Kitty's litter is rehashed Oprah

04/28/2010 10:00 PM

ANN GERBER

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KITTY KELLEY’S OPRAH BIOGRAPHY is more than you ever wanted to know about our Oprah Winfrey, and most of what you’ve read before. Kelley has resurrected every interview, every salacious detail ever aired about the talk show host’s troubled early years, her TV success, her relationships to family, Stedman Graham, Gayle King, ad nauseum.

WE ALL WEAR MASKS, to some extent, and writer Kelley has ripped off Oprah’s in a mean-spirited, confrontational tell-all, and then some. Catty Kitty alleges that there were hushed up lesbian flings, lies about a dirt-poor childhood, relatives eager to call Oprah promiscuous, and kin happy to damn her relationships with Stedman and Gayle as shams.

MUCH HAS BEEN PENNED about Oprah not knowing who her father really was and now Noah Robinson Sr., 84, of Oprah’s hometown Kosciusko, Miss., a World War II vet and poor farmer, has come forward willing to take a DNA test to prove his claim. Why did he never come forward before? He says he wrote Oprah years ago and never heard back. She was raised by mom Vernita Lee and her lover, Vernon Winfrey, who never married.

OPRAH’S SHORT-LIVED AFFAIR with singer and Entertainment Tonight host John Tesh is revealed, as well as her supposed “crush” on Diane Sawyer. When you realize that this book has more than 75 pages of credits, acknowledgments and sources, you view the painstaking research that dominates this best-seller. Kitty mopped up everything that could add color to her picture of Oprah.

HAS OPRAH CREATED A PHONY IMAGE of herself? A trompe l’oeil or optical illusion of an abused, hungry young girl who morphed from rags to riches and sincerely cares about her fellow man? Is Oprah so passionate and driven about creating and polishing “her brand” that she excludes all else? Kelley calls her asexual — sexless. We doubt that.

I WAS PAID TO PRINT GOSSIP. I WAS A GOSSIP COLUMNIST at the Sun-Times when I retold a long standing rumor, May 14, 1989, that read, in essence, “Did a wealthy woman come home early and find her lover in bed with her hair stylist? A nasty fight ensued.” No names were used but Oprah took it upon herself to respond, on TV, that there was an untruthful, vulgar rumor about her. The late radio personality Bob Collins had aired the rumor, with Oprah and Stedman’s names, before I added it to my column.

IT OPENED A PANDORA’S BOX ABOUT HER SEXUALITY. Although Oprah told me later she never called the paper to complain, I was fired. Don Reuben was my lawyer and I received a settlement I am not allowed to disclose. Hey, it was 21 years ago. Who cares? It gets two pages in Kitty’s litter box.

THE AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENTS of Oprah are lauded, by many, in this bio and it could be an inspirational read for all who reach for the stars. Oprah’s grasp hasn’t been able to give her a slim, curvy bod, a loving husband or children. She diets, but hasn’t indicated she’s wanting for anything else. Are Gayle, faithful dogs and millions of dollars all she has at the end of the rainbow? Kitty Kelley says “yes.”

Gossip, gossip, gossip

WHO WAS THE YOUNG WIDOW who died recently leaving $3 million in jewelry that she never insured? She told me years ago that she didn’t trust insurance firms because “someone can work there a week and find out what’s in your policy, tip off thieves.” Her gems were in her freezer inside a hollowed out cake.

WHO ARE THE HAPPILY MARRIED COUPLE, marking their 12th anniversary, who still maintain and use their own condos on Lake Shore Drive? It gives them safety valves, they said.

REPORT FROM FLORIDA … The magnificent Versace mansion in South Beach, where the flamboyant designer was murdered by the same tormented killer who took the life of Lee Miglin, has a new persona. Food impresario Barton G. Weiss, 53, has a 10-year lease and is determine to create a classy, quality 10-room hotel, restaurant and lavish event space. No more private club, with $50,000 memberships, but the Roman-style suites that rent for $5,200 a night continue. Barton reopened the 70-seat eatery, with $48 rack of lamb and cream of white asparagus soup at $13, and will offer private breakfast and luncheon service … Don’t sell Weiss short. His Barton G. The Restaurant in South Beach serves macaroni and cheese on a mousetrap, and he brought a live giraffe to open his eatery, Prelude, in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

GOLFER GREG NORMAN has put his Jupiter Island mansion on the market for $65 million, the seventh most expensive home for sale in the U.S. (First is a $100 million house in Las Vegas.) The nine-bedroom home, with space for 17 cars and a dock for a mega-yacht, has property taxes of $130,000 a year. Norman’s marriage to Chris Evert ended after 15 months.

DISCOVERIES FROM TOP DESIGNERS are at the Merchandise Mart from April 30 to May 3 as part of the annual Artopolis celebration of art, antiques and culture. Some of the American Society of Interior Designers members participating include: Kimberly Allyn, Michelle Watt, Jessica Henn, Joan Kaufman, Karen Norwood, Nora Schneider, Hilary Sopata, Valerie Stell, Monica Wood and Joyal Watkins Jr.

AUTHOR/PLAYWRIGHT BRUCE SMITH has written a drama, The Kindling Bone, dedicated to the memory of his beloved mother Jane E. Smith, who died a few months ago. She encouraged writers and was a mainstay as secretary of the Newberry Library.

REMEMBER POPULAR L.A. LAW TV CO-STARS Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry? They are married in real life and have co-authored a new cookbook, Family Meals: Coming Together to Care for an Aging Parent. It details Eikenberry’s mother’s heroic fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

BRAVO! FIGHTING CANCER to the tune of $467,000 were supporters of Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. They honored Gary Fencik and Builtech Construction at the party in Union Station.

OVERCOATS AT $3,500 are in actor John Malkovich’s clothing line, called Technobohemian. He’s aiming for class and quality, not for mass audience.

ACTRESS CYNTHIA NIXON, best known for Sex and the City, is a civic leader starring in public announcements promoting volunteerism. She’s also supporting the Alliance for Quality Education for better schools.

CAMERAMAN STEVE STARR is basking in praise from the American Theater Company, which parties today at the Germania Club for its silver anniversary. Joe Shanahan of Metro and Smart Bar is an award recipient, and Jim Jacobs’ Grease will be remembered.

IN TOWN FOR A SEARS cooking demonstration promotion, Ty Pennington met fans of his TV hit, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. (Photo by Steve Starr)

CANCER SURVIVORS WILL CELEBRATE May 4 at Martini Park with Imerman Angels at the 4th annual Survivor Day. Sharing strength, inspiration, hope and fun is the plan. Call 877-274-5529 for more information.

LOVE LETTERS, STARRING BURT NATARUS, an alderman before his acting career kicked in, and sex symbol Cathi Watson can be enjoyed at 7:30 tonight at the Erie Cafe. Call 312-266-2300 for tickets.

FASHIONISTAS, ATTENTION … BACK FROM THE PARIS SHOWS is Contessa Helena who has stocked her salon at 1 E. Delaware Place. The sexy redhead reports that Jiki of Monte Carlo and Jasmine Di Milo (daughter of Mohamed Al-Fayed of Harrods, whose father Dodi Fayed died with Princess Diana of Wales) had impressive collections. Helena noted that Cavalli, Antonio Gaspari, Trikcot Chic and Georges Rech used fur as trim, and it was embroidered or stitched into leathers and knits. The big ’80s shoulders are making a statement, as are peplums and pencil-slim skirts. Skirting is micro-mini, and lace and ruffles were seen on ultra-feminine dresses. Fall 2010 colors are olive, gold, oranges, and metallic with gold the reigning choice.

ROMANTIC FITTED JACKETS, SLEEK LITTLE SHEATHS and plenty of velvet create wearable and timeless suits and gowns. The military chic and rock ’n’ roll are influences, Helena noticed, with fluid evening gowns stealing the show. Bodies must be lean and long, but there are plenty of wearable options for every figure.

THE LADIES WHO LUNCH have voted Lulu’s at the Belle Kay, 3862 N. Lincoln Ave., the best-kept secret for vintage suits, gowns and the most impressive costume jewelry collection in the Midwest. Laurie Davis is a genius at finding unique apparel and accessories.

A WORKING-CLASS FAMILY surviving the current recession is the subject of a new Showtime TV series, Shameless, to star William H. Macy. He’ll play an alcoholic father with Emmy Rossum as his daughter who oversees her five siblings. Allison Janney will be Macy’s love interest.

IN YOUR FUTURE … MARIA PINTO and Alaka Wali will discuss Couture in Culture presented by the Women’s Board of the Field Museum on May 5. … THE ANNUAL BUTTERFLY BALL is May 7 at the Notebaert Nature Museum. … THE 9TH ANNUAL ULTIMATE WOMEN’S POWER LUNCH for Jan Schakowsky is May 7 at the Hyatt Regency, with guest speaker Helen Thomas creating fireworks. … ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR YEARS are being celebrated at Christopher House on May 8 at the Ravenswood Billboard Factory for dinner and dancing. … THE CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM WILL PRESENT Making History Awards to Bill Daley, Minnie Minoso, Janet Rowley and Exelon Corporation’s John Rowe on May 13 at the Palmer House.

MEOW! WE HEAR that crowds are lacking at Kitty Kelley’s bookstore signings for her new Oprah bio. Don’t fret. Kitty has nine lives.

OVER-THE-COUNTER DIURETICS CAN KILL, we warned in a January column reporting that the beautiful daughter, 25, of a Cook County Court judge was brain dead in Illinois Masonic Hospital after taking too many. Used for weight control and bloating, these drugs can be lethal. Three months later, this brunette is at Rehab Institute, still unresponsive, as her family prays and suffers.

Medics told me the diuretics caused her potassium levels to crash below “living levels.”

ACTRESS BEBE NEUWIRTH, now on Broadway in The Addams Family that we loved, always has a kind word about Chicago. She adores the Art Institute and called the new wing “gorgeous.” While here in previews she took a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio and said they were “moving and inspirational.”

WE APPLAUD GETTING A HEALTH BILL PASSED, and we realize how lucky we are that we don’t need the world’s most expensive medicine. According to Forbes.com, it costs a patient with a rare immune system disorder $409,500 a year for treatment Soliris. About 8,000 Americans suffer from this disease. Second most expensive medicine is Elaprase, at $375,000 a year to treat a rare metabolic disorder that affects 500 Americans. … (Take 2 aspirins and don’t call me in the morning.)

NICOLE KIDMAN donated $250,000 to Haiti relief and Sean Penn, Daniel Craig, Gerard Butler and Penelope Cruz all will give $50,000 a year for five years.

SEX DIDN’T PAY FOR NEVADA’S FIRST MALE PROSTITUTE. Markus, who brought in a mere 10 clients in three months, has left the Shady Lady Ranch to return to porn films. But a Las Vegas dude, named Y. Not, is being groomed to take his place.

“TELEVISION HAS PROVEN that people will look at anything, rather than each other.” — Ann Landers

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