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Face Up: Oprah Winfrey

Linda Zebian By

Concept: Oprah Winfrey is arguably the most powerful woman on the planet and thus graciously puts herself on the cover of every issue of O! The Oprah Magazine each month. So when The New Republic editor Frank Foer heard about Oprah’s recent trip to Auschwitz, he decided it was time to address the phenomenon of Oprah with a little satire. “For me, Oprah represents a cheap empathy,” says Foer. “The idea of this kind of cheap empathy with the catastrophic magnitude of the Holocaust seemed to have some sort of comic potential.” Needless to say, neither the cover nor the unforeseen complimentary story inside enticed Oprah to invite Foer to be a guest on her show.

Production: Art Director Joe Heroun hired cartoonist Drew Friedman to execute the cover art which the staff decided should teeter on the edge, while the cover lines should cross over the line to the more controversial. “The fake cover lines were a tough read over the texture of the illustration,” says Heroun. “In an effort to replicate the O! format we put a cover on a cover, which is challenging to make clear and avoid confusion.”

Our design panel says: “It’s an interesting concept and I like what it’s doing design-wise. I think that there are too many of those jokey sub heads. A couple of them are bit over the top (wildly bad taste). I got the joke the first time…The parody of O! The Oprah Magazine is viciously clever. Although it’s tough to do anything that could be conceived as trivializing the Holocaust, (unless you’re Mel Brooks) they’ve successfully dodged that issue by satirizing Oprah’s patented mixture of shared human pain and inane fluff…This manages to be both ugly and offensive. I am cringing on Oprah’s behalf…Q: When Does edgy cross the line into tasteless? A: This cover…”

The Panel: Charles Brucaliere, Forbes; David Whitcher, Chemical Engineering; Ina Saltz, Saltz Design; Dan Zeis, Fleet Owner
Have a unique “cover” story? Contact Folio: assistant editor Linda Zebian at

Linda Zebian By

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