Voice From the Grave: Whitney Houston couldn’t save herself, but she sure saved Oprah. The mogul’s interview with Houston’s grieving family helped resuscitate OWN, Winfrey’s flagging cable network. Oprah was at her talk-show best, whipping the affair into one of her perfectly orchestrated, quasi-religious experiences. Houston’s relatives attempted to put a bright spin on the singer’s death and her addictions. “Things were really changing,” sister-in-law Patricia said. A true statement, at least, for OWN: 3.5 million watched the special, the channel’s biggest ratings bonanza ever. Says one entertainment source who worked with Houston: “I would not have advised her family to do that interview. The whole thing just seemed odd. But it was good for Oprah.”
A Rousing Revenge: Reproductive rights is serious stuff, but one Ohio woman is having the last laugh. Nina Turner, a 44-year-old state senator, is pushing a new bill that would make Viagra prescriptions as difficult to come by as abortions. “For far too long, female policymakers have abdicated our responsibilities to protect men’s sexual health,” she deadpans to Newsweek. Turner thinks men should submit to cardiac stress tests and go to counseling where they discuss their, um, progress with the little blue pill. Though aging lotharios may quake at Turner’s proposal, at least one fellow appears to be on board: her husband. “He understands this is about equality,” she says.
Losing Bet: Luck ran out for HBO’s much-hyped horse-racing drama: the network abruptly canceled the show last week, sending Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte to the unemployment line. In the official retelling of events, “Luck” was shuttered after the on-set deaths of three horses. But insiders speculated other reasons for the show’s demise. Reviews had been disappointing and viewers elusive. “I don’t know how the ratings played into [it],” says Kathy Guillermo of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “But I’m happy for the horses.”
Tabloid Jailbird: Not since Tilda Swinton won the Oscar for “Michael Clayton” have we seen such a riveting portrayal of a woman willing to go to any length for her boss. Unfortunately, for Rebekah Brooks, it’s looking more like prison than an Academy Award. Last week, the flame-haired former News Corp. deputy was arrested in connection with the phone-hacking scandal sweeping Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Tinseltown is already abuzz over who might portray Brooks on the big screen: Swinton is an early favorite, though Julianne Moore, who plays Sarah Palin in HBO’s new “Game Change,” can clearly do power-hungry sirens, too.
“Scissorhands” Style: With his bizarre top hats, scarves, and tinted sunglasses, Johnny Depp has never exactly been an icon of classic style. Yet this May, Depp will be honored as Fashion Icon of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The organization’s president, Diane von Furstenberg, says Depp was a no-brainer. “There is a natural flamboyance and originality in his style that makes him unique and irresistible.”