Tremors in Oprahland
: "Oprah Winfrey is still the queen of all media, but her crown is beginning to look a bit tarnished," writes Edward Wyatt in The New York Times,
citing three straight years of audience decline of "The Oprah Winfrey
Show." The circulation of O, The Oprah Magazine, has fallen by more
than 10 percent in the last three years.

The weaker ratings come as Ms. Winfrey is embarking on
what is perhaps her biggest project yet: the start-up of OWN: The Oprah
Winfrey Network, a cable channel being created jointly with Discovery
Communications. Its programming, though it will not include "The Oprah
Winfrey Show," which is under contract with current stations through
2010, will entirely reflect Ms. Winfrey’s vision of what she calls
empowering programming.

Tim Bennett, the president of Harpo Productions, Ms. Winfrey’s
primary business venture, said in an interview that all aspects of her
business are thriving and disputed the idea that her political
endorsement had caused problems. […]

Mr. Bennett also disputes the idea that Ms. Winfrey might be
suffering from overexposure, even though she has recently expanded her
empire with a satellite radio show, a network-television Oscar special,
and a deal with Discovery Communications to start her new cable station.

"I’ve never witnessed someone more in touch with the audience she serves," he said. "She paces herself very well."

Perhaps to get ready for all the new ventures, Oprah, 54, is currently doing a 21-day vegan "cleansing" diet. Here’s her blog on the subject.

Women Warriors Face Deep Wounds, Little Care: "This Memorial Day, as an ever-increasing number of mentally and physically wounded soldiers return from Iraq, the Department of Veterans Affairs faces a pressing crisis: women traumatized not only by combat but also by sexual assault and harassment from their fellow service members. Sadly, the department is failing to fully deal with this problem," writes Helen Benedict on the op-ed page of today’s New York Times.

A journalism professor at Columbia, Benedict is author of the forthcoming "forthcoming "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq."

A Female Poet Laureate? Not One in 340 Years: "Ever since the Royal household crowned John Dryden as the first Poet Laureate in 1668, the honour has been bestowed on men of letters from William Wordsworth to Ted Hughes. No woman has ever held the position," reports The Independent.

"But now, organisers of one of the most significant poetry festivals have decided that the wait for a female laureate has been long enough. Chloe Garner, director of the Ledbury Poetry Festival, has made an impassioned call for the appointment of a female poet laureate to redress the imbalance in the 22 male laureates chosen over three centuries."

Garner wrote a letter to the Queen, Gordon Brown, the Tory leader David Cameron, and the Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, calling for the appointment of a female poet laureate when the position falls vacant next year. The letter reads in part:

From the ancient Greek poet Sappho onwards, women have often been drawn to poetry as an art form. Women’s contribution to poetry has been consistently undervalued, as with all art forms, and there have been such female giants of poetry.

There has never been a female poet laureate – there have been female monarchs for centuries, there has been a female prime minister in Britain, and a female currently running for president in America.

Women are beginning to wonder why, when prestigious roles such as poet laureate are being handed out, one sex is consistently left empty handed.

The story includes the names of six accomplished female poets in the running.

The Comeback Actress: We previously mentioned the overdue comeback of Karen Allen, 56, who stars opposite Harrison Ford in the new "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," almost three decades after they first shared the screen in the original "Indiana Jones."

But we just had to take note of this quote she gave during an interview with the Washington Post:

"I was just glad that they were willing to hire a 56-year-old actor to play opposite [Harrison Ford]. Often somebody who’s 35 will come in and be paired with an actor who’s 65, and that usually aggravates me. … Often, I feel like it’s unbelievable, too," she says. "I’m just not somebody who thinks that once you hit 40 you should be put out to pasture."

Here’s hoping we see this fabulous actress in another starring role soon.

Catching Up With Kathie Lee Gifford: In an interview with Media Bistro, Kathie Lee Gifford, the new co-host of "Today’s" fourth hour, weighs in on Silda Spitzer, women in broadcasting and her return to television. On the subject of feeling pressure to look a certain way in a medium obsessed with youth, Gifford says:

I’m over 50 so I’m just so grateful to still be here and feel as good as I do. Nothing is easy in life. It gets harder as you get older. Being healthy is a choice I make every day. I just came from Michael’s where I had my usual free-range chicken and spinach without the French fries. You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once. Even though I exercise, I had to lose a little weight before I started this show because I had gotten into the habit of putting on my sweat pants and scrunchie every day to go to work and sit there writing.

I had put on 10 pounds since the last time I’d been on camera, so I had to get rid of it. Hoda is like 5′ 10," so the better thing to do instead of dieting myself into a frenzy is to say, "Can you believe the legs on this woman? She’s an Egyptian goddess." Just be honest about it. If anything is missing in our culture today — everybody is putting a spin on everything. I’ve just always tried to be as honest as I could with people and by being that way they see your humanity.

Making Up for Lost Online Time: From Women’s eNews: Older women are chatting, keeping up through social networking sites, blogging about the politics and asserting their online place. One 72-year-old blogger objects to this article being written by someone under 60. Read the full story by Anna Limontas-Salisbury (a mere 43). Bloggers interviewed include our faves Ronni Bennett and Naomi Dagen Bloom.

Since launching her site in March 2006 Bloom has been covering composting for urban dwellers, the state of U.S. politics, the risks of HIV for women over 50. Recently the retired psychotherapist, who lives in Harlem, directed readers to a list of questions that women over 55 should ask their doctors.

Not long ago she shared the story of the knitting contest she did not win. Apparently the Yarn Garden, of Portland, Ore., returned her carefully packaged submission: a guide for knitting your very own pouch for a single, sealed condom.

Women over 65 are the least likely of any U.S. group to be online, according to the Washington-based Pew Internet Project’s December 2005 study of how women use the Internet. Only 21 percent of women 65 and older use the Internet, compared to 34 percent of men in the same age group. And older women are far less likely to be online users than women between the ages of 18 and 29, of whom 86 percent use the Internet.

Ronni Bennett, a 66-year-old retired journalist who set up a blog in the late 1990s to collect her aging research, is one of the pioneers. "I’d collected all this research — thousands of pages and tons of books and magazine articles — and I wanted a place to organize it. So I put it on a blog."

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  • naomi dagen bloom May 30, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Very exciting to be in same news mix with Oprah! Lived in Baltimore where she first was noticed as a very different, very smart TV personality who was gracious to her lackluster male co-host.
    Thanks for including the link to my blog…my visitor stats zoomed up! Hope some return to comment on an online exercise support group couple of us are trying. -naomi