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Oprah Winfrey; A True TV Pioneer!

Through the power of media, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. As supervising producer and host of the top-rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, she has entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for the past two decades. Her commitment to use her life to make a difference in the lives of others has extended beyond the realm of television into philanthropy, education, publishing and film. Together Oprah's influence and generosity have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today. Oprah began her broadcasting career at WVOL radio in Nashville while still in high school. At the age of 19, she became the youngest person and the first African-American woman to anchor the news at Nashville's WTVF-TV. She then relocated to Baltimore's WJZ-TV to co-anchor the Six O'Clock News and later went on to become co-host of its local talk show, People Are Talking. In 1984, Oprah moved to Chicago to host WLS-TV's morning talk show, AM Chicago, which became the number one local talk show—surpassing ratings for Donahue—just one month after she began. In less than a year, the show expanded to one hour and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. The broadcasting landscape was forever changed in 1986, when The Oprah Winfrey Show entered national syndication, becoming the highest-rated talk show in television history. In 1988, she established Harpo Studios, a production facility in Chicago, making her the third woman in the American entertainment industry (after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball) to own her own studio. The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 18 consecutive seasons. Produced by her own production company, Harpo Productions, Inc., the show is seen by an estimated 30 million viewers a week in the United States and is broadcast internationally in 110 countries. In April 2000, Oprah and Hearst Magazines introduced O, The Oprah Magazine, a monthly magazine that has become one of today's leading women's lifestyle publications. It is credited as being the most successful magazine launch in recent history and currently has a circulation of more than two million readers each month. In April 2002, Oprah launched the first international edition of O, The Oprah Magazine in South Africa, extending her life your best life message to another broad audience. In 2004, O at Home, a shelter magazine designed to help readers create a home that reflects their personal style, made its debut. This newsstand-only publication will be published twice this year, in May and October.

Through Harpo Films, her film production company based in California, Oprah has a long-term deal with the ABC Television Network to produce "Oprah Winfrey Presents" telefilms. Since its inception in 1990, Harpo Films' projects, which have been based on classic and contemporary literature, have garnered the highest industry honors for quality acting and production. Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God, based on the Zora Neale Hurston novel and starring Academy Award®-winner Halle Berry, will air in spring 2005. In 1998, Harpo Films produced the critically acclaimed Beloved, a Touchstone Pictures feature film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison, which co-starred Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover and was directed by Jonathan Demme.

Oprah made her acting debut in 1985 as "Sofia" in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, for which she received both Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations. She also has been lauded for her performances in the made-for-television movies Before Women Had Wings (1997), There Are No Children Here (1993), and The Women of Brewster Place (1989).

In 1987, Oprah established The Oprah Winfrey Foundation to support the education and empowerment of women, children and families in the United States and around the world. Through this private charity, Oprah has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that carry out this vision. She has long believed that education is the door to freedom, offering a chance at a brighter future, and amongst her various philanthropic contributions she has donated millions of dollars toward providing a better education for students who have merit but no means. She has developed schools to educate thousands of underserved children internationally and created "The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program," which gives scholarships to students determined to use their education to give back to their communities in the United States and abroad.

In December 2002, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation expanded its global humanitarian efforts with her ChristmasKindness South Africa 2002 initiative that included visits to orphanages and rural schools in South Africa where 50,000 children received gifts of food, clothing, athletic shoes, school supplies, books and toys. Sixty-three rural schools received libraries and teacher education. On December 6, 2002, Oprah announced a partnership with South Africa's Ministry of Education to build "The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls South Africa," which is scheduled to open in 2007.

In 1997, Oprah established Oprah's Angel Network, a public charity launched on The Oprah Winfrey Show and featured on Oprah.com, to inspire people to use their lives and encourage them to make a difference in the lives of others. To date, Oprah's Angel Network has raised nearly $20 million, with 100% of audience donations going to non-profit organizations across the globe. Oprah's Angel Network has helped establish scholarships and schools, support women's shelters and build youth centers and homes—changing the future for people all over the world.

Oprah's commitment to children also led her to initiate the National Child Protection Act in 1991, when she testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to establish a national database of convicted child abusers. On December 20, 1993, President Clinton signed the national "Oprah Bill" into law.

Oprah.com is a premiere women's lifestyle website, offering advice on everything from the mind, body and spirit to food, home and relationships. It provides comprehensive resources related to The Oprah Winfrey Show and exclusive interactive content based on O, The Oprah Magazine. In addition, the website has unique original content, including Oprah's Book Club, which offers free in-depth reading guides for each book selection, emails from Oprah, online discussion groups and Q&A sessions with literary experts. Within its first year, Oprah's Book Club quickly became the largest book club in the world, attracting more than 420,000 members. In 2003, Oprah.com also launched Live Your Best Life, an interactive multimedia workshop based on her sold-out national speaking tour that features Oprah's personal life stories and life lessons along with a workbook of thought-provoking exercises. Oprah.com averages 45 million page views and three million users per month and receives approximately 12,000-15,000 emails each week.

Oprah is co-founder of Oxygen Media, which operates a 24-hour cable television network for women that launched in 1998 and is currently available in more than 53 million homes across America. In September 2002, she debuted Oprah After The Show, an original series that airs weeknights during primetime on the Oxygen Network. The spontaneous, unscripted, daily half-hour show is taped immediately following The Oprah Winfrey Show. In recognition of her extraordinary achievements and contributions, Oprah has received numerous honors, including the most prestigious awards and highest industry acknowledgments.

Oprah claims slammed

OPRAH Winfrey's representatives have denied reports the chat show queen is turning her back on her life of privilege for a TV series about the housing crisis in inner-city America.
The 51-year-old, who enjoys an annual income of more than $380 million was reportedly going to reside in a poverty-stricken public housing project in Chicago for a month as part of the series. It was also claimed the popular TV star would be shadowed by security guards during the transformation but will otherwise fend for herself like others living in the projects.

Oprah Winfrey's star shines on "Eyes"

Like it or not, Oprah Winfrey arguably has done more to promote literacy than a thousand teachers. Through her brand-name clout, she's popularized not just particular authors and book groups, but reading itself. The businesswoman, producer, actor and talk-show icon now undertakes to educate the public about a literary favorite of her own.

Zora Neale Hurston isn't a household name, but she will be recognized by a broader public after tonight's broadcast of "Their Eyes Were Watching God," under the banner of "Oprah Winfrey Presents:" and with the above-the-title prominence of star Halle Berry. "Eyes," at 8 p.m. tonight on KMGH-Channel 7, is a beautifully rendered interpretation of Hurston's novel; it is vaguely about love and marriage but more about a woman's journey toward awareness and autonomy. It's a chick flick in the best sense.

Berry is sublime as Janie Crawford, and Ruby Dee is a powerhouse as Nanny. The sets are impeccable - Eatonville, Fla., is re-created on the Disney Ranch with additional exteriors shot in Orlando, Fla. And the sexual chemistry between Janie and Tea Cake (Michael Ealy) sears the screen. Their smoldering kiss is one for the archives. Promoting the movie, Oprah offered beachfront property in exchange for "a kiss like that." Beyond any pretentions to educating the masses, she knows how to motivate her audience.

Hurston (1891-1960) wrote "Their Eyes Were Watching God" in 1937. The African-American novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist was dismissed by the (male) literary establishment for 30 years and remained something of an underground phenomenon until Alice Walker championed her in the 1970s. Subsequent revivals, by feminists, as well as by literary scholars, have guaranteed Hurston a respected place in the world of letters.

More important to ABC, Hurston has a respected place in the world of Oprah. Winfrey told TV critics that, with the exception of Walker's "The Color Purple," Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is her favorite book.

Berry said she hopes "bringing Zora Neale's work to life will be part of my legacy."

And playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, who adapted the book to the screenplay, claimed, "This is one of the things that I was born to do."

They may be talking about a mere made-for-TV movie, but their aim is much loftier. They seek nothing less than to rehabilitate the image of Zora Neale Hurston and restore her as a great figure of American literature, for a new and massive audience, using the most powerful medium of the age.

Network executives don't mind television tipping its antennas to literature, as long as there's enough lust, love and romance involved to draw a crowd. Add a marquee name like Berry's, plus hip director Darnell Martin ("Oz"), and you've got a winner. The film's language, like the book's, takes getting used to. The 1920s Florida African-American dialect, even in its moderated form onscreen, demands close attention.

"If we're going to translate this book to the masses," Berry said, "so that everybody can sort of get the message that Zora wants to tell, you had to change the language a little bit and make it something that audiences today could really latch on to and not have to think too hard." Purists will argue that even the best adaptations cannot convey the sustained joy of the rhythms of the written word.

Hurston wrote: "There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought." Television is often lucky to dip a toe into the basin of thought, let alone plumb the deep gulf. This production approaches that reservoir of knowledge, setting the tone and hoping the viewer finds "thought untouched by words."

In the end, if we're lucky, the telecast will send fans scrambling back to the less passive experience of turning pages.

Thank Oprah for gift of 'God'

Before getting to the achievements and flaws of the Sunday movie "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes were Watching God," time ought to be taken to thank Oprah specifically. Putting her money where her passion is, she's keeping the quality broadcast TV movie alive, when just about everyone else is willing to let it die - or shift to cable.

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" (Sunday night at 9 on ABC) is a romantic novel written in 1937 by Zora Neale Hurston, about a woman named Janie who - like Oprah - listened to her passions, and let them lead her. Janie didn't host talk shows and start book clubs, though. She pursued love and lovers, happiness and husbands, at a time when being a woman, and being black, made that an unusual and controversial.

Hurston's book fell into disrepute and out of print, but it was rehabilitated in the 1970s to the point where it's now regarded very highly. It remains, however, a kissing cousin to a bodice-ripping romance novel, and that aspect of the book is delivered intact by ABC's adaptation.

Halle Berry, who proved, pre-Oscar, that she could play a period role spanning several decades as the title role in the TV miniseries "Queenie," does it again here. A few scenes require the rawness she exhibited in "Monster's Ball," but more require that she be luminous, effervescent and arrogantly independent, all of which she displays with ease.

This is the first big directorial credit since her award-winning 1994 debut feature ("I Like It Like That"), for Darnell Martin, who has overseen episodes of "ER," "Oz" and some of the "Law & Order" franchise shows, and she spends a lot of time capturing beauty. Berry's, for starters, but also that of sunlight catching the surface of a pond, the slow crawl of a caterpillar and the lovingly spread juice of a freshly cut lemon. The movie, like its star, gives the impression of effortless beauty.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (along with Misan Sagay and Bobby Smith Jr.) adapted Hurston's book by adding some scenes and skirting some of the material less accepted by today's ultrasensitive sensibilities (N-word usage being the most obvious example). Of Berry's male co-stars, Ruben Santiago-Hudson cuts a fiery figure as Joe Starks, and Michael Ealy, in his early scenes, packs plenty of heat as Janie's much younger lover, Tea Cake.

Scenes in which Janie stands up for herself, rearing back and flaring whenever one of her men tries to rein her in, are very successful. Scenes in which she and her lovers engage in passion or pathos are more hit-and-miss, but fans of the book, and of Oprah, will forgive them easily. Their eyes will be watching whatever "Oprah Winfrey Presents."

You have it here from the Oprah's mouth

While tabloid reports have put the dieting superstar's weight at 140 pounds, it's actually 163, Winfrey says in the latest O magazine. "I haven't been that low (140) since 7th grade, OK?" she wrote. As part of an overall commitment to good living, Winfrey is working on a three-month exercise and diet "boot camp" with some co-workers. She hopes to get her weight down to somewhere in the 150s, where "I'm not just a meal or vacation away from slipping to the other side and having to fight my way back."

Even we cynical gossipeteers have a soft spot for Oprah, because she tells her readers things like this: When you say that you're too busy to exercise because you have to be there for the kids, or you have too much work, "those are little lies you're telling yourself, and they go against the laws of self-preservation, because the more whole and healthy you are, the more fully you can give to other people."

This movie gives Oprah ideas

Whatever else it's supposed to be about, the thing everybody who watches "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God" on ABC Sunday night will be discussing Monday is The Kiss.

Halle Berry. Michael Ealy. He licks her lips. They lick each other's tongues. And that's before she pulls the light down from the ceiling in the heat of passion and, well, things get really serious.

"I'm going to show that tape to Stedman because I have an open checkbook and some beachfront property if I ever get kissed like that," Winfrey said in a recent chat with reporters about the adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's novel, which was reassessed by critics almost 30 years ago, 30 years after being trashed upon its 1937 release.

"Is that not the kiss of a lifetime? Darnell [Martin, the film's director] had said she was going to reinvent kissing. They wanted to reinvent kissing. That's the best on-screen kiss I have ever seen, and I was very afraid that ABC wasn't going to let that kiss stay in. And I said to Kate [Forte, the president of Harpo Films]: 'We're going to fight for The Kiss.'

"And they never did anything but support The Kiss, so I'd like to thank ABC for supporting The Kiss ... and the eating of the lychee nut."

Love those lychee nuts

Oh, yeah. There's another scene where Berry is dancing sensually, removes a harmonica from Ealy's mouth using her mouth, thus freeing him to slurp up a lychee nut from her hand and keep slurping long after the fruit's been eaten.

"I never ate a lychee nut, but I said, 'Let me go get me some lychee nuts,' " Winfrey said.

"And eat it out of somebody's hand," Forte said.

There's a lot of fruit and sex and water -- lots of water -- and other not-so-subtle imagery with Berry's flowing hair and her sexuality in "Their Eyes," a *** flick set for 8 p.m. Sunday on WLS-Channel 7.

Among the particulars stripped from Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks' screenplay, which nonetheless clocks in at 2-1/2 hours with ads, are Hurston's reflections on the prejudices among African-Americans regarding the darkness of one's skin.

What's remains is a steamy, sweaty, diverting enough tale of a woman coming into her own and asserting herself despite societal expectations and restraints in rural, early 20th century Florida.

Over the 20-plus years we follow desperate housewife Janie (Berry), she goes through three different marriages and assorted heartaches, frustrations, epiphanies and pleasures not limited to fishing and midweek picnics.

She flees her first husband, an old man whose sole asset is the land he makes her work, for a charismatic but chauvinistic community leader (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) who sweeps her off her feet, then puts her under his thumb just as she's blossoming.

The third spouse (Ealy), a dozen years her junior, encourages her to do whatever she pleases and whatever she can, though some suspect he covets what she has and not simply her -- a dubious claim since Janie looks like Berry.

What this take on "Their Eyes" may lack in social commentary, it makes up for in nibbles on the ear, kisses on the small of the back and nuzzling on the neck. A lemon is rubbed on a chin. A freshly plucked flower tickles a foot.

Black people in love

"It's really important for us to see black people, African Americans, in a life that allows not only the history and legacy of the culture, but to show love," said Winfrey, who considers Hurston's novel her favorite love story and gave Berry a copy of the book a dozen years ago, though Berry says she already was a fan. "That's often not seen in a way that people can relate to, so this has been a story that I have ... wanted to see come to life for so many years."

Winfrey called Berry the day after she won her Oscar for 2001's "Monsters Ball" to ask her to play Janie, and she accepted right away. Ruby Dee, Lorraine Toussaint and Terrence Howard were among those who followed suit.

"It's a fully realized character who sort of starts in one place and has this amazing journey and ends up discovering what life is really about and what love is all about," Berry said.

"To be a part of bringing Zora Neale's work to life is something that will be part of my legacy. It's not just making movies to be entertaining. It's actually doing something deeper, and ... I'd do it on a street corner in New York City if that meant it was going to do the kind of good that this movie has an opportunity to do."

OK, but what people will talk about on Monday is The Kiss.

And maybe the lychee nut, too.

Oprah Helps 'Housewives' Star Live Baseball Dream

The World Champion Boston Red Sox -- it still sounds odd to say that -- got a little dose of "Desperate Housewives" magic on Saturday when James Denton took batting practice with the team. Denton's taste of the major leagues, described as his "wildest dream," was made possible by that notorious dreammaker and "Desperate Housewives" fan Oprah Winfrey.

On an earlier taping of Winfrey's show, the all-powerful host asked Denton what his dream was and the "Threat Matrix" star said he'd love to "take batting practice with a major-league team." With Denton in Fort Meyers, Florida on Saturday, Winfrey and the city's mayor, Jim Humphrey, helped set up the surprise visit to the formerly cursed Sox camp.

Oprah's "Wildest Dreams" bus picked Denton up and took in to the spring training facilities, where he was given a Sox uniform with his name and the number "05" on the back. He did drills with several Red Sox players and did batting practice with Ron Jackson, the team's hitting coach.
"I had a great time," Denton gushes. "Ron Jackson and the Red Sox took great care of me. I want to thank Bronson Arroyo and Jason Varitek for taking time out of their schedule to make me feel welcome. Both of them seem like great guys. Jason even gave me one of his batting gloves."

Naturally, Oprah's cameras were following Denton the entire time and his episode will air in May.

Photos of Julia's twins unveiled 'Oprah' style

What new parent hasn't proudly showcased first baby pics to anyone who expresses even a vague interest? It's the same thing for Julia Roberts, although a bit different by degree.

The photos of the happy mum and her new twins (Hazel, Phinneas) were unveiled Thursday on Oprah and will be a cover story and photo spread in the new People magazine. That should just about cover those interested in viewing the baby pics snapped by the nova's lensman hubby, Danny Moder, in their Taos, N.M., manse.

The Oprah unveiling, reports World Entertainment News Network, prompted tears from the talk-show diva as she read a note from starstruck Julia that said:

"Oh, Oprah, the babies are amazing. The way they stare into your eyes, their exuberant smiles, how they begin each day all warm and sleepy, smelling of promise. I suppose I never realized it before -- babies aren't really born of their parents; they're born of every kind word, loving gesture, hope and dream their parents ever had. Bliss."

Written like a true new parent.

Oprah Joins Teri & Co

Oprah has jumped on the Desperate Housewives bandwagon by filming an episode of the hit TV series for her own show.

The TV chat show host flew out to LA to the fictional setting of Wisteria Lane to record the show with Teri Hatcher and her co-stars. After spending time with the perfect beauties on the perfect lane, Oprah said: "I can't believe you have a street with that many housewives and nobody has a butt. Who has a street with that many thin women?"

She was filming a special short episode of the award-winning series for a 10-minute slot on her show. In the episode, Oprah plays a new lady on the street who finds herself running away from Wisteria Lane after uncovering all the dirty secrets of her fellow neighbours.

Clearly spending the day with the other Housewives was a blast for her and reminded her how much she loves acting.

"I thought I was done with my acting days, but I loved being a part of the Desperate Housewives so much that I'm thinking I might do something else soon," she said. Housewives co-star Nicollette Sheridan urged her on. "I said to her, 'It's about time you got back to acting. I want to see more of you on the screen.'"

Usher gets book deal with Oprah Winfrey

Lancaster resident Lisa Usher will appear as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey" show sometime this year. In June 2004, Usher gave a lecture "Take What You Have and Make What You Want" at the National Counselors Convention in Dallas, Texas. A representative of Harpo Publications, owned by Winfrey, heard the lecture and later contacted Usher. The representative, Jeanne Gile, asked Usher if she was interested in submitting an outline for a possible book publication and Usher said yes.

"English was not my favorite subject in school, so doing the outline was very stressful," Usher said.

The topic of Usher's book is self-esteem and making the best of what you have in life.

"The choices we make affect us," Usher said.

She said people need to take what they have in life and make the most of it, instead of spending time on "shoulda, woulda, coulda."

"You have to realize the moment you are in is creating your next moment," she said. The book should be released in late 2005 or early 2006.

Usher, who has an associate's degree in science and criminal justice from the University of South Carolina, a bachelor's degree in social work from Winthrop University and a master's in counseling from Webster University, is working toward a doctorate in counseling at the University of North Carolina. She works with the Union County school system, where her main duties involve building rapport between staff, parents and children.

In addition to lecturing, working full time and conducting workshops throughout the United States, Usher, 33, is also the mother of 4-year-old SaVanna Grace.

Usher started her career working with Hospice patients, helping them to cope with their impending death. She also counseled family members through the bereavement process. From there, she worked with victims of violent crimes, such as domestic abuse with Safe Passage.
Usher said children learn how to cope with stressful situations by watching how the parents deal with them. If the parents aren't coping well, then the children will not cope well either when they encounter stress in their adult lives.

When Usher worked with Palmetto Citizens against Sexual Assault (PCASA), she helped victims cope with regaining their self-esteem, rebuilding trust levels and dealing with the fear and anxiety following a sexual assault. She has held workshops in Lancaster on sexual abuse and the impact it has on a county.

Usher has also worked with the Charlotte Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on communication and rapport issues.

"The stress of dealing with instant fame and coping with the public is very hard on these young players," she said.

Usher also works with the players on team building and conflict resolution. She will soon travel to Miami to work with the Dolphins football team. She said the Dallas Cowboys have also expressed interest in her workshops.

"Everyone has some problems with the areas of communication and rapport at one time or another. It doesn't matter who you are," she said.

Building self-esteem

Usher said that the first thing a person needs to do when working on self-esteem is to make a list.
"You need to put down the reality of where you are in life and look at your strengths and weaknesses realistically," she said.

Then Usher suggests you find the resources available, such as emotional support and financial stability, that will help you accomplish what you need to do. She said it is important to go over your list after you make it to see which things you identify are truly issues, versus those things that others have told you were things you needed to change.

"We often find ourselves trying to 'people-please' and this only leads to more stress.

"See what's on your agenda for your life; not what is on other people's agenda for you," she said.

Usher said when a person tries to please others, they find themselves in a vicious cycle.

"When we find ourselves trying to please others, the more we do to please them, the more they demand that we change to please them. We end up feeling frustrated because the end result is no one is being pleased," she said.

Usher said she has found that once a person goes over their list and removes those items other people want for them, and identify what is within their means, then they often find their list being reduced by 75 percent.

"This is when they see their goals realistically and begin to feel that they can accomplish dealing with those self-esteem issues," she said.

Usher also said to tackle the smaller issues first, because these are usually the most realistic to accomplish. If you start with the larger things on your list, it will only set you up for failure later.

"When you see yourself accomplishing the smaller items on your list, then this will empower you to take on the larger items," she said.

Usher has often heard people say they would like to change things that have happened in their life. She said she is guilty of the same thing. One of the first questions she was asked by the Oprah representative was how she felt about changing things in her past, if she could.
"I told them at the show that I wouldn't change anything in my life because every experience I've had has brought me to who I am now," she said.

Usher said that everyone has experiences in life that are difficult to handle, especially when dealing with hardships and tragedy.

"If you have never dealt with hardships or tragedy, then you would never experience knowing that you have the inner strength to succeed, despite the struggle," she said.

Oprah to dramatize lesser-known work

With typical restraint, Oprah Winfrey explained why she had chosen to make a TV movie of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” “I love, love, love this book,” Winfrey told critics Sunday, the last day of the TV industry’s two-week preview marathon. “Other than ‘The Color Purple,’ I don’t think I’ve ever loved a book as much.”

Designated the world’s No. 1 Pop Idol by no less an authority than cable’s VH1, the artist known universally as Oprah was here not as talk show host or magazine mogul but in a slightly less visible role: as executive producer of ABC’s “Oprah Winfrey Presents” series of dramas. Winfrey wears more hats than a baseball team, which has left her less time to produce than she would like. She has not made a movie since ABC’s “Amy & Isabelle” in 2001.

What drove her to make this one — and to appear before critics for the first time since she promoted “The Women of Brewster Place” in 1989 — was her conviction that Hurston, an African-American novelist who died in 1960, is a neglected master.

Winfrey hopes the film, which stars Halle Berry as an independent spirit fighting the constraints of the South of the 1920s, will introduce the book to “a public that probably never knew she existed,” she said. “I’m still astounded when I bring up her name and people who are supposed to know something about books don’t know her name.”

The movie, directed by Darnell Martin from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”), will premiere March 6. But Winfrey said it had been on her mind for about a decade.

Not quite three years ago, she took the plunge and called her friend Berry about it. The actress, Winfrey recalled, had won an Oscar for “Monster’s Ball” the night before. “I thought, ‘I better get in now, because I know everybody else is going to be calling her up. And I know it’s a bold move to say, ‘Congratulations, you looked really nice at the Academy, but could you do that movie I’ve been talking about for 10 years?’”

In fact, to hear America’s champion talker tell it, she was nervous about the call: “I didn’t know whether she was going to be, like” — here Winfrey adopted a “Masterpiece Theatre” tone — “‘Now I have an Oscar. I’m sorry. I cannot talk to you.’”

Didn’t happen.

“Not when Oprah calls and asks you, and not when it’s a book you love,” said Berry. Given a chance to portray one of Hurston’s women, Berry added, “I’d do it on a street corner in New York City.” For Berry, one perk of filming was getting slapped by 80-year-old co-star Ruby Dee. In character, of course.

“Maybe she’s 5 feet tall, if she’s that tall,” Berry said, so “when the smack came up (in the script), I told Darnell, ‘Somebody needs to tell her it’s OK to slap me. I’ll be OK.’ “Well, the first time she slapped me, she slapped me to the ground,” the actress said with a grin.

Oprah's Six-Year Long Retirement Party

Or is she?

The queen of daytime TV told television executives that she finally plans to hang it up when her contract expires in six years. "I really do think that's going to be it," Winfrey annouced to a group of about 400 TV execs gathered at a Las Vegas party thrown by her show's distributor, King World.

Oprah stressed the "really" part of her news because this is the third time she has announced plans to call it quits. The first time — sometime around 1997 — Oprah suggested she was planning to retire, but she had a change of heart and renewed her contract through 2002.

In 2002, Winfrey said she would leave in 2006 to mark the 20th anniversary of "The Oprah Winfrey Show's" debut in national syndication. Winfrey was not available for comment.

Oprah's daily show is the highest-rated daytime talk show on TV while her magazine, "O" is among the most successful magazines on the newstand.

The combination, including being the brains behind the highly rated "Dr. Phil" show, has made Oprah one of the wealthiest women in the United States and among the most powerful media executives in the world.

Even her Web site is huge — oprah.com is visited by more than 2.2 million people a month. Forbes magazine has estimated that she is worth around $1.1 billion.

Oprah Winfrey may call it quits!

Talk show Queen Oprah Winfrey has reportedly hinted that she may retire and end her immensely popular show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, once her contract expires in 2011.

The New York Post reported that Oprah told TV executives at a Las Vegas party that she plans to end the show once her contract is over. However, the talk-show queen has twice before hinted she would quit only to reverse course.

''Desperate Housewives'' and Oprah

Oprah Winfrey's desire to act again has been met with open arms--the creator of Desperate Housewives is now offering her a role.

The billionaire talk show host, who scored an Oscar nomination for her role in the acclaimed movie The Color Purple, had all but quit acting after the poor reception of her 1998 film Beloved.

But after acting in a Desperate Housewives skit--written for her by the series' creator Marc Cherry--on her chat show, Winfrey, said, "I thought I was done with my acting days, but I loved being a part of the Desperate Housewives so much that I'm thinking I might do something else soon."

And now Cherry assures, "I'll write anything she wants."

Oprah Enlists Ex-Marines For Single Post-Tsunami Search

Sometimes the mission is a man, "Saving Private Ryan" taught viewers.
Given that thousands upon thousands of people are still unaccounted for following the Dec. 26 tsunami in South Asia and given that search and rescue and recovery teams are already spread perilously thin, some people might question the good taste of hiring a team of ex-Marines to go searching for a single person. Not Oprah Winfrey. Television's most popular personality (according to a recent Harris Interactive poll) is paying big bucks to try to help a friend.

"Oprah" regular Nate Berkus and ambiguously described "friend" Fernando Bengoechea were vacationing in the resort town of Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit. Berkus survived the tsunami (though he was without money or passport until a few days ago), but Bengoechea has not been found.

"Extra" reports that Winfrey and her Harpo Productions have hired an elite team of ex-Marines to search for Bengoechea. Representatives for Winfrey and her company say they can't confirm the story, but Harpo has also, reportedly, sent a producer to join Berkus and the team.
Berkus is a Chicago-based interior designer. He will remain in Sri Lanka throughout the search, according to the "Extra" story, which ran yesterday.

More than 145,000 people were killed in the tsunami, which has left millions more homeless in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other Asian nations.

Oprah Grants Actor's 'Wildest Dream'

Oprah Winfrey has given away cars and goodie baskets full of her "favorite things," but here's a new one: Daytime's top talk-show host recently gave an aspiring actor his big break.

As part of a recent "wildest dreams" episode of her show, Winfrey surprised Chicago's Paolo Presta with a walk-on speaking role on NBC sitcom Will & Grace. Presta had written Winfrey a series of e-mails and a letter with his headshot, expressing his desire to be an actor. Because of his dedication to the family business, a small chain of grocery stores in suburban Chicago, Presta was having a tough time making his dream come true. "Since he was young, Paolo lived for the stage. He had a part in every school play and found enough success in community theatre to be signed by an agent," Winfrey explained on the episode. "But after years of trying, his Hollywood hopes were wearing thin."

"I could never pursue [acting], because of the family business, even though I got a few gigs here and there," Presta told Back Stage West. "Well, Oprah came into my store and surprised me, had all my family there, and she says the reaction was the biggest reaction out of the 19 years she's done the show."

"You've written me a lot of e-mails," Winfrey told a flabbergasted Presta in the episode. "You can stop writing me e-mails now. OK? Because you have a big dream to become an actor."

Presta was flown to Los Angeles, where he met the cast of Will & Grace and taped an episode."I played a lawyer," said Presta. "It was a scene with Debra [Messing] and Eric [McCormack]. I had a couple of lines. Because of this I got to join SAG. It's been so cool. It's been the best."

Presta was initially to have only one line on the sitcom, but writers were impressed enough with him to add an additional line during the taping of the episode. The Oprah episode documented Presta's time on the set and included well wishes from Will & Grace's cast members. "Hey, Paolo, all I want to say is, if I could come from Chicago as an actor and move out to L.A. and make it, anybody can. Much love and good luck to you," said Sean Hayes, who plays Jack.

Since the show aired, Presta's life has been a whirlwind. When he spoke to Back Stage West, he was planning on flying out to L.A. for meetings with agents. The actor also said he's aiming to move to L.A. in January. "Oprah opened the doors for me, and I'm just going for it--having fun and living my dream," he said.

And perhaps best of all, his family now completely supports his chosen career. "My parents are originally from Italy, and they always had a hard time understanding why I wanted to pursue this, so I just stayed with the family business," he said. "But ever since Oprah came into our store and all my siblings were there and my parents..... My dad said that was one of the happiest days of his life. Now they have a better understanding and they're very supportive. They're behind me."

Oprah is # 1 on the ''ET Hot List'' for 2004

ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, the #1 entertainment newsmagazine in the world, has named the top celebrities of 2004 in its third annual "ET Hot List," which was announced today by Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of ET. The "ET Hot List" is comprised of those celebrities who received the most mentions on the show over the course of the past year.

"It has been a captivating year for celebrity news. We have seen it all and then some, from weddings to breakups, births and passings, scandals and arrests, and a strong celebrity turnout for Washington politics during the Presidential elections," says Bell Blue. "And now we have ranked those stars and public figures who have been at the forefront of 2004's celebrity news as reported by ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT."


1. Oprah Winfrey
2. Michael Jackson
3. Jennifer Aniston
4. Jennifer Lopez
5. Paris Hilton
6. Britney Spears
7. Brad Pitt
8. Nicole Kidman
9. Tom Cruise
10. Sarah Jessica Parker
11. Leonardo DiCaprio
12. Janet Jackson
13. Bill Clinton
14. Martha Stewart
15. Ben Affleck
16. Fantasia Barrino
17. Julia Roberts
18. Jessica Simpson
19. Gwyneth Paltrow
20. Jude Law

Adds Bell Blue, "The 2004 ET Hot List is remarkably different than last year's list. In the previous year, Jennifer Lopez ranked #1 beating Jennifer Aniston. This year Oprah surpassed both Jens, taking the top spot as the most mentioned celebrity. 'American Idol' winner Fantasia Barrino ranked above superstar Julia Roberts, and People's 'Sexiest Man Alive,' Jude Law, made his first appearance on the list."

Oprah Continues Reign as Top TV Personality

For the third consecutive year, talk show host and general media behemoth Oprah Winfrey tops the Harris Interactive poll of favorite television personalities. In the 12 years that Harris Interactive has conducted these surveys, Oprah has never ranked outside of the top three and this is her fifth time in the top position.
Oprah's sometime-adversary David Letterman retains the No. 2 position from last year, though the late night veteran is joined by relative neophyte Jon Stewart. The "Daily Show" host first appeared on the Harris list last year, coming in at No. 6.

Holding down the No. 4 and No. 5 positions they occupied last year are Ray Romano and Jay Leno, while Bill Cosby makes his first Harris Interactive appearance since 2001, rising to No. 6. Ellen DeGeneres moved from No. 10 last year up to No. 7, as Bill O'Reilly was in free-fall, going from No. 3 last year to this year's No. 8 position. Dr. Phil McGraw also took a small dip, going from No. 6 last year to No. 9 this year, tied with Regis Philbin.

William Peterson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Aniston and Martin Sheen all dropped off the list.
According to the Harris findings, Oprah is the most popular personality among women, political independents and Americans over the age of 65. Letterman rules among men, while Republicans apparently love Romano. Stewart is the favored personality among Democrats and among adults 18-29.

After sampling 2,376 adults for last year's survey, Harris Interactive only polled 1,036 adults this year, across a national cross section. The survey was conducted between Dec. 8 and 15, 2004.

Oprah celebrates the first African woman recipient of the Nobel Prize

 Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey will continue the tradition of bringing a superstar shine to dark December nights in Norway when the pair hosts the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

The Saturday concert, held to honor Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, will also feature musical artists such as Joss Stone, Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Cyndi Lauper and Patti LaBelle.

The 64-year-old Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, was honored as founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, improve the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years.

Winfrey said it was a "great pleasure" to celebrate "the first African woman recipient of one of the most meaningful awards of our time."

19th season with ''O'' factor

What was the hottest ticket in town last week? The tickets for the "Oprah Winfrey" show. But this was no ordinary celebrity-interview show: the audience -- about 300 teachers -- was part of "Oprah's Favorite Things" show, and those who were lucky enough to get the tickets walked out of Harpo Studios with unbelievable prizes.

Winfrey gets the credit, but critics say she's not the one giving the items away, NBC5's Mary Ann Ahern reported. Instead, retailers agree to the giveaways as a way to advertise their products. Winfrey's words can turn almost anything into gold, Ahern reported. "If she says it's good, it must be good," said one Oprah fan.

Winfrey kicked off her 19th season with perhaps the ultimate giveaway -- 276 new Pontiac G6's -- worth $7 million. That could be considered money well-spent by Pontiac, when one considers that a 30-second ad would cost them about $70,000 -- and they ended up with 30 minutes of free show time devoted to the new cars. To this day, car dealers like Bill Haggerty are still singing Oprah's praises.

"She has big power," Haggerty said. After Oprah declared a pair of Ugg Boots "adorable," sales jumped 400 percent, Ahern reported. A mention of a body scrub that smelled like gingerbread made it a top-selling product. Advertising executive Dana Anderson said Oprah is a marketer's dream.

"She is becoming the Good Housekeeping Seal of things to try," Anderson said. "I think people have so much confidence and belief in her, so when she says she enjoys something, they think, 'Oh, I want to try that.'" The teachers who were part of the now-annual "Oprah's Favorite Things" show received more than $15,000 worth of gifts. Those gifts included a Movado watch and a laptop computer. "They really took care of us," said one audience member. "It was just like -- beyond words," said another.

But some wonder if Winfrey's generous spirit has become too much of a good thing, Ahern reported. It seems that audience members are expecting to get a prize when they come to a taping. "We wanted to get the big gift show," said one audience member.

"I feel bad for those people who go when, say, Barry Manilow is performing and they go away and say, 'I'm getting a CD, I'm getting a CD. Oh, thank you,'" Phil Rosenthal, the television critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, said. Rosenthal added that when it comes to commerce, no one knows business like Winfrey.

The companies Winfrey mentions, though, aren't complaining. Within months of a mention from Oprah Winfrey, the company Build-A-Bear is on the international map -- and going public. And Oprah's passion for reading has previously hard-to-sell classics like John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" flying off the bookshelves. "There's nobody else who could inspire so many people to read quality fiction as she does," said Keisha Smith of Borders.

Media insiders point out that Winfrey has gone from promoting the search for inner self into promoting happiness through fabulous material items, Ahern reported. On Tuesday's show, Winfrey will give a new home to a local woman, and the show called on a local furniture store to donate all of the furnishings -- a proposal that the store jumped at.

The bottom line on the "O" factor, Ahern reported, is that a few lucky guests get free products, Winfrey gets big ratings and retailers get millions of dollars from consumers looking for a slice of her life. "The truth is, no matter what she's out there willing to promote, the thing that's promoted most is Oprah," Rosenthal said.

Oprah hosts Nobel Peace Prize Concert

OPRAH Winfrey — who rarely appears on TV shows other than her own — and Tom Cruise — who rarely appears on TV at all — will co-host this year's Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
The prestigious concert is held every year on Dec. 11 in Oslo, Norway, as the culmination of the day-long ceremonies surrounding the presentaion of the award.

The audience is usually only a few thousand invited guests, dressed in black tie and formals. In recent years, the concert has been turned into a major pop music event that has attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood and music.

Last year, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones emceed. Paul McCartney did the honors the year before. This year's concert, being held at the Oslo Spektrum, will feature Tony Bennett, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, Diana Krall, Patti LaBelle and Cyndi Lauper among others. The concert is shown in over 100 countries but has had a spotty record in the U.S. — where it has been shown on channels ranging from Fox to A&E. This year, it will air on E! on Dec. 23.

Winfrey and Cruise were chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to host the concert because of their "considerable humanitarian efforts," the committee said.

Winfrey funds a school for young girls in South Africa. Cruise is the co-founder of The New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, undertaken after Sept. 11. He's raised over $2 million for the project.

Oprah Is The First Black American Among Business Week's Top Givers

Television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey is the first black American on Business Week's annual list of the Top 50 U.S. philanthropists.

Winfrey, 50, ranks No. 40 on the list with $151 million in gifts and pledges from 2000 through 2004, Business Week said in a statement. Also new to the list is Veronica Atkins, the widow of Dr. Robert Atkins, who pledged $500 million to help fight diabetes and obesity.

Microsoft Corp. Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, 49, heads Business Week's list after he and wife Melinda Gates donated their share of the software maker's special dividend, about $3 billion, to their foundation. The Gates gift is one of the largest by a living donor and by itself is three times the amount the descendants of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton have given over their lifetimes, according to the magazine. The Waltons, whose combined net worth of about $95.8 billion makes them America's richest family, are No. 10 on the list with $650 million in pledges and donations.

About 59 percent of all charitable donations in the U.S. come from households with annual incomes of less than $100,000, Business Week said, citing a study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. The list includes people who have given or pledged at least $116 million in the past five years.

Gordon Moore, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Intel Corp., and wife Betty Moore were No. 2 on the list. The couple pledged $275 million for ocean research and for nurse training to help eliminate hospital errors. The Moores have given away most of their wealth, or about $7.3 billion over their lifetimes, with about $3.8 billion left, according to the magazine's estimates.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Warren Buffett, 74, rose to third from No. 26 last year, after much of his late wife's $2.5 billion estate went to their charitable foundation. The Buffett foundation supports reproductive choice and nuclear disarmament, Business Week said.

The death of Warren Buffett's wife Susie catapults America's second richest man to No. 3 on BusinessWeek's third annual ranking of the Top 50 U.S. philanthropists, up from No. 26 last year (for the purposes of the BusinessWeek rankings, married couples are generally treated as a single entity). The bulk of Susie's Berkshire Hathaway stake-$2.5 billion-is pouring into the foundation that she and Warren shared. Others donors on BusinessWeek's list include: Gordon and Betty Moore (No. 2); George Soros (No. 4); Michael and Susan Dell (No. 7); Michael Bloomberg (No. 13); and David Geffen (No. 31).

In addition to its annual ranking, this year BusinessWeek took a look at some well-known celebrity givers. In "Star Power of the Purse," BusinessWeek singles out Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, Michael J. Fox and Bill Cosby for their generous donations to worthwhile causes.

And while celebrities and the extremely wealthy do give generously, BusinessWeek points out that lower and middle-income Americans are the real unsung heroes of philanthropy: Families that have household incomes of $100,000 or less contribute 59% of all philanthropic dollars, according to a study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Gifts" highlights a surprising number of America's non-wealthy, who take giving to an unusual extreme. Since 1991, 62-year-old Albert Lexie has donated over $90,000 to the Free Care Fund at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, saved over the course of many years from the tips he makes polishing shoes at the hospital and at local businesses.

To suss out the new entrants on this year's list, and to create the overall ranking, BusinessWeek analyzed public records and conducted scores of interviews with community foundations, nonprofit experts, billionaires, fund-raisers, and wealth watchers. To qualify for the Top 50, philanthropists had to have given or pledged $116 million in the past five years-$21 million more than the minimum last year. BusinessWeek relied heavily on news reports, foundation filings, and interviews to compile this year's ranking. Resources included The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Forbes 400 Richest Americans, Prospect Information Network, and nonprofit GuideStar's online database of IRS foundation filings. Using these data, the magazine ranked the 50 Most Generous Philanthropists by what they've pledged and given in the past five years (2000-2004).

Oprah's Blessing to Another Doctor, Dr. Perricone!

Dr. Nicholas Perricone, the popular anti-aging guru, is the latest writer to benefit from the blessing of Oprah. An appearance Wednesday on Winfrey's talk show has given Perricone Beatle-esque status on the best seller charts. On Thursday, ``The Perricone Promise,'' ranked No. 1 on Amazon.com, followed by the paperback edition of ``The Perricone Prescription'' at No. 2., the hardcover of ``The Perricone Prescription'' at No. 6 and ``The Wrinkle Cure'' at No. 7. ``The Perricone Prescription Personal Journal'' had risen to No. 18.

The 56-year-old Perricone, who offers a range of dietary and skin care advice, also had the No. 1 and No. 2 books Thursday on Barnes&Noble.com. '`It's been a wild ride,'' said Marcie Krempel, executive vice president of strategy and marketing for Dr. Perricone's company, N.V. Perricone M.D., Ltd. Publishers moved quickly to cash in. Warner Books announced Thursday that 100,000 extra copies had been ordered for ``The Perricone Promise,'' his latest work, bringing the total in print to 427,000. Another 50,000 copies have been ordered for ``The Wrinkle Cure,'' a 2002 publication which now has 912,000 copies in print. Meanwhile, HarperCollins is printing more copies of ``The Perricone Promise,'' with an extra 64,000 for the paperback, raising the total to 150,000. No additional orders are planned yet for the hardcover, which has 600,000 copies in print.

Oprah's vision about ''Woman as Architects of Change''

Oprah Winfrey will join Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver as the featured speaker at the Governor's Conference on Women and Families on December 7, at the Long Beach Convention Center. "I'm thrilled that Oprah has agreed to join our remarkable group of women at this year's conference," said Ms. Shriver. "Oprah is an example of the power that women have to influence change in today's society. Her extraordinary accomplishments are an inspiration to all women."

This year's theme, "Women as Architects of Change -- Within Ourselves, At Home, In the Workplace, In Our Communities and Around the World" heralds the Governor's and First Lady's new vision for the conference, which reflects today's relevant issues and the growing challenges women face balancing and integrating their varied roles. Gov. Schwarzenegger believes that "This conference will allow the women of our state to share ideas, and inspire each other to put their stamp on the California Dream."

As part of the new program for the conference, more than 18 panels are scheduled on topics ranging from "What Every Woman Wished She Knew Before She Entered the Workplace" to "How to be a Social Architect of Change." Featured panelists include: Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay, Gayle King, Editor of "O" Magazine, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Cristina Carlino, CEO of Philosophy Cosmetics.

18 panels are scheduled on topics ranging from "What Every Woman Wished She Knew Before She Entered the Workplace" to "How to be a Social Architect of Change." Featured panelists include: Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay, Gayle King, Editor of "O" Magazine, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Cristina Carlino, CEO of Philosophy Cosmetics.

Oprah's clothes and shoes for sale now!!!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own the same clothes that celebrities like Oprah Winfrey wear?

Well now you can -- on eBay -- between November 10 - 17, 2004.

Gentlemen, here's your chance to get your holiday shopping done early this year. As early as next week!

For the next ten days, thirty-eight outfits and twelve pairs of shoes that were previously in Oprah's closet can be bid on in a Charity eBay Auction.

On The Oprah Winfrey Show yesterday, the size 8-14 media personality shared the results of cleaning out her best friend's closet with the help of two gentlemen who own a luxury lifestyle consulting business in New York called Visual Therapy.

On a trip this summer to Paris, Winfrey was influenced by the fashion designer, Valentino. He encouraged her to ask herself every day before getting dressed, "Does this outfit make me feel alive?"

Visual Therapy stylists Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo encouraged Oprah and her best girlfriend, Gayle King (no relation), to do something that would be "life changing." Reluctantly, Gayle agreed to let the professionals and the cameras into her home closet.

Before nine items were sold in a live auction at Harpo studio in Chicago, Garza and Lupo introduced Gayle and Oprah's audience to their "system."

New ''Bible'' for Oprah Winfrey

House of Ra Publishing Company announces the release of its latest book, "Help I Need a Fan-A Rite of Passage from Woman to Goddess", by author Rashida Ali. This work is a non-fictional testimonial of the divine benefits of menopause. Not only is Oprah menopausal and suffering from the effects of its condition, but so are women around the globe.

She announced on her national television show that a menopause book had become her new bible. Women from the baby boom generation are entering into menopause at the rate of 4,000 per day. The new age concepts contained in this work prove to be invaluable for the physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual well being of women.

Seventy-six million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964, the years that have become known as the baby boom. The first set of women from these years (over fifty-million), are well into their fifties and are now experiencing debilitating symptoms of this syndrome known as menopause. The author herself is among this group of women and after experiencing for the past nine years the many phases of this phenomenon, now offers a refreshing account with natural and alternative solutions to the traditional pharmaceutical therapy.

“This is not only a timely message but unique as well”, said Iris Rafia, House of Ra’s marketing manager, “because rather than focusing on the ill effects, it conversely from a spiritual and metaphysical perspective, focuses on positive change, growth and renewal, with a brand new understanding of this age old malady”. This journey from woman to goddess will transform the thinking and antiquated beliefs and concepts of menopause and elevate the woman to physical and spiritual wholeness.

“Not only baby boom women but women of all generations along with male readers will benefit from this experience”, Rafia said. “The concepts rendered are refreshing as well as empowering and leaves the reader on a spiritual high!”

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