imelda Marco-ness.
I'm not an Oprah fan because I hate what she has done to American literature. Some will say she wants to get more people reading, but I think she promotes books written by people who write about "nice" things she approves of and lick her boots. Not good for creativity. Just look at all the chick lit crap that is now in every bookstore.
Can you see Oprah approving "Lolita" or "Portnoy's Complaint"?

Posted by: POS | October 16, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else think this is a weird gift, in general? I mean, certainly not a thank you gift, which would have been much better if J-Sein (yes, I went there) had just baked some stuff and sent it to her (nice and heartfelt). But, seriously, how many women trust others to buy shoes for them? That's a little below underwear on the list of personal gifts. They have to fit right, you have to LIKE THEM and so many other things. Heel height, etc.

What an odd gift. J-Sein, that was too tacky.

And O should totally donate them or something worthwhile. But certainly doesn't seem like a proper thank you gift.

And Liz is entitled to hate anyone she wants -- after all, she writes a blog on celebrities. Would anyone read it if she sat around saying how squishy and pink all the celebrities are? Snooze.

Posted by: Shoes? | October 16, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

While we're all praising Oprah for how much money she has given away to charity, remember how much money she has. And earns every single day. Her charity has not hurt her lifestyle one iota. She has not sacrificed anything to give stuff away. A million dollar donation for her is a drop in the bucket. Sure, it's nice what she does. But remember, she lives like a queen and she throws the regular folks her scraps.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Nothing to do with the topic at hand but I need to know the appropriate punishment for the man I just saw who is wearing pants that are not only pleated but tapered as well...

Posted by: Not about Oprah | October 16, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I agree Liz. Oprah has gotten too bizarre the past few years. Her "interviews" tend to just have the stars (or more rarely non-famous people) bask in her Oprahness.

Posted by: md | October 16, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy the occasional Oprah show. If she didn't have Dr. Mehmet Oz on, I'd give the whole production a miss. And it is true that there exist many more vile billionaires out there. It's great that Liz relayed a dissenting opinion, rather than laying more peonies at the shrine of Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey is not above scrutiny and negative criticism, and Liz wittily pointed out these contradictions.

Posted by: Inspector Oh | October 16, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

FYI...there's a nice story about Debbie Harry on the NY Times website today. Her godawful outfit from the Caption o' the Week contest a few weeks ago notwithstanding, Ms. Harry sounds like she's still a pretty cool femme.

Posted by: methinks | October 16, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Forget blogs and MySpace, Oprah and other personalities were the first to make the Altar of Self-Worship popular entertainment among the masses. Oprah shares with you her dogs! Her country house! The gifts she gives for Christmas and the books on her night table! Not only are we allowed to satisfy our voyeuristic desires, we are welcomed with open arms. The relationship between voyeur and idol becomes a religion, and we are invited to praise and read from the bible (err, O Magazine) and if we follow the word of the O, maybe one day She will bless us with her Favorite Things and a place in heaven: the studio audience. Don't miss the sermon of the day, syndicated nationwide. Check your local listings.

Posted by: DJ | October 16, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

who knew so many celebritologists were socialist! let's redistribute the wealth! ;-)

Posted by: b | October 16, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

You know who could put those shoes to good use? Sarah, from "Joe Millionaire". That's right. Sarah. From "Joe Millionaire".

On the heels of her humiliating loss to Zora in the tension-dripping finals some years back, she's hardly had more than a couple of bondage and foot fetish films come out, according to imdb.com. A new fleet of shoes could be just the trick to get her back on her feet...

Posted by: Thor | October 16, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Oprah was on Larry King for his big anniversary week. He asked her about her wealth, and she said something to the effect of "I'll be in a store, trying to decide between say a blue sweater or a green sweater. Then it will dawn on me that I can buy both!"

I thought it was very honest of her. Oprah CAN buy whatever she wants. Why should she deny it or pretend otherwise? Remember, Oprah grew up poor. This whole idea of being ridiculously rich could still kind of be a novelty to her. I like that she's honest.

So, I like Oprah, and have no problem with her being on the receiving end of an incredibly generous shoe gift. The largesse probably blew her away. Perhaps she was intrigued to experience being on the receiving end of extreme financial generosity - something that she has provided for others for years.

Now, Mrs. Seinfeld could have chosen a gift that was more tasteful or heartfelt, or whatever. If anything, criticize her decision.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Solution: Get her together with Hax. And is Imelda still around? Instead of "let them eat cake" it can be "let them talk shoes". Then get rid of Imelda and see if they can bond on... whatever it is exactly that Oprah does.

Still trying to get over the fact that not bluto is only 26. Sheesh. I'd always kind of thought the name was a joke on Popeye's nemesis, but if he's only 26, he probably never saw the comic strip...

I feel old.

Posted by: Bogota | October 16, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Bottomline:

Mrs. Sein = sycophant.

Oprah = person kind enough not to point it out, but instead show appreciation for a nice (albeit stupid) gesture.

Posted by: Mina | October 16, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I think DJ hits the nail on the head. To me, it was when she came out with her "O" magazine and has never put an image other than herself on the front cover.

Posted by: ks | October 16, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I like Omaha's suggstion about how Ms. Seinfeld should have made a donation in Oprah's name rather than given the shoes.

That said, they were a gift. You accept them graciously. Showing them in her home is what Oprah does. She lets us in her personal life. Hello, weight problem stories anyone? Unlike a certain loud mouth tacky former talk show host, Oprah confronts her past and tries to improve her present instead of using it to justify boorish behavior.

Posted by: ep | October 16, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but Oprah is a silly old cow with far more money than common sense. She is in a position to make large donations to charities that are commensurate with her personal values, while also giving new cars to her studio audience members.

As a result of her high-profile philanthropy (and simultaneously playing to the lowest common denominator), O. has become a stylemaker and trendsetter in our society. And shame on us, for giving credence to her ridiculous and often ostentatious tastes in the first place, and then for placing her on a pedestal for giving to the less fortunate in a way that most of us would hope anyone in her position would do.

Posted by: Helena Handbasket | October 16, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I can take or leave Oprah, on one hand I think she is a little self centered, I mean give up the cover of the magazine just once. On the other hand, I like that she's honest about her money, she has it, she spends it, and she seems to be responsible about it, but then she did give us Dr. Phil. I believe she genuinely wants to help people, maybe not always in the best way, but her heart is in the right place. I do not believe she's lost touch with reality, she lived it, she earned everything she got, for a black woman that can't sing (or act), that ain't easy. There is a reason she's been doing what she's doing for 25+ years. Give her some credit. As for the shoes, they were a gift, she should be able to do whatever she wants with it.

Posted by: jake e. poo | October 16, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand how Oprah receiving an inappropriate gift from Senfield reflects badly on Oprah. Shouldn't this blog be about how ridiculous the gift-giver was?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I really have to disagree with chicagomom...yeah Oprah has a really nice life style, a million dollars may be "a drop in the bucket," but she gives away a lot more than "a million" every year that we know about. How much does she have to donate before she is considered sufficiently "generous?" And she has made her own success - she came from worse than nothing and is now one of the most powerful women in the world. How much of that success should she be "allowed" to enjoy? I'm not much of an Oprah fan, but I think it is ridiculous to hear people criticizing her for giving away "just" a few million dollars. There are plenty of reasons we can roll eyes at her antics...selfishness is not one of them.

Posted by: Omaha | October 16, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree that giving Oprah the shoes as a feels like a lot like a payoff and not at all like a gift. That same money could have been donated to charity, start up a fund to send kids to college or something but it feels off. Jerry may need to pull a Tom and slice up the credit cards.

While I disagree with Oprah on somethings, mainly her views on rap and her choice of reading materials. I do admire her and give her props for the charity work and working hard to get to where she is now, more power to her. I have to disagree with you on this one Liz.

Posted by: petal | October 16, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I think no one would argue that her charity is a great thing. I think it's more the approach to the charity, i.e., using it to promote her own Oprah brand and to improve her public image. Contrast that to what Bill Gates does with his foundation and how he operates that in a pretty invisible way (not to promote himself or Microsoft). Even ol' Angelina does not seem to use her UN work as a plug for her movies.

Posted by: ks | October 16, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I propose a new poll option:
* Return the Christian Louboutin heels to Christian Louboutin, as they are a walking example of misogyny.

Why this poll option? Because women are actually having toes surgically removed to wear these sick things. Why not just go back to foot-binding and get it over with?

Posted by: A new poll option | October 16, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Oprah is just a shill. Her whole television show is about shilling this movie, that book, whatever the next thing is. And in this instance, which I did not see as I'm in the cubicle at 4 pm, she's just adding more shill-gravy to Jessica Seinfeld's book. Jessica's got some pretty impressive PR folks who can get two Oprah shills for one toss.

Posted by: from Columbia | October 16, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Come on, how can we hate on a woman who put the term VA JAY JAY in the American vernacular.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"I think no one would argue that her charity is a great thing. I think it's more the approach to the charity, i.e., using it to promote her own Oprah brand and to improve her public image. Contrast that to what Bill Gates does with his foundation and how he operates that in a pretty invisible way (not to promote himself or Microsoft). Even ol' Angelina does not seem to use her UN work as a plug for her movies."

I don't think O's flaunting it. She has a national television show, for goodness sake, a forum to express herself, 5 days a week. Of course she uses it to shed light on issues dear to her. Duh.

Does Bill Gates have a talk show?

Does Angelina? She has to read the lines given to her a in script, for a movie that may come out once a year. And when she's giving interviews, she's mostly talking about her charity work.

So, what's your point again?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"Shouldn't this blog be about how ridiculous the gift-giver was?"

You are correct, Anonymous 12:31pm. Ms. Seinfeld's gesture of largess and its less-than-subtle air of payola should go down in the Annals of Dubious Giftgiving.

At the same time, Oprah's high opinion of herself, her disconnect from "normal" life and its problems, and the simpleminded excess with which she balances her philanthropy make her a fun and easy target.

Posted by: Helena Handbasket | October 16, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I think the more important question is why in the hell does Oprah have on the bee head-band?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Word, B! Yeah, she has more money than "common sense" (whatever that means). But where's the point where you're supposed to stop making money? She has a product and plenty of people are more than willing to buy it, so why shouldn't she be out there selling it? Hey, I don't like that Kincaid painter guy, but I'm certainly not going to say he should stop what he's doing. And she gives a lot of it to charity. How much of what she earns should she give? I'd be willing to bet she gives a far greater percentage of her income than most people on this blog (myself included). How much should she keep at the end of the year? 100k? 2m? I'm not the biggest Oprah fan, but she can do what she wants with her money. And Helena Handbasket, would you recommend that she give money to charities that are _not_ in line with her values? If you're pro-life would you give money to Planned Parenthood? Isn't part of the point of any charity to make a political statement?

Seriously, people, there's a lot of stuff you can quibble with Oprah about (the whole Dr. Phil thing (bleah!), the celebrity 'interviews'), but to judge her for making money and then not giving enough of it away? Gimme a break!

Posted by: Different Liz | October 16, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I stopped liking Oprah the day she had Mariah Carey on her show that dealt with biracial children. At one point in the discussion, I can't remember what was said, but Oprah looked into the camera and said "you white people think we all look alike anyway" or something to that affect. She lost me, done. I have never liked her since.

I do have to say though that the 20 grand for shoes is probably like me buying my friend a 50 dollar gift certificate to a spa. I am sure the money could be used for better purposes, but I think that both Oprah and Jessica do a ton of work for charity already. I also don't think it reflects badly on Oprah for keeping the shoes, it just looks bad of her to brag about it.

Posted by: Irish girl | October 16, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

To all of those defending Oprah: It's difficult to reconcile her compassion for poor folks and her willingness to live ostentatiously. How do you pretend to care about the poor while sleeping on $10,000 sheets?

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, this reminds me sort of that "scandal" when Michael Jordan was betting on his own golf and poker games. Gee, he was betting $10k at a time? Big whoop! That's like 0.0001% of his income!

Posted by: Different Liz | October 16, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

$15K worth of shoes and I'll bet there's not a single pair of bunny slippers in the lot.

And Oprah calls herself rich.

Poor thing.

Posted by: byoolin | October 16, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

So she should sleep on 180 count sheets she bought at a thrift store? Like I said, I'm not a huge Oprah fan, and I think she does tend to flaunt her wealth, but, hey, she still has a ton of fans who are willing to buy her product. Why is it mutually exclusive that she a) care for the poor and b) enjoy the fruits of her labor? She can do what she wants with her money and shouldn't have to worry about being criticized for it. How much would you allow her to spend on her sheets? $1,000? $500? Because, hey, there are perfectly good sheets available for $49.99.

Another way to put this: How can _you_ pretend to care for the poor when you buy your family name-brand things like Froot Loops and Kraft mac-n-cheese, when you could buy the in-store brands and send that extra $1.50 to charity?

Posted by: Different Liz | October 16, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. S. probably got full value in book sales for the price of that thank you gift.

I saw the writer Tawni O'Dell at a reading on the weekend. Her first novel was picked as an Oprah Book Club selection. She said that before the show announcing it aired, her book was ranked something like 12,000th in sales at Amazon.

By the end of the show (!) it was at number 1.

Oprah's probably at home thinking, "I need more effing shoes?"

Posted by: byoolin | October 16, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Does Oprah still get credit for giving money away when she fuels consumerism in such a big way? Her "favorite things" should be re-named "things only my friends and I can afford but we'll let you peek at."
Can she really not see the link between poverty and commercial/consumerism????
It's not enough to give when you have a hand in taking away, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't go around flaunting my largesse to the world and talking, all of the time, about how generous I am and how much I care about these people and those people. I don't make money off an image burnished by my supposed generosity. Oprah does. She has polished her image as some sort of saint (as evidenced by the I-love-Oprah-she-is-so-generous posts here), it helps her sell magazines and her show, and the reality is, she lives like a queen. I don't for a minute begrudge her her success. But don't think she's not a hypocrite.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Come on, how can we hate on a woman who put the term VA JAY JAY in the American vernacular.

Posted by: | October 16, 2007 12:51 PM


That was on "Grey's Anatomy" first. Give Shonda Rhimes credit for that one.

Posted by: McFactChecker | October 16, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Chicagomom,

Oprah would probably be the first to admit that she lives like a queen.
In fact, I bet I can find that as a direct Oprah quote.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Imagine throwing down, say, $50m on a house. And then going out and talking about how awful poverty is. There's a disconnect there. You can't live like this is the Gilded Age AND be a saintly savior of the poor. It's hypocritical. And like I said, she makes a lot of money off this image of saintliness. If she were truly happy to give away money for no other reason than altruism, she would do it quietly. But she doesn't. She shouts it to the world. She makes sure we all know whens he gives away cash, etc. She makes a huge deal of it. And then she goes home and enjoys the spoils of the image she has just polished.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Most people hate people who flaunt their wealth. And give me a break on "she gives millions to charity". Her giving millions is like me giving $1 to a homeless guy and no one is tossing me a fish for it. Now if she sucked it up and made a real sacrifice then we'd be talking. And her studio audience are just a bunch of money-grubbing opportunists hoping to snare some trinket that they can sell on eBay.

Posted by: Stick | October 16, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

To understand Oprah, you have only to look at her magazine covers. What kind of ego does it take to put yourself on a magazine cover every single month?

Oprah has a huge ego, but it's surely kept afloat by the foul gasses of world-class insecurity.

And, yes, she has far too much influence.

Posted by: magpie | October 16, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"The foul gasses of world-class insecurity" is pure poetry.


Posted by: byoolin | October 16, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey Liz
Big fan but I have to disagree with you on this one. Oprah has done so many charitable acts with her vast fortune that I don't think it is a bad thing that she shared her gift from Jessica with the audience. I saw the whole episode and it was actually kind of funny.
Maybe because of her immense wealth she may be detached(I would be too) but I would never say self-absorbed.
Plus you have to remember a $20K gift from persons on that income level is like me giving a $20 dollar gift card. It's not fair but that's life.

Posted by: Tina | October 16, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The thing that irritates me about this is that Oprah comes off looking boastful; not to mention out of touch with the realty of her viewers who may have to choose between buying shoes and buying food.

Posted by: still | October 16, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"The foul gasses of world-class insecurity" is pure poetry.

Thank you, magpie and byoolin, for recognizing me as poetic.

Posted by: Mister Methane | October 16, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Re: tapered pleats.

Was the offender wearing a braided belt, also?

Posted by: not bluto | October 16, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

McFactChecker, I do not watch Grey's Anatomy, I didn't actually watch the Oprah episode that she used it, I saw it on The Soup.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I knew I liked you for a reason, Liz. I am so glad there is someone else that is so sick of Oprah and her self-righteousness. Yeah she's done alot for charity - but we always have to hear about it and how wonderful she is and how good for the world Oprah is. Blah blah blah. I think that's why I like Angelina's charity work more. You never hear about her going to do something or donating something. She just kind of pops up in remote villages like an international "Where's Waldo?". Plus, Oprah created Rachel Ray and Dr. Phil - 2 fakers (she's never been a real chef and we all know he's not a counselor, therapist, psychologist or anything) who think we want to hear about what they have to say about our lives.

My main problem with Oprah is her always saying, "This is something you won't want to miss" or "This is something you're whole family should watch and learn from." Be quiet, Oprah. You can't tell me what to do!

Posted by: Melinda | October 16, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Luckily I was not close enough to this particular fashion disaster to see if the belt was braided. The shirt however was loud enought to register an 11 on the Spinal Tap amplifier.

Posted by: To: no bluto | October 16, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

This is your life...

You worship at the altar of Oprah. You aren't annoyed by Rachel Ray or Dr. Phil because they were given to you by Oprah. You loved James Frey, you hated James Frey all because of Oprah.

One day you see an episode with a studio full of teachers. Oprah starts small giving the entire studio audience some pretty costume jewelry. A little while later, spa certificates for everyone. Gifts escalate until the end of the show when the each audience member gets her own car from the great & powerful O.

One day your all your prayers to Ste. O are answered and you have tickets to a taping. You get to the studio only to find out today will be 'a very special Oprah' In your mind you've already donated your current rust bucket to a local charity since you're sure this audience must be at least as worthy as a bunch of teachers. You're on the edge of your seat, it's time for you to reach under your seat to see your wonderful gift...

"A donation has been made in your name to the Charity of Oprah's choice"

Posted by: jes | October 16, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Helena, I would pay to read a coffee table book of "The Annals of Dubious Gift-Giving." Will there be a pull-out centerfold of Jack Abramoff? Rrrowr!

And what will you give to Oprah for promoting it when you publish?

Posted by: Violet | October 16, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Liz,
People crack me up trying to tell someone what they should do with their money and possessions. Get over it. You said it already. JEALOUSLY! By the way, each year Oprah either gives away what's in her closet (shoes, handbags, clothes) and/or has a sale to benefit those that are not as fortunate.

Posted by: Barbara | October 16, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I knew Oprah was out of touch when she said she "has her sheets changed every day" because she loves the feeling of clean sheets. Not that SHE changes the sheets every day, but she HAS them changed every day. She then looked @ the audience & asked "Don't you all do that?" & they all just laughed. She was kinda surprised no one else did that.

I honestly don't give a crap about the shoes, I just think it's weird Mrs. Seinfeld gave them to her.

Did anyone see the episode w/Jessica Seinfeld? Basically she purees every vegetable known to mankind & sticks it in her kids food.

Yeah you're getting the kids to eat vegetables, but they're still not picking up the broccoli & eating it. And if you told the kid they already ate broccoli in another dish but it was just all mushed up, they will then cease to eat the other dish.

Seems like an effort in futility to me.

Posted by: Bored @ home | October 16, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"A donation has been made in your name to the Charity of Oprah's choice"

I am so glad someone brought this up, I thought it was a horrible thing for her to do.

Posted by: Irish girl | October 16, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Who is Oprah Winfrey? Is she supposed to be a celebrity?

Posted by: no daytime tv | October 16, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

It's nice that she gives away her clothes to charity every year.

But it's also interesting that we know that. Why do we know that? Because a lot of the "nice" things Oprah does she makes public.

Think about it. Does she have someone anonymously drop her wardrobe off at the Salvation Army or Dress for Success? No. Like with many of her charitable acts, she enlists her PR machine before she does it, she sets up photo ops, she brings camera crews, she makes it a production. Later she may show it on her show, ostensibly to encourage the rest of us to also give away our clothes to charity.

The thing is, if we do, we do it quietly, without fanfare, without adulation, without millions telling us how wonderful we are.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I read an interview with Oprah a few years ago where she was asked what she viewed as her greatest accomplishment, and she said that it was losing 89 pounds, that time she wheeled a bunch of animal fat onto the stage in a little red wagon. Really, Oprah? Your greatest achievement isn't, you know, becoming the first African American woman to have her own talk show? I started hating her at that moment and haven't stopped.

Stick is totally right - yeah, she gives away millions, but as a percentage, it's the equivalent of any of us "regular people" giving away pennies. Even that time she "gave" cars to her whole audience, she didn't pay for them - they were donated by Pontiac (I think it was Pontiac), but she took all the credit. Ugh.

Posted by: Stef | October 16, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Just remember that every time you hear about something wonderful Oprah has done. She's made sure you hear about it. She has an army of people whose jobs are to make sure you know how wonderful she is. And then think about what kind of person does that. Either a very egomaniacal person or a very business-savvy one, who knows it is great for her image to appear generous.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

For the record, "O" magazine sells something ridiculous like 2 or 3 times as many magazines when Oprah is on the cover.

Not that she isn't a self-righteous gasbag, but there is a business reason behind it.

Posted by: I hate Oprah | October 16, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

chicagomom, like it or not, no one wants to come into our homes, take photographs/video of us going through our closets, and televise us giving our nine west shoes to charity.
The fact that we donate anonymously does not make us heroes (or better than Oprah).

Posted by: still | October 16, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

All of you who are brainwashed by Oprah, please raise your hands.

Posted by: no daytime tv | October 16, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I hate oprah: What are you talking about? She has appeared on every cover since the magazine launched.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm hardly a fan of Oprah- but I think Liz's rant, "let them eat cake" is a bit much. I agree Oprah is self-absorbed and deifies herself just a smidge under God, but who are we to say she should donate the shoes or judge her because she is one of the wealthiest women in the universe. Geez, last I checked we live in America- she worked hard and earned her money honestly; I think she has the right to have as many shoes as she wants.

Posted by: plamar1031 | October 16, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Hi still: Remember, it's not like some TV news crews are showing up to Oprah's pad and begging her to video her giving away her stuff. SHE is setting all of this up, using HER camera crews, HER producers, HER public relations staff, throwing it onto HER show and HER magazine. Nobody has to know, or everybody has to know. It's her decision alone. And she decides, time and time again, to ensure YOU know.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

chicagomom, I'm not disputing that she's setting the photo ops/publicity--but I don't think that's the worst thing in the world. So she wants to take credit for her good deeds--big deal.
I was simply responding to was your statement:
"The thing is, if we do [good deeds], we do it quietly, without fanfare, without adulation, without millions telling us how wonderful we are."
All I was saying is that we have no choice but to do our good deeds quietly. She does have a choice, and she's choosing to do hers publicly. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem like such bad thing.


Posted by: still | October 16, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

While I could care less about the dollar value or choice of gift, my problem with Oprah is her absolute devotion to material happiness. I read with disbelief that the dormitories at her school for girls in Africa (wonderful)were built with extra large closets so that the attendees could fill them with the clothes they would be buying with the money that they would be making thanks to the education received at the Oprah school. I found it remarkable that Oprah didn't stop to consider that maybe these young women might want to help support their families out first (common in most other cultures), before resorting to filling their closets with clothes. In her mind, pretty, frilly, expensive, and meaningless things equal happiness and a contented soul. She doesn't seem to notice values beyond her own limited world-view.

One wonders if she would have reacted with such glee if Jessica Seinfeld had made a donation of the same dollar amount to a local food bank in Oprah's name, rather than shower her with expensive shoes.

Posted by: jelo | October 16, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Still: I'd be more impressed with her good deeds if she did them without the fanfare. Think about how it would change your motivation if you had millions of people clapping every time you gave something away. And if your coffers grew everytime you did it. I think Oprah is a brilliant businesswoman, a genius even, but I don't buy the image she sells of herself as a selfless philanthropist.

Posted by: chicagomom | October 16, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the people and organizations who benefit from her generosity don't f**king care about the cameras or publicity, I'd bet that the publicity actually helps with continued donations. Why do people expect her to be more humble about her wealth? Is it because she's black or a woman or both or because she grew up poor? She shouldn't be embarrassed by her wealth, she worked hard for it, she did it the old-fashioned way, she earned it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I'm saying this but...

1) Rachael Ray has always said she is not a chef, just a cook. It's the one thing that I really like about her.

2)Dr. Phil has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psycology. I may not agree with his methods, he does have the degree.

Posted by: MGC | October 16, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Chicagomom -

No, in the very beginning they experimented with other people on the cover and it didn't work.

Posted by: I hate Oprah | October 16, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

What Liz can't stand about Oprah is how she butchers this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvswbFCj3z0

Posted by: Mister Methane | October 16, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

You have to watch the MADtv Oprah parody when she's talking about how to save money and it's all really outlandish things like having a caretaker for your privately-owned resort. One woman in the audience disagrees with Oprah and the audience gasps, Dr. Phil's eyes open wide, the studio lights dim, and Oprah turns into a werewolf and eats the woman.

That's what I think of Oprah. Her top priority is making money. Helping people is a distant number two, but so so many people just don't get that and find out the hard way (like by going on her show).

My sister-in-law met Oprah and said she was gracious and wonderful. Just don't take photos in her house or she'll run you out of town with a smile. For all the many wonderful things she may do (and there are many), Oprah is most concerned with Oprah.

Posted by: td | October 16, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

"By the way, each year Oprah either gives away what's in her closet (shoes, handbags, clothes) and/or has a sale to benefit those that are not as fortunate."


Of course she does. Do you really think Oprah could be seen in last year's fashions? As if.

Posted by: Terri | October 16, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I came late to this discussion, but I agree with Liz on this. Completely. Oprah made my list of media-hounds like Paris Hilton when she endorsed Arnold for Gov of CA. She just added her little push to the conservative right's power at the time. It made me sick how little she followed up with the lip service she gives the the downtrodden and then goes home and gives it no real attention.

How hard is it to do this stupid show? I haven't watched her in years, but the thing was so bloated with commercials it was hard to take.

Whether or not she has a lot of money doesn't matter to me. She is just gauche.

Posted by: chocolatetiara | October 17, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

What a waste of electrons, and an additional contributor to global warming. Nice to see that men and women are dting for the right of someone to give an opinion about someone else's personal life, when our country is systematically being destroyed. Too many other issues in the world to care about Oprah's feet. Most of us could have used this time better by helping a child with homework or an elderly neighbor.

Posted by: Mo | October 17, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Well, I guess Mo told us.

I'm inspired to go help an elderly neighbour.

Posted by: byoolin | October 17, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Er, meant "dispose of" an elderly neighbour...

Posted by: byoolin | October 17, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Yeah so what are you doing reading all these comments for Mo? Got your starving child quota for the day in the bag already?

Posted by: jelo | October 17, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Why does it matter if O. ramps up the publicity machine? Do you think the charities care that she makes a big deal out of giving to them - they are probably ecstatic about the money and the attention? Her publicity probably gives "The Oprah bump" to that charity - resulting in even more donations from us "ordinary" folk. Anyone remember the Live Strong bracelets and the amount she was able to raise from us "ordinary folk." And whose to say she doesn't give some donations quietly and in secret? And since she grew up poor, I'm sure she hasn't forgotten what it is like to change your own sheets or to spend your money on food rather than shoes. She made it. Good for her. I just can't believe the amount of venom this chat is generating. C'mon.

Posted by: Omaha | October 17, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I am so with you about Oprah. I used to have a great deal of admiration for the drive, determination, and talent that got her where she was. I also admired her charitable acts, generosity, and openness. Over time, tho, either she changed or I did--or maybe we both did. I now find her petty, rude, shallow, arrogant, and pompous. I'm not one of the super rich or a pop spiritual leader, so I'm obviously not the kind of person Oprah would ever want to spend time with. That's OK. It's clear that I wouldn't want to spend any time with her, either. Ugh.

Posted by: sen | October 17, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It's astonishing to me that people waste time watching Oprah, self-righteous bladder-of-gas that she is. I won't even buy a book with her book club sticker on it.

As for the lovely Jessica, let's not forget that she left her 1st husband just after their honeymoon, for Jerry. It's all about the money and conspicuous consumption, folks.

Posted by: msdcf | October 17, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

About 12 years ago, I worked for a small appliance company that at the time did not do any sort of advertising -- it was all by product placement. Anyway, someone had the brilliant idea that since Oprah had just renovated her Chicago kitchen, that we ought to send her a full line of our appliances. We did. Within a few months, they were returned with a note signed by Oprah with "thank you, but no" -- that she did not accept such gifts. So when I heard about Mrs. Seinfeld's generous gift, I wondered if she would do the same. I agree, $15k in shoes is grossly excessive and she should be embarrassed -- pretty sure that the man who made that $$ is.

Ick.

Posted by: ljo211 | October 17, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

You really need to get a grip. Oprah has done a lot to improve the lives of many over the years. She has worked hard, too hard for you and others to hate on her the way you do. Trump's house is accented in 14K gold!!!! I do not hear anyone complaining about that!?!?!?! For the millions that she gives away every year and the good that she does does she not deserve a few pairs of shoes???? Does she not deserve for someone to give her something???

Okay, $15K of shoes vs. Millions for the Angel Network, sending kids to college, building an entire school is South Africa, commencement speaker, PBS specials, movie/broadway producer,celebrated news reporter,the list goes on and on.

It is just like our society to start ripping people apart when they achieve success. Why can we not just celebrate with them.

Agree to disagree and celebrate their success.

Posted by: Get over it! CSS | October 18, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

All of you with your negative comments just shup up. Just like Liz would appeases to "her" demographic, why can't Oprah appease hers. This is so funny to me. Everytime this woman gets, do or say something it's making your skin crawl. Here's a suggestion, if you don't like her stop watching her show or talking about her. That to me seems simple enough. I myself will not support or even utter a word of someone I didn't like. Everytime you guys open your mouths in distaste, you make her money and further her fame. This issue really don't have anything to do with shoes beside maybe hating that you didn't receive them and want to be on the list for donation. She must facinate Liz and those who don't like her. I'm not a hugh fan of Oprah but everything she has was earned and maybe this is the real root of the problems that some of you have with her. So, move on Liz get therapy. I sure if Oprah read a book that you or hatin' Oprah fans wrote I'm more than sure ya'll be running to Chicago if you got an invite.

Posted by: smitty21960 | October 18, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I am a fence-sitter when it comes to Oprah. I'm an avid reader, so I'm thrilled that she inspires so many to read. I admire her for her contributions to the lives of the young girls in South Africa and her post-Katrina efforts. However, all the sweetness of her goodworks is diminished by the vinegar of her self-aggrandisement. I get so uplifted watching her shows, only to be brought down by her "and look what I did here" attitudes. Her magazine does bring together some great writers (Lisa Kogan for one..I defy you not to like her style..very Liz-like) and current meaningful articles. She needs to stop patting her own back. A pleasant weekend!

Posted by: Cathy | October 18, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure many of you do hate Oprah, because in this country, and in the world, many people become bitter any time a non-white person is successful and rich, because for one thing, it defies the stereotypes and for another, invalidates those people who think they are better than others based on race and heritage.

If I were raised in a poor household like Oprah and then grew up to be rich, I'd enjoy my spoils too. She gives to charity, and she certainly inspires people. Look at what she did for the Broadway version of "The Color Purple." I hope she continues to be rich and successful.

Posted by: surprise, surprise | October 19, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

wow, liz. I was a little taken aback at some of your Oprah comments- all I want to note is that she does give plenty for charity, colleges, homes in New Orleans, etc. etc. How do you know she won't give the shoes away (she has done so before, And clothes). Were you aware of that? Your post just seemed rather mean-spirited, especially since Oprah has not hurt anyone/been in jail/known for drunk driving, etc. I lost respect for you too, Liz. Your column used to be fun to read. (And I am not a rabid Oprah fan- I WORK and don't have time to watch daytime tv; wouldn't interest me much even if I did have time to watch.)

Posted by: wow | October 21, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Oprah gives back millions to community and charities? so what? of course she does,she has millions to give. but unlike the rest of us who donate in accordance with our pay checks, she gets way too much attention for doing it. Her self promotion is so nauseating I can't watch her show anymore. It's nothing but a 45 minute commercial to promote whatever she and her friends are currently selling!

Posted by: kate.hodges8@gmail.com | October 23, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

i love the clip but where did you get those amazing glitter pumps you are wearing in the show?

Posted by: Shoe-oholic | November 3, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Dare I say it? Oprah was Black at the right place and right time. I remember they used to protest that "she's really very smart," something that never has to be asserted about people who really are very smart. Clever handlers turned her into a brand that targets the insecurities of women who are emotional messes. Oprah is a professional emotional mess. I imagine that being her friend is a burden and a rollercoaster of fraudulent emotions. Thank God I won't meet her unless I become as big an ass she is and buy a ticket to one of her shows or write an exploitative book that she can make money hawking on her show.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 2, 2007 3:12 AM | Report abuse

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