Maya Rudolph wants you to know her “Up All Night” character, talk show host Ava, is not based on Oprah. At all.
Chicago Tribune reporter Christopher Borrelli disagrees.
So he decided to call Emily Spivey, the show’s creator, and ask her about it. She told him, “We wanted Ava to be her own thing, but, yes, sure, it is fair to say she is Oprah-esque.”
That’s what Post TV critic Hank Stuever wrote of the character, as well: “Maya Rudolph is here to lift the show up several notches as Reagan’s boss, Ava, an Oprah Winfreyesque daytime host with an Oprahesque ego.”
Case closed. Except not for Rudolph.
The comedian, who famously imitated the talk show queen on “SNL,” was not going to put up with the comparison. Not one little bit.
“Without a doubt, she wants to be as big as Oprah,” Rudolph said in an interview Borrelli. “A lot of people throw those aspirations around. But you don't necessarily get there just because it's the goal.”
When asked if she thinks Ava exists “on the same plane” as Oprah, Rudolph strongly disagreed:
“No. I hope you didn't get that [from my answer.] Maybe you misunderstood me — completely, actually. I'll start over. I thought I was being clear. She has aspirations to be that. But I don't think many people could be that. I don't see her on the same plane. She is someone more self-consumed. Someone who is trying a new career path. She had one pop hit in the '90s, and she is not Oprah at all.”
But was the Tribune reporter satisfied? No way.
Borrelli tells Rudolph that the font used on “Up All Night” is the same as Oprah’s. “Listen, maybe I'm the wrong person to interview about this. I'm getting the impression that you want to do an article on my character being like Oprah,” she said. “I don't have anything to do with the font they use on the show. But everybody always asks me if I'm doing Oprah, and I'm not.
“I haven't modeled her after Oprah.”
Believe it or not, the interview goes on.
Bottom line: Maya Rudolph did not base her character off Oprah. The real question is, will fellow “SNL” alum Molly Shannon face the same speculation when she guest stars as Ava’s assistant this November? Really, I wouldn’t mind seeing that character take some cues from Mary Katherine Gallagher.
This post has been updated.