Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's good to be (married to the) king.

Would someone please explain to me how—other than being Mrs. Dr. Phil—Robin McGraw has now emerged as Femaledom's unimpeachable authority on, seemingly, everything? In recent weeks I've seen The Lady McGraw quoted or at least invoked in matters pertaining to marriage, cooking*, anti-aging, religiosity, education, childhood disease and other elements of daily living that slip my mind at the moment. There's even a special "Ask Robin" section on the Dr. Phil site these days. And, of course, her book, Inside My Heart, which "speaks directly to the heart of every woman" (as its PR material puts it), continues to sell well, benefiting from regular mentions on hubby's show. Clearly RoMac is being positioned as the poor man's (rich woman's?) Oprah. Or perhaps she's positioning herself; unlike others who were always so taken with her down-home mien, I've long thought I discerned a fair amount of quietly smoldering ambition in the lone distaff member of the McGraw Empire.

Yet I keep asking myself: What gives this woman standing to expound on anything, let alone everything? (I recently heard someone say, "Well, it's like Jackie Kennedy"...which is a pretty scary comparison.) I will admit that I never got this culture of celebrity to begin with. Where does Sean Penn come off thinking he's entitled to tell us how to fix Iraq? And why does Larry King give him a platform to do it? And why do we tune in to watch? But at least Penn has done something that makes us admire him; think what you will of his politics (and for the record, I'm not just saying this because the guy leans left; I get just as impatient with the likes of Dennis Miller, or the thoroughly rancid Ann Coulter, for that matter), the man is a brilliant actor. What did Robin McGraw ever do, besides agreeing to cohabit with the blowhard who eventually became Oprah's jury consultant? Even Robin's official bio seems to tout her marriage to Dr. Phil as her foremost achievement in life, making no reference to anything else in her background that would equip her to solve America's myriad problems.

And you know, I wonder how Oprah really feels about all this. Oh sure, in public she shows lots of love for McGraw & Family. And of course, one would assume that a woman who's sitting on a net worth of around $1.5 billion could care less about potential challengers. But who knows whether Oprah's public display of solidarity is the same brand of united front that, say, Rosie and Barbara Walters were putting up in the final days—that is, before it was suddenly announced that Rosie would be leaving The View, which is Barbara's show in both the literal and figurative senses. Plus, some of these hifalutin media folk have egos as big as, well, Robin's next book advance. You'd think it has to grate a bit to see your protégé making such an earnest run at both broadening and consolidating the media franchise that once was yours and yours alone.

P.S. I was just reminded off-blog that the "expanded" McGraw Clan actually includes a second female member these days: former Playboy centerfold Erica Dahm, who last August became wife to Jay McGraw, the clan's No. 1 son, who of course fashioned his literary career out of appending the words "For Teens" to several of Pop's best-sellers.... Hmmm.... Wonder when Dahm's first book comes out? And let's see—what to call it? How 'bout Inside My.... No, let's not go there.

* particularly in support of her husband's embattled best-seller, The Ultimate Weight Solution.


Anonymous said...

Steve - Steve - Steve - People like Phil and Robin are there to help us love and appreciate the rarities in the world; someone like Mrs. Paul Hewson. Or Mrs. Dave Evans. (AKA Mrs. Bono and Mrs. The Edge.)
I've never heard from them and I never want to. I have exactly no interest in their world views and will only listen to Bono's because he's so incredible on stage. (Which is why we give an audience to Sean Penn, of course.)
And speaking of remaining in the quiet little background, you have to love Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton. I love those guys. The heartbeat of what is arguably the best rock band in the world, I'm guessing they can walk down the street anywhere on the planet and almost certainly be unrecognized.
They're amazing.

Steve Salerno said...

As if to prove your point: Larry and Adam Who?

I know now because I looked it up. But I didn't before. In my defense, I've never been a big follower of rock. Not until rap (and Trent Reznor) came along, anyway. But rap ain't rock. And Reznor SURE ain't rock.

Cal said...


Do you think Robin McGraw's fame will confuse viewers when the inevitable Dr. Robin Smith show is launched? I know there are obvious differences between them...LOL I remember hearing a rumor somewhere that there was friction between Dr. Shill and Oprah because Oprah was not in favor of giving his wife a show. I dunno if it was true or not. I have always thought it was strange, though, that Robin McGraw is famous for the fact that at the end of every show he takes her hand and leaves the stage. And then I read in SHAM how that it not his first marriage.

Do you have any thoughts now that McGraw has volunteered to mediate the Alec Baldwin/ Kim Basinger fiasco? I guess he will get involved with Hasselhoff and his ex-wife also. I've never seen the results of the people who he works with on his show.

Also, there is another entrant into the SHAM spotlight. I saw Bishop T. D. Jakes being interviewed for a new book that he has authored titled "Reposition Yourself". It sounds like the same drivel that wherever you are in life, you can just drop everything and start a new one.

Steve Salerno said...

I thought "Reposition Yourself" was a sex manual, kind of like the Kama Sutra?

(Sorry. It's been a long day already.)

a/good/lysstener said...

Hmmm, we seem to be really into sex today. Or into Jay McGraw's new wife. Or whatever. Not that "into" is such a bad thing. :)

However Steve, I think you're belaboring the obvious. The culture of celebrity is what it is. How can you still seem so surprised about each individual example when you've talked about the overall phenomenon so many times yourself? We listen to people we admire or at least enjoy. Or even just are familiar with. And really it's not that different from going to see a movie because you like the actors. You expect the actors to make the movie itself worthwhile. SO maybe you expect their ideas to be worthwhile too in other settings. I know that one doesn't exactly follow from the other logically, but you yourself said logic has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

I keep thinking the same thing, who the hell cares what this woman has to say?! And they parade around like the original honeymoon couple who have been together forever and done everything just right-- conveniently overlooking that Dr. Shill went through it all before with another wife that he didn't even treat very well, from what I hear and read.

While we're at it, here are some more people who need to JUST SHUT UP. In no particular order--

Bon Jovi
Barbara Streisand
Chris Mathews
Robert Redford
Al Franken
Al Sharpton
Rev. Jackson
Hillary Clinton
Bill Clinton
Any Clinton
Chuck Shumer
Nancy Pelosi
Any Democrat

Obviously I don't agree with you about Coulter but I'll cut you a pass this time. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I for one think that "rancid" is an apt description of Ann Coulter. Cruel, nasty, hateful and arrogant also come to mind.

Steve Salerno said...

I've obviously approved the above comment, though this would be a good time to emphasize that SHAMblog is not intended as a name-calling blog. My preference is that if we're going to "call someone out," there should be a larger point attached to it (a la the "redeeming social value" standard that is typically applied in discussions of whether or not something is pornographic). My original comment about Coulter was made in a context.

However, I do realize that when we get into these sorts of topics, a certain amount of ad hominem debate is inevitable--as long as we're not calling each other names here on the blog. I've had a couple of comments that fell into that latter, objectionable category in the past day or so, and that is why they haven't appeared, in case the authors of said comments were wondering...

RevRon's Rants said...

I really get a kick out of how people's comments are so frequently transparent in revealing their individual "issues." The willingness to defend a caustic pundit who happens to express one's own ideological bent, while berating an equivalent spokesperson for the "other side." The apparent need to blame "the other side" for problems that are inevitably the product of a bilateral failure to compromise. Or the shift from gushing supportiveness to a cattiness that screams of unrequited overtures.

I think Vonnegut had it pretty well nailed when he described modern ideas as mere badges, worn to alternately express friendship or enmity, rather than to promote understanding. And nowadays, our "badges" are as likely to be "celebrities" of questionable celebrity as much as ideas per se. We are a funny little species, aren't we? It's no wonder the hustledorks are so successful at selling us all the swill they come up with! :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Well put, Rev. It still amazes me that people will actually call you or me a name, simply because we may not agree with them about calling someone else a name! But I don't know why it surprises me anymore. I'm 57. I should know the score by now.

Mr. Spin said...

Name calling aside, it's fascinating how we distain celebrities who give advice on subjects of which their qaulification to give said advice is nil. But we listen to it anyway.

Whehter that advice comes from a "qualified" source or not, it's just advice and should be taken as such.

Just the other day, I was standing in Best Buy drooling over some electronics when a guy next to me began telling me that X gadget was better than Y gadget -- "it transmits your iPod signal better than [Y gadget]."

He's no expert, didn't have a degree from Harvard, MIT or Stanford, but I took his advice for what it was -- his opinion.

McGraw's is the same -- advice. The only different is that she's hired a savvy marketing guru and publicist to hype her's.

Whether people listen and take to heart McGraw's advice is their decision. They decide. They're responsible for its outcome.

I wonder how well "PAT" is doing with "SHAM" and using it as a "how-to" for promoting her/his biz?

Beth of Hooked on Health said...

I was researching whether or not Robin McGraw had any kind of college degree when I ran into this article.
I have been shocked at the revelations because she does not and I am too scratching my head at how she has become the go to expert for domestic violence and perfectly aging.
I was researching because I do not posses a college degree either but feel very qualified to profess that I am an "expert" in some areas of life. Hense my blog.
The fact that she does not have a degree gives me much hope for my future as I have big plans.(although after learning the truth I have lost some respect for both of the McGraws.

Steve Salerno said...

OK Beth, you get one "free one." ;)