Grrr! Oprah, Oprah and Oprah

This column is about Oprah Winfrey (search), the Grrrs and the non-Grrrs.

First, a great big non-Grrr! to the fact that Winfrey announced — during the season premiere of "Oprah" on Monday — that she will donate $10 million of her own money toward hurricane relief in the Gulf Coast.

This is an amazing gesture (although the "announcement" of the gesture makes me Grrr!) that trumps her giving away brand new cars to members of her studio audience during last season's premiere, and one that I wish would be copied by every other extremely wealthy American with money in reserves.

Oprah's donation is much needed and, I'm sure, greatly appreciated. It's too bad so many others are not following her lead, and not just in communities devastated by natural disaster.

It's about time the common catchphrase of the rich and famous, "giving back to the community," became more than just lip service or spending Sunday cleaning up a neighborhood park.

Suffice it to say that Oprah is on the right track here. Wouldn't it be something if other gazillionaires invested in the kind of rebuilding that promotes community and self-reliance, rather than blindly donating or endorsing funds that do nothing more than foster a welfare class?

Actions, in this case, speak louder than endorsements, er, political non-action.

But back to the Grrr....

Grrr! Hermés

Oprah's much anticipated showdown with French fashion boutique Hermés was a major letdown. I for one was hoping Oprah would put a hurting on the hoity-toity firm, but instead, she came in like a lion but went out like a lamb.

Basically, she had the CEO of Hermés America, Robert Chavez, appear on her show and apologize to her for a shopping snub back in June.

Oprah accepted the apology, and let the blame for the snub fall on the shoulders of one "rude employee."

Please! Oprah should have taken Chavez down. What's going on there?

Why didn't Oprah hammer Hermés, or even go so far as to suggest to her viewers that we should go out and buy Birkin bags... which by the way start at $5000 and, depending on the amenties, can fetch up to $80,000.

No wonder Martha Stewart, who famously carried a Birkin to her trial, was convicted by a jury of her "peers."

Oprah said the Birkin is a great bag, but I don't know if even the mighty talk-show Queen can bring back the Birkin after Martha's fashion faux-pas.

Grrr! Jennifer Aniston on Oprah

Grrr! to Oprah's champagne chat-fest with Jennifer Aniston. Yes, Aniston is right to want people to just "turn the page" when it comes to reading stories about the demise of her marriage.

But aren't there millions of divorced people in this country? Aren't there millions of broken hearts in this country? Why is it when Jerry Springer or Maury Povich features women and men who have been cheated on, it's called "Trailer Trash TV?"

But when it's a celebrity who is hurt, well, then it's "poor little Jennifer got her little-wittle heart broken," and the interview takes on an air of friendly chatting over a glass of expensive champagne.

Give me a break!

Yes, we are celebrity-obsessed to a fault, but anybody who believes that the majority of celebrities are capable of being monogamous is truly naive.

If it were not Angelina Jolie, it would have been some other beauty who caused Brad to stray.

And don't think for a minute that Brad Pitt will be the last man in Angelina Jolie's life, or that some day Jennifer Aniston wouldn't have met another guy, like me for instance (joke), and would have broken Pitt's heart.

Here I go digressing again, but just in the last few days we saw Renee Zellwegger's short-lived marriage to country crooner Kenny Chesney fall apart.

"Sopranos" daughter Jamie-Lynn DiScala is divorcing her manager/hubby, and will most likely be Jamie-Lynn Sigler again by the time "The Sopranos" is back on HBO. That's just this week.

Is it Hollywood's fault that none of its biggest players can manage to stay in wedded bliss? Well, no. Don't forget, not all celebrities come from Hollywood. How many times do you hear about media celebrities who go through marital problems, like Matt Lauer or Larry King or Donald Trump?

The issue is more than just morally corrupt actors. It's about the culture of celebrity that makes nearly anything one could possibly want accessible.

You see a beautiful woman, OK, she's yours. You see a hunky young man, OK, he's yours. You want a new car? Hey, for the most part, celebrities don't even have to pay for them ... and they're the ones who can afford it!

How many times has Trump been given a free meal at a restaurant? Trust me, he can afford it.

But on the flip side, when every one of us little people bows down to celebrities for their simple act of having dinner, well, eventually they begin to expect discounts, freebies, even romance.


Grrr! The New York Times

Okay, let's not hold this line against the venerable Oprah, even though it was written in her defense.

"Simpler souls merely relished the prospect that someone as famous as Ms. Winfrey would be denied anything, ever," referring to the now famous Hermés snub.

The line appeared in a New York Times article written by Allessandra Stanley titled: "Oprah, No Diva She, Accepts Hermés Apology On Air." (Great headline — not!).

"Simpler souls?" I don't really get it. What is the author getting at with that line? Are we to assume that anyone who is not as famous as Winfrey is a simpleton? Or am I reading too much into that?

Does she mean that anybody who would relish the fact that someone famous got some kind of comeuppance — deserved or not — is a simpleton? I guess Stanley is above that kind of thinking. She would never stoop to wishing anyone any ill.

Not even "simpler souls."

The line drips with condescension. Is the author on the same level as someone as famous as Ms. Winfrey? It certainly seems like it. The attitude is reminiscent of Teresa Heinz-Kerry's comment about First Lady Laura Bush never having a real job. Grrr!


A quick note about Oprah Winfrey: Yes, she may be self-indulgent at times, but Oprah did not get to be the most powerful woman in television without hard, hard work. Come on, people: Like her or not, it's not easy for anyone to make it so big on television, or anywhere else for that matter.

Oprah does it with integrity, and she does it with good intentions. Sometimes, like in the case of the meat industry after her Mad Cow disease remarks a few years ago, her intentions can be harmful, but one needs only to talk to a book publisher to know just how powerful she is (and reading is a good thing!)

Oprah is a testament to the American Dream, and she deserves the utmost respect — even if you don't like her show.

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Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for, writes the Grrr! Column and hosts the weekly "The Real Deal" webcast on and