The intense romance began Jan. 26, "backstage after James was on the show," says a source close to Harpo, Oprah's production company. "James broke down in tears and Oprah hugged him, holding him tight. I think they both realized right then and there how much they really cared for each other." Frey's very public dressing-down, says the source, culminated in "some hot-and-heavy undressing" behind closed doors. A friend of Winfrey and her stunned, now-ex-boyfriend Steadman Graham notes that Winfrey's baby bump also comes as a surprise because the pregnancy came unusually fast, particularly for a 52-year-old woman. "But she's Oprah, y'all. And if Oprah puts her mind to it, Oprah can do anything."
There. Can I give a guest lecture to Columbia University students now?
Because in late January, Bonnie Fuller -- the editorial director of such journalistic pantheons as Star, Celebrity Living and Globe -- got to. She was invited to Columbia's Graduate School of JOURNALISM by the Columbia chapter of the Society of Professional JOURNALISTS (SPJ). To speak about ... JOURNALISM.
What the $#*&$)*@???
Can't we just admit, finally, once and for all, that Bonnie Fuller certainly does something compelling and entertaining, but it is not, for the most part, journalism? Her publications, after all, routinely rely on "sources" that again and again prove to be ... shall we say, wrong?
I mean, good for Oprah that she's been able to direct laser-like focus on the issue of veracity, or lack thereof, in book publishing -- and I'm thrilled that everyone keeps calling for the obvious: that Frey's books should get shifted from the nonfiction best-seller lists to the fiction lists. But while we're at it, I want to formally call for the reclassification of the celebrity tabloids -- particularly those under Fuller's purview -- from "journalism" to "non-journalism."
If we don't, apparently an entire generation of young journalists might think that the advice of people like Fuller is worth heeding. Young journalists like Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, the woman that Women's Wear Daily says is responsible for lining up speakers for the Columbia SPJ chapter. Fuller, Millner-Fairbanks told WWD's Jeff Bercovici, is "sort of the mother hen of this new form that's taken hold and is very profitable," thus justifying the speaking engagement.
I used to keep the most astonishingly preposterous issues of the celebrity tabs, like the Star with the now-legendary "IT'S BABY TIME!" cover (right as unpregnant Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were announcing their split). And Celebrity Living's "JESSICA'S BABY WEIGHT BATTLE!" issue (right as unpregnant Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were splitting). Not to mention Globe's stellar Scott Peterson trial issue, with its "SCOTT WILL WALK FREE!" cover (which, in a classy bonus, also offered a "CHRIS REEVE -- WAS IT SUICIDE?" headline).
Unfortunately, running out of storage space, I tossed most of them. But now I'm regretting that I didn't donate them to Columbia so that the kids there could learn all about the exciting new field of non-journalism.
Of course, I defend Columbia's right to host controversial speakers. But did Fuller have to get humored by J-schoolers? Isn't there some other wacky group -- some Columbia version of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals -- that could have hosted her instead of student journalists?
For years I've said that "celebrity journalism" is as accurate as horoscopes. So, what the hell, why doesn't Columbia's SPJ chapter track down a "very profitable" astrologist who can offer students some reporting tips? And why don't some of the photography students in Columbia's MFA program invite a guest speaker from the ranks of the stalkarazzi that Fuller's celebrity tabs have aided and abetted so forcefully?
But then again, maybe someone from Columbia will, Oprah-style, get on TV -- cable access or even YouTube would be fine with me -- and say, "We made a mistake and we left the impression that the truth does not matter, and we are deeply sorry about that because that is not what we believe."
By the way, I'm happy to report that Oprah and James are expecting a baby girl. Friends say they intend to name it Bonnie.
With apologies to Dave Chappelle.
The Media Guy's column appears weekly on AdAge.com and in the print edition of Advertising Age. E-mail him at [email protected]