What? No Oprah?
That's correct. No Oprah.
Time magazine threw its annual slick mag party for the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in its April 30 issue, and Oprah Winfrey was somewhere else having a latte.
Stephen Colbert? Sure. He was there. Harvey Weinstein? Check. Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Rihanna, Adele and this newspaper's owner, Warren Buffett, among others? You bet. But the once-unthinkable has now become so thinkable that no one thinks twice about it.
Which is that people assembling their idea of 100 Most Influential Americans ignore Oprah Winfrey completely.
On the other hand, the man whom she introduced to the American mainstream so that he could be elected president -- Barack Obama -- is not only inside the magazine, but in an extraordinarily creative way.
He's the one the magazine chose to write a capsule write-up for its entry on Buffett ("not just one of the world's richest men but also one of the most admired and respected," says Obama).
And that's where the fun is in this issue of Time: Who's writing about whom? It would seem to be close to irresistible to have Howard Stern write about Matt Lauer, Joan Rivers write about Louis C.K., Kathy Griffin on Chelsea Handler, Johnny Depp on Harvey Weinstein, Elizabeth Gilbert on Ann Patchett.
But pride of place for sheer OMG-power goes to Katie Couric's tribute to Sara Blakely, inventor of Spanx ("the comic irony of Spanx is that the woman who became a billionaire after inventing them, doesn't even need them. Poor thing, she was a size 2 when the idea hit her"). It may not measure "influence" to get away with writing brightly and perkily about the manufacture of underwear in Time magazine, but it probably gets this year's prize for establishmentarian chutzpah.
Time's influence issue is the main course in this particular smorgasbord. Some others I'm laying out:
And now the other shoe -- Not everything that's been new on TV the last few weeks has been as good as "Veep" and "Girls" and the return of "The Killing." Two new shows were major disappointments to me. One is "NYC 22," a rookie cop show on CBS created by one of the toughest and best novelists and screenwriters around, Richard Price, which turns out to be a piece of cop show hackwork that isn't nearly as fresh as something like "Blue Bloods" -- still -- is on Friday nights.
The other is the Starz network's "Magic City," which has turned out to be schlock " 'The Sopranos' Meets 'Luck' Meets 'The Godfather' " about a Jewish hotel mogul in late-1950s Miami whose place is eyed by The Mob as a launch to get gambling started now that Castro has wiped out Cuba's corrupt, mob-ridden night life.
We know that never happened, so where's the suspense?
The cast is fine -- Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olga Kurylenko, Danny Huston, especially, as a mob semi-psycho known affectionately as "The Butcher" -- but what they do and say and how they're photographed is tired, cliched and downright murky.
The last big Starz series -- "Boss" starring Kelsey Grammer -- was so good that I had great hopes for "Magic City."
I have to fight my way through it every week to watch it all. The week will come soon, I'm sure, when I just won't think it's worth the fight.
* * *
I was watching Sunday's L.A. Lakers/Oklahoma City Thunder game when Metta World Peace (i.e., the Lakers' Ron Artest) dropped Thunder forward James Harden with an elbow to the ear and temple so vicious that it was actually frightening to watch. It was one of the most savage sports plays I've seen since Lawrence Taylor's career-ending break of Joe Theismann's leg.
The result wasn't nearly that bad. What was frightening about it, though, was that the camera angle that caught it was so perfect that the whole scene looked like something that had been staged for the recent ultraviolent martial arts fiesta "The Raid: Redemption." When ABC ran it in slo-mo, the expression on Artest's face was as angry and out of control as the giant elbow to Harden's head was solid and dead-on.
Slo-mo replays of anything in sports are seldom as perfect and dramatic as that one. As I watched it replayed a few times, I couldn't help but think the camera perfection had to have an effect on the horror felt by viewers and the fury of the league itself in dealing with World Peace/Artest.
It also occurred to me that parents or grandparents watching that game with preteen kids were probably going to have to spend a long time talking to them about what they all just saw.
There was a reason, after all, that "The Raid: Redemption" was rated R.