Oprah's Freudian Couch
Who knew that a piece of furniture would ever become a cure-all for Hollywood's ailments? Sigmund Freud may have used his couch to help improve his patients' mental health, but the intimate setting of his office was always one of the elements required to get well. In only two decades, 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' has taken therapy from an intimate setting into the world of network television, and Tinseltown is reaping the benefits.
Whether to extol the virtues of a drug-free life or to self-flagellate over the past, celebrities flock to Oprah's vibrant couch when they want to make a splash (and a buck). There is a method to this upholstered madness and it isn't a quest for psychological peace. The recent appearances of Whitney Houston and Mackenzie Phillips have proven that Oprah's couch has two main purposes in Hollywood (besides hawking one's goods) - one is to bolster its sitter's good fortunes, the other is to act as a shoulder to cry on.
TV star Phillips' appearance on 'Oprah' definitely fits into the latter category. The 'One Day at a Time' alum set the gossip world aflame last week when she revealed that she and her father, Mamas and the Papas' frontman John Phillips, had an incestuous relationship. And the tears will hopefully lead to Phillips' publishing good fortune - her new memoir, 'High on Arrival,' has just been released.
Phillips visit to Oprah's couch has bolstered its position as the stars' chosen seat of ill repute. Prior to that, in her first interview in seven years, Whitney Houston appeared on the show to promote her new album 'I Look to You' (released August 31, 2009). Not one to waste a public appearance, however, Houston also took the time to reveal details about her substance abuse with husband Bobby Brown, including a drug-fuelled pajama party that lasted several months.
Oprah has had an appetite for smut since she first took to the small screen in 1986. In early seasons of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' stars would appear not only for publicity, but also to "set the record straight" after their reputations had been compromised. The highest-rated single episode of Oprah's show was Michael Jackson's appearance in 1993. During his time in the hot seat, Jackson attempted to put to rest various rumours about his life and, for the first time, publicly claimed that his complexion had changed so dramatically because he suffered from a skin disorder called vitiligo.
A decade later, stars were taking to Oprah's sofa simply to celebrate their successes. Tom Cruise's appearance on the show on May 23, 2005, became the most notorious. The actor professed his love for then-girlfriend Katie Holmes by jumping on Oprah's unsuspecting couch and falling to one knee. His actions even led to critics coining the term "jumping the couch" to denote a public meltdown.
For optimists who believe Winfrey will one day leave analysis to the professionals, think again. Winfrey claims her worst interview ever was with actress Elizabeth Taylor who refused to talk about her relationships with the host, leading to a string of awkward silences. Taylor later apologized and returned in a better mood, i.e. ready to be soothed by Oprah and her magic couch for the world's enjoyment.
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