By: Mary Fran Bontempo
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I think Oprah may be having an identity crisis.

It’s been just over two months since the Queen of Everything said goodbye to her daily talk show in order to concentrate on her OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) cable channel. And things aren’t going too well.

Let me just clarify that I am an Oprah devotee. I loved her talk show, loved her guests and topics. I loved the way she challenged us to be “our best selves.” (Of course, it’s easy to be your best self when you’re Oprah and have a full staff to help you be your best self, but I digress….)

I was afraid of Oprah withdrawal when she abandoned her scheduled 4 PM visit to my living room, but I knew that Oprah with her own network would supply me with all Oprah, all the time. (Really, is OWN a cool play on words or what? Actually, it’s a bit self-absorbed, but hey, it’s Oprah. She is the nexus of the universe, after all.)

Anyway, now I’m starting to wonder what’s going on with my idol. With a roster of programming that includes a series profiling poor, beleaguered Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, a TV version of sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman’s radio show (a recent program title—“Bedroom Blunders and Sticky Situations”—um, ewww), the classy Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal and the—who really cares?—Ryan and Tatum: The O’Neals, Oprah’s fallen pretty far from her previously lofty presentations. She’s even stealing programs, doing her own version of ABC’s What Would You Do?

I thought that was the worst of it and was willing to give the fledgling network, and my idol, the benefit of the doubt and time. But then, I received an official looking letter from the “Office of Credit & Adjustments” at O, The Oprah Magazine.

The envelope contained “Important Account Information,” advised me “Do Not Discard” and listed a “Credit Amount” of $42.00, due “To the Order Of” me. Well of course Oprah could redeem the lousy programming on OWN by sending me money. But “O” (no pun intended—well actually it is intended) that was not the case.

Rather, the “Rate Adjustment Claim Form” was really a sneaky pitch to get me to subscribe to Oprah’s magazine. Professing a cover price of $54.00, Oprah was making a credit adjustment for me of $42.00. All I had to do to get the credit adjustment was pay the big O $12.00 for a magazine subscription. Hmmm…wait a minute….

Oprah, snap out of it! I know that everyone needs a change now and then. And twenty-five years is a long time to do a talk show. But if you’re trying to fashion a new identity, be advised, Jerry Springer is already taken. Television celebrating life’s messes is not the way to go. Nor is underhanded solicitation for your magazine.

Please, step away from the dark side. Call Dr. Oz, for god’s sake, and do a show about intestines or contagious diseases. Get hold of Nate Berkus and redesign something. Find that wild and crazy Eckhart Tolle and review another one of his completely unintelligible books. But please, leave me out of the O’Neals dysfunctional drama and spare me Dr. Laura’s questionable “advice.” And if you want me to subscribe to your magazine, just ask. Let’s skip the subterfuge.

I hope this is a temporary identity crisis and my idol gets back on track. But in the meantime, I think it’s time to hear what Ellen has to say.

What’s your take on Oprah’s new identity? Click “comments,” below, and share!