I'm Ready For My Close-Up, Ms. Winfrey

By Donna Britt
Friday, November 18, 2005

On Monday, Oprah Winfrey celebrated 20 years on the nation's airwaves with a special episode featuring the best and worst moments of her gargantuanly popular talkfest. The next day, she released "The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary Collection," a six-disk DVD on which she highlights favorite interviews and tells viewers "what I was really thinking."

In the spirit of Oprahness -- I mean openness -- I'll tell you what I was really thinking in a grocery line as I read a recent tabloid article speculating on whom Oprah might one day choose to replace her on TV -- a list that included Katie Couric, Halle Berry and Winfrey's longtime pal Gayle King, who once helmed her own talk show.

Studying the list, I thought of a bolder, less-predictable option:


I want to be Oprah -- and not because I'd enjoy being a one-woman empire and first-name-only cultural goddess (nobody cared about Isis's or Aphrodite's last names, either.) Like the beauty pageant contestant whose desire for the crown has nothing to do with the accompanying scholarship or fame, my motive is pure:

I want world peace.

Starting within my own family, which has, I must reveal -- Oprah's replacement won't hide much -- occasionally argued over something that hasn't troubled Winfrey for decades: money. Boatloads of syndication dollars would make the bills, mortgage, college and private school tuitions, and children's violin-drama-karate-basketball lessons that now bedevil me a distant memory.

I want to be Oprah.

I want to be fitter and far more beautiful in my fifties than in my twenties or thirties. To have my own smart magazine with my face on the cover month after month. To have intimate birthday soirees that include Sidney Poitier, Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner.

I want to have a good-looking, hyperactive show-off jump up and down on my couch -- and have "Entertainment Tonight" yakking about it rather than my husband demanding that our 10-year-old get down, now .

One problem: Oprah is so extraordinary that millions of wonderful women would love to be her -- including Darlene Mathis, the owner of Collectibles Gallery, a Georgetown home accessories store and a proud organizer of the "Oprah Winfrey for Nobel Peace Prize" movement ( http://oprah4peaceprize.org ) featured Nov. 8 on "Access Hollywood."

Mathis's old friend, Rockville public relations consultant Rocky Twyman, got the idea for the movement "from God" after watching the talk show queen give a $1 million check to the U.S. Dream Academy, a Columbia, Md.-based nonprofit benefiting children of the incarcerated. Oprah "didn't praise herself, though people were chanting her name," Twyman recalls of the event. "She gave a testimony to God . . . saying that at-risk families were what He put her here for."

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