Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oh, N'Oprah, Not Again






Looks like Oprah's book search staff may have let her down again because surely Oprah will take no blame for this...or anything else. USA Today discusses Oprah's latest misstep in the book world.





Could Oprah Winfrey's televised blessing become an embarrassment for recipient Jessica Seinfeld?

After the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld appeared Oct. 8 on Winfrey's show to discuss her cookbook, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, online message boards erupted with questions about the originality of the book's premise.

Winfrey extravagantly praised Deceptively Delicious, which explains how to slip healthy food into children without their knowledge.
...
Deceptively zoomed up the best-seller lists. The $24.95 book is No. 2 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list. More than 1.2 million copies are in print.

Soon after Seinfeld's appearance on the talk show, postings at Amazon.com and Oprah.com noted that there is another cookbook that advocates these same techniques and specific ingredients: The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine, the former publisher of Eating Well magazine. Published in April by Running Press, the book has 150,000 copies in print.
...
Lapine says she and her publicists pitched the Oprah show five times without success. She also points out she submitted her 139-page book proposal with 31 recipes and 11 purees twice to HarperCollins (Seinfeld's publisher), once in February 2006 without an agent and again with an agent in May 2006.

"The one big fact is that they had access to my manuscript early on," Lapine says. Seinfeld's book was signed up in June 2006.

"There are at least 15 of my recipes that ended up in her book," Lapine says. However, she says, recipes are hard to protect: "If you change one ingredient, you're safe." She says that after her publisher contacted HarperCollins, Deceptively's cover was modified from the one featured on a promotional brochure. The word "simple" was inserted in place of "sneaky."
So the question is whether or not Seinfeld's publisher and Oprah were interested in the book mostly because of her celebrity status and the ratings and sales that her name would bring to the project. I'll admit that I'm not a fan of Oprah's book club, but even her fans will have to admit that this is getting ridiculous.

20 comments:

  1. Come now. Surely you can't think that Jerry Seinfeld's wife would have a leg up, so to speak, in the publishing world?

    Oh my illusions. Shattered.

    And what's wrong with Oprah championing a book? I never have figured that one out. If a soccer mom reads it, it must not be real literature?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why must Oprah insist on giving me more reasons to dislike her? I certainly have enough already.

    ReplyDelete
  3. oh, it was Seinfeld's celebrity that attracted Oprah, without a doubt. Still, I don't see that there's anything wrong with Oprah promoting books - I'm always interested in new books. I view her recommendations as I would those from anyone else - with a grain of salt. Just because she gets herself into pickles sometimes is no reason to discount her intentions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Carrie, I'm not naive enough to expect everyone, or anyone, for that matter to play "fair" when it comes to business. What I resent in Oprah, however is her "holier than thou" image that she works so hard to maintain.

    I have no problem with her promoting a book at all. She's picked some good ones and some that I don't care for much...she's good for book sales and may actually be encouraging some non-readers to read. Those are good things.

    But this kind of "you scratch my back..." sort of thing I do find to be discouraging when it costs some lesser known writer the opportunity that seems to have been so nonchalantly handed to a millionaire celebrity wife.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Susan, I do believe that she started off with good intentions and that she probably still has them. The way that she handled that last fiasco, however, made me think much less of her as a person than I did before.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Matt, I will confess here in front of God and everyone that my dislike for Oprah...maybe "distrust" is a better word...goes back quite a few years. She once came to Beaumont, Texas, to do her show from a television studio there. I agreed to go to the taping with my wife. We stood in line for hours and were on the verge of being allowed in to the studio when someone on the Oprah team decided there were not enough black faces in the audience. So about 20 black faces were plucked from near the end of the line and brought into the studio, shutting us out completely after having waited for so long.

    That incident told me an awful lot about "image" vs. reality...made me into even more of a cynic than I naturally tend to be.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I failed to mention that we were told by the person closing the door on us that Oprah had taken a look at the audience and decided that she was unhappy with the mix...line, be damned.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sam,
    I will watch OPRAH no more forever. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, and I wouldn't buy that cookbook by ? either. I detest the cover.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a little off the point, but I was reading how books like this are actually detrimental to kids. Also the 100 calorie snakc food and stuff - kids start associating the chocolate flavor (or whatever the flavor) with stuff that's healthy to eat. Then they don't differentiate the good chocolate from the bad chocolate and they never learn to actually eat fruit and vegetables. These "healthy" snacks are actually perpetuating the unhealthy lifestyle that's making kids fat.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In addition to which...Oprah thinks that the nutritional advantage of adding half a tablespoon of frozen spinach to a brownie is worth talking about? Way to save the world.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Whoah, Sam, you sure can keep a grudge! ;) It's pretty obvious that her audiences are cherry-picked. Those people look like they fell out of a catalogue. But she does a lot of good and addresses a lot of important but sensitive subjects with a minimum of sensationalism. I think that is something to be thankful for.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree on the cover, Bybee. It's some kind of weird throwback to the fifties, I suppose, but it just doesn't work.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That makes sense, Annie. The kids are still going to be addicted more to the taste of the junkier food than to the healthy food hidden inside it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mella, it's all about ratings. The Seinfeld surname helps gather in the viewers and advertisers. That's really what it's all about.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sylvia, life's too short for second chances. When folks show me that they can't be trusted or that they are phonies, I generally do write them off for good. It's a weakness of mine that I've never been able to conquer.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hmmm, that reminds me of something...

    ``No'' -- said Darcy, ``I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. -- It is I believe too little yielding -- certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. -- My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.''

    ``That is a failing indeed!'' -- cried Elizabeth. ``Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well. -- I really cannot laugh at it; you are safe from me.''

    ReplyDelete
  18. Whoa!! I agree with that, very ridiculous!! Thanks for the article.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks so much for that interesting take, Sylvia. I'll have to remember it next time my wife chastises me for that particular "shade in my character." :-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Glad you found it to be interesting, Kristina.

    ReplyDelete