After deciding Nicki Minaj is simply not going to grow on me as an “American Idol” judge, I spent Thursday night flipping from one interview to another. Here, then, is what a night of too much TV yielded:
If the missing ingredient in the Oprah Winfrey Network during its infancy was the lady herself, it’s clear that’s no longer going to be the problem. And the short-term boost — whatever it is — from her “worldwide exclusive” with Lance Armstrong was a testimonial to the power of the Oprah name, landing an interview that forced people in my office to ask, if only for a day, “Just where exactly does one find OWN, anyway?”
As for the interview itself, Winfrey asked all the pertinent questions, and Armstrong — albeit with some hemming and hawing — answered them. He lied. He threatened people who were telling the truth about him. I’m glad that’s behind us, because cycling is not a sport I really give a rat’s ass about.
What the hell they’re going to do to stretch the conversation through a second night is anybody’s guess, but if you’re OWN, why not? Heck, slice it up into 30-minute segments and turn it into your highest-rated series.
Fortunately, Armstrong wasn’t the only person unburdening himself on Thursday night. Elsewhere, on NBC’s “Rock Center,” director Paul Haggis spoke about severing his ties to the Church of Scientology, during a segment — tied primarily to Lawrence Wright’s new book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” — that accounted for half the hour.
The piece was fine, for the most part, though I was puzzled by the mention of Tom Cruise’s involvement with the Church without any acknowledgement of having reached out to the actor for comment regarding some of the more alarming allegations against Scientology. At the very least, the program could have excerpted his 2007 interview with Matt Lauer, which, after all, did air on NBC.
Finally, I took refuge from the other blather by watching “The Daily Show,” which opened with a terrific piece on the hysteria triggered by the Obama administration’s relatively modest gun-control proposals.
Still, host Jon Stewart had “Girls” star Lena Dunham on, which — after her Golden Globe win — felt like fortuitous timing. And while Stewart began by broaching the idea the HBO program and mid-20-something star’s success might have triggered a backlash, both he and Dunham treated the topic in a fairly shallow way, when it could have actually been kind of interesting.
Stewart can be a solid interviewer, but only when he’s really engaged by the guest. In this case, he didn’t push anything worth talking about, and on her own, Dunham didn’t have anything much to say.
All told, it was a lot of TV. And unlike Armstrong, I got through the entire ordeal without doping.