The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


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London Belongs to Me – The Author

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I’ve wanted to interview Jacquelyn Middleton for my blog for awhile.  Originally, it was as part of my “inspiring” people series – I was inspired by her successful move from broadcast production and programming into award winning magazine writer.  Anyone that can make such a scary change inspires me.  Things got busy and often, it’s hard to find the time to interview people, but when she announced “London Belongs to Me” was coming out, that was a whole other cool factor and I had to reach out to find out more.  It gave me the opportunity to catch up with Jackie (JM), which was great, and find out more about her book and her writing process.

Q: How did you start writing?

JM: I started contributing to the Slice website (where she formerly worked).  I always wanted to do more writing and freelance writing seemed to be a good fit.

Q: But why the complete career change?

JM: I got laid off in 2008 from a job I loved in broadcast, but was writing for a website.  This gave me a portfolio of work that I had done.  There were family issues that I needed to be around for and free-lance writing provided me with the flexibility that I needed.

Q: So you always wanted to write?

JM: YES!  My Mum would tell me that I needed to write a book, but that was scary because I thought what if I can’t do it?  What if I don’t have the goods to deliver the thing that I most want to do?  I was inspired by Stephen Beresford (he is an English actor and writer for stage and TV).  He wrote Pride, my favourite movie for many reasons.  Pride was at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and I wanted to talk to him, but he was chatting with someone else so I didn’t get to tell him how much he inspired me at that moment.  As a freelance magazine writer, though, I got to interview him!  In magazines, if you have a great idea, you can make it happen.  I pitched an idea to Script Lab after he was nominated for a BAFTA for Pride.  I interviewed him in London (twice including last September).  He was wonderful – he delivered in the interview, was funny, and I just adored him.  He inspired me because nothing he ever wrote for TV ever went through, but he wrote a play and the National Theatre picked it up.  Remember, this was his first play and it was picked up by the biggest theatre in the world.  Then, Pride was picked up and he just made it happen.  He didn’t sit around and procrastinate.  Seeing him do this was a huge inspiration.  After the first interview with him, I knew that I needed to write a book.  I needed to try, even if it didn’t get published.  The book is a tribute to my Mum.

Q: How autobiographical is “London Belongs to Me”?  How close is the heroine, Alex Sinclair to you?

JM: Alex isn’t very similar to me at all.  I never moved to London, but I got to live vicariously through Alex.  I didn’t have a tumultuous relationship with my Mum.  My own Mum was my everything.  I had to visualize Alex’s relationship by removing my mother from my life and imagining what Alex went through.  Alex’s love of London is similar to my own and her drive to pursue the career that she wants is very much like me.   There are traits of Alex that I share and people who know me will pick up on them. Parts of me are in every character of the book.  It’s fun writing a book.  There are little tributes to people that only you or a select few would pick up on.

Q: Do you tell people that you know who the various characters are based on?

JM: No, I’ve stopped.  I can’t tell people in case they are wrong because that is how they are reading the story.  It’s personal and you should be able to read the story with who you pick or think the characters are.  I like it when people guess though.

Q: The book has a lot of fan girl moments.  What are your ultimate fan girl moments?

JM:  Meeting Simon LeBon from Duran Duran (Jill here – did I mention that Jackie has great taste in bands?) for the first time.  He never disappoints.  I have so many though!  Just a note, Jackie goes to Fan Expos and has met a lot of really cool people including one of my celebrity loves, Benedict Cumberbatch!

Q:  What books inspired you to write “London Belongs to Me”?

JM: Charlotte’s Web (She really has great taste in books, that’s my fave too!), 84 Charring Cross Road (true story and gorgeous movie), The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and My Love Affair with England (Jackie read it in 1993 before she went to England for the first time) all inspired me.

I’ll reveal more of the process behind writing a book in my next entry.  Remember that London can belong to you too if you order it!  Get London Belongs to Me on October 14th when it goes on sale.  You can also pre-order it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo, and Chapters!

Jackie – thank you for being so patient with all of my questions!

 

 

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Why Dr. Oz is Still The Whiz-ard…A Little Op-Ed

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Image courtesy of CNN.com

So many people have asked my what I think of the latest Dr. Oz “scandal”.  If you aren’t aware, a group of 10 prominent American physicians are calling for his resignation from his position as Vice Chair, Department of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center.

From Yahoo.ca: “The doctors wrote to Columbia last week, challenging Oz’s position as a faculty member at the university’s college of physicians and surgeons and accusing him of “promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.” The letter honed in on what the doctors called Oz’s “baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops.” Some of the letter-writers have ties to the genetically modified food industry.”

I know that some of you will consider me blinded by Dr. Oz’s celebrity, but I’m his side in this case.  Dr. Oz, the physician has to be separated from Dr. Oz, the personality for one thing.  For another, the accusing doctors aren’t going after Dr. Oz because of any great loyalty to the hippocratic oath.  Rather, they have their own agenda – likely ties to special interest groups that support the genetic modification of food.  If their intentions were pure – you have to support them for that reason alone.  When these doctors talk about financial gain, they forget, that most people don’t work on a voluntary basis.  Even the most noble professions get paid.  Dr. Oz has likely done very well for himself financially, but I’m sure the people accusing him of doing things for financial gain would do the same if they were media friendly.

I also want to explain, hopefully, for the last time, what the Dr. Oz brand is.  It’s a media conglomerate consisting of a TV show, a magazine, a website, plus interest in another site and a line of co-authored books.  I work in media.  I understand how TV, digital and print work.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Dr. Oz doesn’t “own” his show – Harpo Productions does.  He’s paid to host the show
  • He also doesn’t “own” his magazine – he isn’t even the “Editor in Chief”.  Hearst Magazines does
  • The content for his show is booked and scheduled by segment producers – not by Dr. Oz himself
  • There is a staff of writers and web producers that work on doctoroz.com
  • He simply cannot check every story or every article on his show or in his self titled magazine.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day
  • His brand provides hundreds of jobs for people – just a little FYI

You have to know that any show that you watch on TV is created for two reasons – to generate an audience and by virtue of that, attract advertising dollars.  It’s the same for print and your favourite websites.  If Dr. Oz doesn’t attract viewers, readers and online users, his show is cancelled – it’s that simple.  There are stories that are more sensational that are presented simply to attract viewers – it’s the truth.  Every TV show does this including the news.  I spoke to our News Producer one day, and he joked that our worst day is their best day.   If you don’t approve of what Dr. Oz does, the simplest way to protest is by not watching or reading.  I get that some of the information that he presents is hooey – that’s why I’ve written, time and time again, that you have to do your research before trying something that he recommends.  Some of what he talks about though, is scientifically proven.  I, for one, support anyone that gets us thinking about our own health.  I promise that I’m not a super fan – just someone looking for some health information and inspiration.  So don’t hate the Whiz-ard – hate the haters – and let’s stop blaming other people when all we are seeking is a quick fix.  There is no such thing.