Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oprah Fell Into Depression When Beloved Movie Failed

Oprah Winfrey tells Piers Morgan in an interview for his new CNN show that her greatest failure was the movie Beloved based on Toni Morrison's novel that won the Nobel Prize in literature. She said that after the movie bombed at the box office, she went into a depression for the first and only time of her life, feeling that she existed under a veil and asking her chef to prepare macaroni and cheese, her comfort food.

Morgan asked her how much macroni and cheese did she eat. She said "30 pounds worth." Winfrey has struggled publicly with weight issues for most of the 25 years of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

I didn't hide her revelation that she feels Beloved was her biggest failure the way some news sources have in their headlines because the information is not a secret to the multitude that follows the television mogul. It is a good movie, but I've always had the impression Beloved failed due to too much Oprah; she not only produced it but also starred in it, and some people felt she should have chosen someone else to play the role of Sethe, the main characer.

I'm not saying Oprah didn't do a good job of acting in the film (while a New York Times reviewer saw a few flaws in her performance, many critics thought she was "pitch perfect"). What I'm saying is that before I even saw the movie, I remember some average people in 1998 voicing objections to Winfrey casting herself in the leaing role.

I remember people back then saying they felt she wanted too much too soon even though she'd already debuted in the movie The Color Purple and also had appeared in Native Son. You have to wonder, however, why these people were so hard on Oprah starring in her dream project, one she took 10 years to bring to fruition, but have applauded stars such as Barbara Streisand for doing the same thing, producing and starring in movies.

Oprah blames Beloved's poor box office sales on her not understanding movie distribution and marketing well enough. She was surprised when her artistic film's box office sales were upstaged by the horror movie Bride of Chucky.

Piers Morgan's show premieres on CNN January 17 at 8 p.m. central. It replaces Larry King Live.

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