Oprah is a religious icon -- at least according to a Yale professor and author of the new book, "Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon."
Kathryn Lofton says she watched 1,500-plus episodes of "The Oprah Show," pored over 105 issues of O Magazine and perused numerous Book Club selections and newsletters to make the call, she told the New York Post.
She concluded that as soon as Oprah rebranded her show as what Lofton calls "Change Your Life TV," the talk-show queen became nearly spiritual. Lofton argues that Oprah preaches "The Gospel of You" with rhythmic, sermon-like speeches and ways people can be their best selves.
It worked so well, Lofton said, because at the beginning of a new century, viewers wanted direction and a source of change. They felt comforted by her directive that it's OK not to be perfect.
Oprah announced last month her last show would air May 25 in Chicago. She announced in 2009 that she would end the top-rated daytime talk show after 25 years and has since launched the "Oprah Winfrey Network."
Details of the last show are top secret, but "Oprah" execs are asking $1 million for 30-second ads during the final episode. On Wednesday, Barack and Michelle Obama are scheduled to stop by Oprah's West Loop studio to tape something for the show.