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TV Column
Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 02/16/2012

Oprah — Jimmy, Jimmy — Oprah

Oprah Winfrey, recovering from a weekend Twitter embarrassment, let ABC announce Thursday she will kiss and make-up with the late-night show host who has mocked her for years.

 That is, the OTHER late night host who has mocked her for years. She buried the hatchet with CBS late night host David Letterman way back in ’05 – it coincided with her mounting of a B’way production of “The Color Purple” at a theater located spitting distance from Letterman’s studio. That ended nearly two decades in which Oprah refused, despite Letterman’s repeated requests, to return to any show he was hosting, telling Time magazine it was because, back in the 80’s, when she was his guest, she was the butt of his jokes.

ABC announced Thursday that Oprah Winfrey will “headline” Jimmy Kimmel’s live late night show after the network’s broadcast of the Academy Awards, on Feb. 26.

Speaking of “butt of his jokes,” Kimmel is the guy who had his late-night audience sing the “All Hail Oprah!” song with both arms stretched stiff and skyward, the guy who, web site TVtattle notes, created the Oprah Voice App — and the guy whose previous, Comedy Central, program, “The Man Show” was reported to have been created in response to the Oprahization of America.

And yet, on Academy Awards night, Winfrey has agreed to “headline” “Jimmy Kimmel Live’s” annual “After the Academy Awards” program. Oprah’s getting this year’s humanitarian award, “for her inspiring philanthropic efforts which have brought credit to the industry,” ABC explained.

Yes, she’ll have to share the spotlight with George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Don Cheadle, John Krasinski, Oscarcast host Billy Crystal, and others who have also been booked to appear on the show.

On the other hand, none of them got the ABC “icon” treatment. That’s how ABC described Oprah in its announcement. Also “philanthropist.” Also “Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner” and, grandest of all, “one of the most influential individuals in the world.” No mention of “struggling cable network co-owner” or “desperate tweeter.”

Last Sunday, during CBS’s broadcast of the Grammy-Awards-cum-Whitney-Houston-tribute, Winfrey tweeted the plea: “Every 1 who can please turn to [Oprah Winfrey Network] especially if u have a Neilsen [sic] box.”

That night, OWN was debuting a new episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”

Problem is, TV networks and the people who are behind them are not allowed to try to sway Nielsen homes like that, per Nielsen’s rules. When it’s been done in the past, Nielsen has expunged the network’s ratings for the particular show they were plugging so any resulting ratings increase will not be included in the program’s average. WHen last heard from on the subject, Nielsen said it would work to “resolve the situation” in re Oprah’s tweet.

“We take any violation of our policy seriously and will work with clients to resolve the situation,” Nielsen said in re Winfrey’s tweet.

After word of the gaffe got out Sunday, Winfrey expunged the tweet and, began to defend herself against critics, tweeting:

“‘Desperate’ is not ever part of my vocab. Just making a request.”

and

“The word ‘please’ is used as courtesy not a beg.”

But later, as befits one of the most influential individuals in the world, she tweeted, “You really are more than a number.”

Ironically, just a few days after Oprah urged viewers to turn away from CBS’s tribute to Houston – which was by far the biggest thing going on in TV Sunday night – TMZ reported Oprah had scored “one of the coveted invitations to Whitney Houston’s [invitation only] funeral on Saturday.” Severasl of Houston’s famous friends have been invited — Kevin Costner, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, etc. — but Oprah is “by far the most famous person on the guest list,” the celebrity tabloid show reported the same day ABC announced Oprah would headline Kimmel’s post-Oscar show.

By  |  10:42 AM ET, 02/16/2012

 
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