Behind the Scenes

Oprah Cancels Book Club

The fate of literature has always been uncertain. In recent times the path seemed secure, guarded by Updike and Barnes & Noble totes. Then, disaster struck. Publishers crashed their Mercedes, agents sold their leather blazers. Inside the tragedy from within Oprah’s private chambers.

Mon Apr 8, 10:20 AM ETNewsday staff reports Oprah Winfrey has finished the last chapter of her popular book club. The talk show host announced on her show today that the book club, as it currently exists, has ended.

Tue Apr 9, 12:17 PM ET The
Today show is taking a page from the Oprah Winfrey playbook and launching its own book club, just days after Winfrey said she was scaling back her own mega-popular readers club.

Harpo Entertainment Group President Jeffrey Jacobs: Morning Big O, I gotta buncha—

Harpo Entertainment Group Chairperson Oprah Winfrey: You’re fired.

Jacobs: Do what now?

Harpo Entertainment Group Spokeswoman Audrey Pass: She’s in a mood, J. J.

Jacobs: The moon flu?

Winfrey: You’re dead. Audrey, take this pen and drive it through his throat.

Jacobs: What’s her deal?

Pass: The whole Couric thing.

Jacobs: Oh my god! The Couric thing! Zero idea what you’re talking about right now.

Pass: The book club thing.

Jacobs: What, the Katie Couric Book Club? What is she going to recommend, cue cards? Don’t even worry about it.

Winfrey: God forbid they should have a single original thought in their coke-burned pinheads.

Pass: O, the American people can smell a cheap ripoff a mile—

Winfrey: Go tell it to Ricki Lake.

Jacobs: I don’t see why we canceled it in the first place. It was pure gold. I named my second boat Spreading Literacy.

Winfrey: It was an engineering problem.

Pass: I heard it was because the actors were having trouble keeping their mouths shut.

Winfrey: Goddamn Franzen.

Jacobs: We were too easy with him. That jacket picture? We pay Leibowitz two grand to shave twenty pounds off him and he’s still not a sex symbol.

Winfrey: It’s the software, not the actors. The system needs upgrading. I don’t think anyone noticed that Open House and Tara Road were the exact same book, but we were pushing it. People were starting to get suspicious.

Pass: So when is the upgrade coming?

Winfrey: We don’t know, two weeks, two months, any day now, blah blah blah.

Pass: I told you we should’ve gone with Microsoft. They’ve been cranking out Joyce Carol Oates books pretty much non-stop, and that’s with Bestseller 98.

Jacobs: Did you tell them we’re looking for a thirty-percent increase in the amount of BONDS BETWEEN MOTHER AND CHILD?

Winfrey: I forwarded the whole memo.

Pass: They said something about beefing up the SOLACE OF FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIP algorithm and fixing the bugs that kept messing up THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE.

Jacobs: Just as long as we laugh and cry … every step of the way.

Winfrey: They’ve guaranteed that in the contract. And they’ve also promised to enlarge the database so we’ll have more names and locations to choose from.

Jacobs: So now we’ll have four small southern towns rather than two? Great.

Winfrey: It’s something, OK, bitch? I’m just worried that Couric will snatch all our readers while we’re waiting for the upgrade. They’re very fragile right now. They’re lacking guidance. They might latch on to the first facelift that comes their way.

Pass: You think Today will recommend real books?

Jacobs: Like what? You take our titles off the list and all that’s left is like Thigh Exercises for Assistant VPs and, what, Dornek the Space Destroyer, Volume 23 or whatever.

Pass: Couric can’t have the cojones to generate her own books.

Jacobs: She’s got the personal tragedy angle, though. People do enjoy that.

Pass: Hey; O was working the personal tragedy angle when Couric was still doing the farm report in, like, Deliverance, Georgia.

Jacobs: Couric’s fresh and the readers out there like to be a part of the latest trends.

Winfrey: They’re going to think she’s more in touch with the suffering, aren’t they.

Pass: That’s ridiculous.

Winfrey: They’re going to think she’s got more cred.

Pass: Oh stop. Put you and her in a steel cage and everyone knows who’ll go crying to her publicist first.

Jacobs: Oprah totally runs Bartertown.

Winfrey: You mean it?

Jacobs: Why are we even having this conversation?

Pass: You slap Couric’s mug on a book cover and sales’ll go down.

Jacobs: ‘This book must be about some freakish midget experiment gone wrong! No way am I going to read that!’

Winfrey: OK, OK, you’re right. But I still think we should send them a message. I don’t want everyone to think they can just waltz in and pilfer our schemes.

Pass: True.

Jacobs: No one fucks with the Big O.

Winfrey: I’m just saying no one is going to miss Gene Shalit.

Jacobs: Understood.


TMN Contributing Writer Joshua Allen is a complex and exciting young man. He is a hard worker and always gives 110 percent. He is a people-person unless that person is a crab and not pulling their weight for the team. If enthusiasm and get-up-and-go are drugs, then he’s a hardcore drug addict. He’s pretty obviously an only child. He lives in Fireland, USA. More by Joshua Allen